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Why is NewJeans popular? Knetz cite Min HeeJin’s influence before ‘pedophile’ scandal

Creative director who formed NewJeans and designed concepts for NCT Dream, Red Velvet, SHINee is now being called out for allegedly sexualising minors
UPDATED AUG 10, 2022
NewJeans is a new HYBE girl group that experienced instant fame even before their debut (ADOR/Naver)
NewJeans is a new HYBE girl group that experienced instant fame even before their debut (ADOR/Naver)

NewJeans is the latest girl group to make their debut under HYBE. They amassed an instant fan following with Weverse even launching a new edition of their app just for the girl group’s Y2K concept. However, the group’s debut was marred with a ‘pedophile’ scandal as creator and creative designer Min HeeJin was called out for allegedly sexualising minors and emphasizing their innocence with problematic pop culture references like that of exploited child actresses Natalie Portman, Olivia Hussey and Brooke Shields. Fans also think HYBE rushed NewJeans' debut to distract from Le Sserafim’s bullying scandal.

The NewJeans members who are as young as 14 were seen wearing tube tops, crop tops, scarves tied as tops, tees with graphic words like ‘p*mp’, mini skirts and bodycon dresses. Danielle was made to cosplay 13-year-old Natalie Portman in ‘Leon’. Fans also brought back past instances where Min HeeJin had given 17-year-old Yeri of Red Velvet a concept similar to 'Lolita' and revealing outfits to f(x) members Sulli and Krystal when they turned 18. But it seems that she was quite popular in South Korea before the scandal as everyone was looking forward to her girl group NewJeans. 

NewJeans' Min HeeJin slammed for ‘pedophilic’ comments and sexualization of minors

'It's cheap': HYBE continues to get flak for sexualizing minors in Le Sserafim's debut stage

Min HeeJin slammed for problematic photos on her Instagram and office (@min.hee.jin/Instagram)
Min HeeJin slammed for problematic photos on her Instagram and alleged office (@min.hee.jin/Instagram)

Min HeeJin formed NewJeans

K-pop fans had wondered why NewJeans was suddenly so popular ever since their introduction in the music industry. One fan voiced everyone’s sentiments by asking, “Why is new jeans so popular out of like nowhere?” Well, before Min HeeJin was called out for allegedly sexualizing minors and getting inspired by projects that have pedophilic undertones, she was a huge creative director in South Korea. She had designed popular comebacks for SM artists like Red Velvet, SHINee, NCT Dream, f(x) and more. There was a buzz when HYBE announced their new label ADOR and that it would be headed by HeeJin who also formed NewJeans.


Knetizens shared that they tuned into NewJeans’ debut because of Min HeeJin in particular. They left comments like, “Honestly, it’s because of Min Heejin, but the members are all good and their songs are good. People won’t care about them if their songs aren’t good, “Min Heejin + Good songs,” and “People care about them because they are Min Heejin’s girl group. The kids are so pretty so I keep my eyes on them.” Another had written, “Min Heejin’s planning ability is a big hit.”

One Knetz had posted, “Min Heejin is also Min Heejin, but the combination of the members and the quality of the songs are amazing.” Another felt the combination of an SM creative director and HYBE was to be credited, “Min Heejin + HYBE + good songs + good members.” It seems that before international fans pointed out the pedophilic scandal surrounding Min HeeJin, she had a fan following of her own thanks to her popular concepts for SM artists.

NewJeans attend a Chanel event on day of debut (@theseoulstory/Twitter)
NewJeans attend a Chanel event on day of debut (@theseoulstory/Twitter)

NewJeans gets highest pre-orders for a girl group debut

This argument was further strengthened as NewJeans became the girl group with the highest pre-orders for a debut album on its first day with 78.5k copies surpassing even the likes of aespa and Itzy. If that wasn’t enough, on August 3, it was noted that NewJeans had also the highest pre-orders for a debut album in total for a girl group surpassing K-pop representatives Blackpink and TWICE with over 500k pre-orders in history.

It seems that despite the scandal, fans who found the group through Min HeeJin are now solely supporting NewJeans. They debuted on the same day, August 3 with their first album ‘New Jeans’ which topped iTunes in regions like Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam. Meanwhile, ‘Cookie’ and ‘Hype Boy’, their latest title tracks have gone viral on social media. The girls also attended a Chanel pop-up event on the day they debuted which impressed K-pop Twitter.

‘Very refreshing’

With the ‘pedophile’ scandal of Min HeeJin not dying down, fans hope that she can be taken off the group’s management so that NewJeans’ rising success is not marred. One fan tweeted, “The min heejin thing really sucks because upon knowing everything about it (the fact that theyre minor or the lyrics are like that) i think NewJeans as a gg really has promising concept, i like everything that they put out..” Another posted, “Ngl, cookie sounds slap but their lyrics??? min heejin is so disgusting pls save newjeans these poor young girls should not be singing these kind of lyrics.”



One fan reasoned, “Min Heejin + HYBE + good songs + good members this exactly. like u can argue bh is also involved in lsrfm, but at the end of the day most of stans saw them as somu gg with ex izone members. new jeans is what people have been waiting for as the "bh gg" for years.” Another pointed out that while they were talented, Min HeeJin was the catalyst, “They literally came out of no where. No teasers, no pre debut stuff. Coz of min hee jin they started to get attention and then coz of their songs, visuals and talent they got bigger.” One felt that their commitment to Y2K aesthetic was what appealed to Gen-Z fans, “Their visuals, styling, sound and aesthetic stands out from other 4th gen gg, very refreshing from all the girl crush or royal/glam concepts. the concept suits their age also, easy on the ears easy on the eyes.”




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