PD Receives Massive Backflash Over ‘Under 15′ K-pop Auditions: ‘This Is Gross’

On June 10, 2024, in Seoul, Seo Hye Jin, who is well-known for her successful work on popular shows like “Mr. Trot,”becomes involved in another controversy as her recent project, a K-pop audition program for participants under the age of 15, receives strong criticism from fans.

Seo Hye Jin has a remarkable track record in the Korean entertainment industry, having played a key role in the success of “Mr. Trot,”which launched Lim Young Woong’s career to new heights.

Nevertheless, her recent announcement about the new audition program has sparked differing opinions among fans of K-pop.

The program “Under 15″is currently being developed with the purpose of identifying talented children between the ages of 3 and 15 from more than 70 countries. The ultimate objective is to create a 5th-generation vocal girl group that will have worldwide exposure.

Seo Hye Jin supported the initiative, arguing that the age range aligns with the current trend in K-pop where viewers are gravitating towards younger singers.

In an interview with Sports Seoul, Seo explained, “We have observed a noticeable shift in viewer votes towards younger singers. This was the driving force behind our decision to create Under 15, as we wanted to stay current with the prevailing trends in K-Pop.”

Seo Hye Jin
Seo Hye Jin (Photo : sportsseoul)

As proof of this change in preference, she referenced the achievements of teenage singers in other programs.

Seo Hye Jin
Seo Hye Jin (Photo : sportsseoul)

Despite this reasoning, it has been met with disapproval from numerous K-pop enthusiasts who contend that triumph in the field is not exclusively based on age, but on elements like directing, song caliber, and member charisma.

Critics argue that Seo Hye Jin has misinterpreted the success of groups like NewJeans, claiming that their popularity was due to factors unrelated to their age.

The discontent among fans is evident in the comments found on online forums, with many expressing concerns about the exploitation of young talent and the misguided emphasis on age instead of artistic ability.

There are concerns that Seo’s program may lead to the early introduction of inexperienced artists who may not be prepared for the challenges of the entertainment industry.


  • “Under 15…? Creepy AF. Stop doing business using young children. And it’s not the fact that NewJeans members are young that makes them popular. Their concept and music were a breath of fresh air.”
  • “This woman has no idea how K-Pop works, huh? It’s not the age that attracted fans to NewJeans.”
  • “I wonder if she’s trying to debut the young trot singers as a girl group. I can already imagine the route that’s going to take…”
  • “But the members’ age range isn’t what made NewJeans big. It’s the directing, songs, and the members’ charms. Age has nothing to do with it… So focusing on how young a girl group has to be is the creepiest. The program is pushing the line.”
  • “Don’t push babies into debuting so young…”

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