Over the weekend, South Korean television network MBC aired the first episode of its new TV talent competition My Teenage Girl. The series features trainees, ranging from the ages of 10 to 23, competing for the votes of an audience and judges to earn a place in a new K-pop group.
During the first episode, contestants would perform in teams in front of an “evaluation group” audience, who would vote for the groups they believe have potential. Upon reaching 75 per cent of votes, a door between the stage and the judges would open, allowing the performers to meet the four mentors face-to-face.
Soyeon, one of the mentors on the show, soon went viral after she criticised the “evaluation group” for how and who they voted, following a performance of OH MY GIRL’s ‘Nonstop’ by two contestants, which the K-pop idol described as “so bad”.
The singer also urged the group to vote “responsibly”, noting that “there were so many talented contestants that we couldn’t even meet because the walls didn’t open” after contestants failed to meet the 75 per cent vote minimum.
“‘Those who were voting, did they not hear any sound?’, that’s what I thought,” said Soyeon. “Honestly, of all the performances I saw today, that was the worst. It was so bad that I can’t even get angry.”
“This is a place to evaluate contestants who have worked hard to chase their dreams. As for [the ‘evaluation group’], I think you should take responsibility as you vote,” added Soyeon. “I’m a little angry.”
According to Korea JoongAng Daily, the creators of My Teenage Girl have also been facing harsh criticism from viewers for not vetting the contestants properly prior to the production of the series.
“Those contestants weren’t prepared, and the production staff had every opportunity to screen them before the first episode,” said one commentor, per Korea JoongAng Daily. “They also knew what would happen [that these girls would be ridiculed online] but they put the girls on stage anyway for views.”
Earlier this week, Soyeon revealed the reason behind her decision to participate in My Teenage Girl as a mentor. “Since I’ve participated in the shows as a contestant, I can understand the hardships and feelings that the trainees go through,” she said. “So I’ve been putting in efforts to share tips (that I learned as an idol) as much as possible.”