If you’ve been active on social media recently, you’ve probably heard of Beaunite: a group of 13 Singaporean girls who formed their own K-pop group, modelled after the popular idol girl groups in Korea. They uploaded a debut video onto YouTube, introducing themselves as ‘BEAUNITE: Singapore’s first K-pop girl group’ and announced that they will be covering K-pop songs and dances, producing their own music and even start a reality show called ‘BEAUNITE TV’.
The teenagers quickly got a lot of hate online, with some netizens condemning them and leaving nasty comments on the YouTube video and Twitter. The reason for their displeasure stems from the girls’ claim to have debuted as an idol group.
If you’re unfamiliar with the K-pop world, debuting is a big deal. It marks the introduction of a performer or idol group to the entertainment industry, a culmination of sorts after years of gruelling training. Some idols spent all their teenage years as a trainee before being able to debut; some trainees don’t get to debut even after spending half their youth in the practice room.
Idol training is no walk in the park. Numerous articles have been written about the boot-camp style of a trainee’s life: they have to juggle school and training, follow a strict schedule that includes vocals, dance and etiquette lessons, among others, and be under the watchful eyes of trainers and managers who sometimes also dictate their diet.
In the process, many had to sacrifice their freedom and sometimes even education. This arduous journey has been documented in various reality TV shows, including Produce 101 and Big Bang Documentary.
This is the main reason why the internet was outraged. Overnight, the group blew up in the worst possible way: with the original video amassing lots of views (before being removed) and their Instagram account currently standing at a whopping 11.7k followers.
anyways those who don’t see why this beaunite thing is wrong and ugly are cancelled.
— cher (@lcnzhan) December 7, 2017
It doesn’t end there – some netizens have even created parody accounts and fansites to mock BEAUNITE. From creating fan merchandise and making false articles on the group to starting a petition for an ‘up-close and personal’ fanmeeting, not unlike the ones debuted idol groups hold to meet fans.
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But is the hate directed towards BEAUNITE truly warranted? Based on the video, it is clear that the girls are just having fun, taking up the common roles of K-pop group members and replicating the Korean greetings idols dish out. Granted, by presenting themselves as K-pop idols – a term that immediately subjects them to immense pressure and high standards – some people may argue that they should be prepared to deal with the backlash that comes with the tag.
On the other hand, being between the ages of 13 to 17, the members of BEAUNITE are at an age where they may not fully understand what it means to brand themselves in that way. The harsh criticism may be a constant in the life of a K-pop star, but these girls have not been properly trained to endure such treatment from the internet and their peers.
Influencer Dee Kosh came to their rescue, tweeting:
To all you Kpop fans asking me to bash that beunite group that’s just having some fun. Y’all are disgusting. These are literally kids just “playing Kpop” just how you used to play doctor when you were young.
— Dee Kosh (@TheDeeKosh) December 5, 2017
You know. I know. We all know beaunite is not a legit thing. But is there a need to bash them? Calling them ugly? Calling them names? What does that say about you man.
— Dee Kosh (@TheDeeKosh) December 5, 2017
Nathan Hartono has also stepped forward to give his chivalrous input on the matter.
#beaunite thoughts: art and beauty have different shades. what matters most is having people who are willing to try being a part of that wonderful spectrum. try and fail. try and succeed. try and try again, crazy ones. but all is lost when all we do is *~bitch and moan~* ❤️
— Nathan Hartono (@NathanHartono) December 6, 2017
At the end of the day, we need to realise there’s weight behind every word we post online. After all, in this day and age of keyboard warriors, the idiom “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” may not be entirely true or relevant.