Psy and P Nation's decision to debut the 12-year-old Tanaki Koki is stirring up a lot of heated debate from global netizens.
Psy chose seven contestants, Eun Hwi, Daniel Jikal, Cheon Jun Hyuk, Oh Sung Jun, Choi Tae Hun, Jang Hyun Soo, Tanaka Koki, and Woo Kyung Jun from LOUD to be a part of his new debut team.
While the other members fall in the age range of 16 to 19 years, the talented Tanaki Koki who beat 70+ contestants and ranked first, is 12-years-old in Korean age. Internationally, he is only 11.
P Nation uploaded new profile pictures of the members and it sparked debates on the decision to debut Tanaki Koki in K-pop's cutthroat industry at such a young age.
Tanaki Koki's age becomes a reason for debate yet again
Tanaki Koki's age has always been a topic of debate, right from his introduction in the survival show LOUD, to him showing off his talents, and now recently, to being chosen as a part of the LOUD's debut team.
Regardless of the incredibly smooth skills he showed, some netizens are skeptical about him debuting in a fiercely competitive music industry.
On September 11, after P Nation uploaded members' new profile pictures, along with their name hashtags and date of birth social media sites like Twitter and The Qoo were both filled with concerns and expectations raised by fans.
For one netizen, harmony didn't sit right. Another netizen, on comment no. 1019, wondered why Tanaki Koki was included just because of his dancing, even when they read articles that state all the members are all-rounders.
Another netizen commented, "05 is still too young.. But 09..", talking about Tanaki Koki's birth year. Among the hundreds of comments on The Qoo, some also thought it was okay for a 12-year-old to make his debut as K-pop is a commercialized industry, but the height difference of the members did not sit right with them.
On the other hand, Twitter netizens thought Tanaki was being "exploited" and that he "shouldn't be debuting this early".
One sentiment fans have been reiterating from the start is that Koki can debut in the next up-and-coming boy group, 4-5 years down the line. Fans argue that he will continue to be talented, be able to pursue his dreams and education, and become more mature to fit the industry.
The other side of the coin is fans supporting him and trusting Psy to take good care of him. They're also putting their faith in Koki, who they believe wants to show the world his talent, and do not want anyone to come in between him and his dreams.
P Nation responded to the criticism by uploading a photo of Tanaki Koki with a tweet reading:
"Yesterday LOUD ended. I can't feel it yet, but I want to become a Koki who can show you how to keep improving by working hard in the future! Watch me!"
Meanwhile, fans are trying to cheer Tanaki Koki by flooding positive comments on his posts so that he can avoid reading the negative comments.
LOUD's new boy.band performed their title track 180 Degrees on the grand finale of LOUD on September 11. But there's still time to see when, with what name and how the group, with possibly the youngest K-pop idol ever, will debut under Psy's P Nation.