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The student news site of Robinson High School

Knight Writers

The student news site of Robinson High School

Knight Writers

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The Price of being a Young K-pop Idol

You should be in school, not training to be a K-pop idol.
An+illustration+depicting+how+young+K-pop+idols+are+still+kids+on+the+inside.+
Photo Janiece Mitchner
An illustration depicting how young K-pop idols are still kids on the inside.

I started listening to K-pop back when NewJeans made their debut in July 2022. Like many, I was hooked on their distinct choreography and music and the five members’ fresh looks. Only recently though did I notice how young some of these members are. K-pop idols are debuting at younger and younger ages nowadays, which is not beneficial for their well-being.

With NewJeans, all their members are still minors, with South Korea’s age of adulthood being 19. Their youngest member is Hyein, who is currently 15 years old; she debuted when she was just 14. From her looks, I originally thought she was at least 20, along with the other members as well who are all just one to three years older than Hyein. My jaw dropped when I found out almost all of them were younger than me.

According to Nolae, Haeun of the girl group Lapillus became the newest record holder for the youngest K-pop idol to debut, at the young age of 13 years and seven months out in June of 2022, just a month before NewJeans had debuted.

As shown, it is becoming more and more of a trend for idols to debut at around the ages of 13-14. I think the ultimate goal of having younger idols debut is so they can stay in the industry for longer, which in the long run, attracts a wider age range of audiences for the group and their label. With the age these members are, they are just old enough for younger girls to look up to them and young enough be admired by older audiences, which brings me to my main concern. There are so many older people that idolize and sexualize younger K-pop idols; it’s perverted.

Some might argue that labels like ADOR (NewJean’s label) implement special rules in order to protect these younger girls, such as them having longer safety shorts (biking shorts length). But I think this is still not enough. Once you are an idol, you no longer have a private life; you always become being watched. For instance, I vividly remember a reel I saw the other day where a person ranked the five members based on the way they ate their food, with clips of them eating being filmed from a far distance. And this has not happened just once; when I go on Instagram or even YouTube, I always see invasive videos or comments being made about NewJeans members.

Not only is their safety something to worry about, there are other factors as well. What about their education? Many K-pop idols decides to drop out of school in order to pursue this career. Now I understand that these idols choose this life, however, I think that you should still be going to school if you are still 13/14 – or even younger – because let’s not forget that before you can become an idol, you have to endure months or sometimes even years as a trainee.

I respect the idol’s decision to debut at whatever age they do it at. However, I do feel that K-pop idols need to stop debuting at ages 13 to 14. At the end of the day, I will still continue listening to music from NewJeans, even though I hate the way how young these girls are.

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About the Contributors
Cecilia Cheng, Print Managing Editor
Cecilia Cheng is a senior at Robinson and the Print Managing Editor of Knight Writers. This is her third year on staff and her third year as an editor. A self-proclaimed "Swiftie," Cheng is constantly listening to some form of pop music, but her current favorites include Taylor Swift, Clairo and Pheobe Bridgers. When she's not listening to music, Cheng can be found taking photos, hanging out with friends, thrifting or catching up on her favorite TV shows. As of right now, her absolute favorite show is "Heartstopper," but it fluctuates frequently. This love of TV and movies is reflected in her large discography of reviews on the Knight Writers website and former position as the A&E editor for two years. Cheng makes it clear that A&E is her favorite section. Although she is a big fan of A&E, Cheng enjoys writing articles regardless of their section. "My favorite thing about journalism is the storytelling aspect of it," Cheng said. "I love how I’m able to express my opinion and give people that are underrepresented a voice as well." Outside of journalism, Cheng is involved in many other aspects of the Robinson community, holding positions as the Secretary of Women in STEM and the Social Media Manager of Mu Alpha Theta. Despite her connections to the school, Cheng is excited to graduate and see what awaits her. She hopes to head to her top college, Northeastern, where she plans to major in Biology. However, she isn't prepared to forget her time as a Knight Writer and plans to pursue her journalistic interests as well. "Right now, I’m looking to go to college and major in Biology, to go the pre-med track. I haven’t decided where I want to go yet, but I really hope I get into Northeastern. Also, if it’s possible, I want to double major in Journalism or I would join my college’s newspaper." (Profile by Charlotte Stone)
Janiece Mitchner, Senior Staff Writer
Janiece Mitchner is a junior at Robinson and a senior staff writer for Knight Writers. This is her second year on staff. While Mitchner was placed in journalism by chance, she has enjoyed the last year making drawings for the newspaper. "Since I suck at writing, I draw for the newspaper," Mitchner said. Mitchner has been drawing for five years and hopes to earn the Florida Scholastic Press Association (FSPA) Artist of the Year award in the future. "I usually draw characters, superheroes, anime characters and generally whatever looks interesting to me. It calms me when I draw and listen to music," Mitchner said. Besides art, Mitchner enjoys relaxing, volunteering for Girl Scouts and listening to music; particularly, her all-time favorite artist is Justin Bieber. The rest of Mitchner's time not designated towards art, school and music is put towards working at Qdoba, where she tends to work 20 hours a week. Mitchner has had to move multiple times due to her dad's military obligations. She has been living in Tampa for the last two years but does miss her last home in North Dakota. "Moving to Tampa has been kind of hard for me," Mitchner admitted. "I definitely miss having some snow, I'd rather be cold than hot." Besides North Dakota, Mitchner has also lived in Texas at two different times. Despite the numerous moves, Mitchner has stayed close with her family, including her younger brother and sister. Janiece, however, draws her ultimate inspiration from her mother. "She is my role model and is always able to balance all my siblings' requests. She's also very good at managing her time," Mitchner said. Mitchner is looking forward to graduating next year and plans to continue doing art actively as well as go on the culinary trip to Japan. "I hope that by the end of high school, my artwork will be in an art portfolio for college," Mitchner said. Profile by (Anika Sanka)
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