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New K-Pop Girl Group Will Have 'Virtual' Members Along With Humans. It May Not Be a Good Idea

Image credits: Twitter.

Image credits: Twitter.

Aside from it being a Black Mirror like scenario, it essentially commodifies idols - and makes them into a purchasable entity, with people having the ability to do whatever they see fit with the idols.

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Buzz Staff

K-Pop is a global phenomenon now - but is it a virtual phenomenon as well?

One of the three major K-Pop music companies, SM Entertainment is debuting a new K-Pop girl group, only this one has virtual members along with the human idols.

SM Entertainment is known to be the driving force to do all things new and edgy before other companies - creating Exo-K and Exo-M, having members in two countries (South Korea and China). SM also pioneered a new concept with tis boyband NCT (Neo Culture Technology), where the number of members it is is expandable, and every year they keep adding to it. The group only promotes song in sub-units consisting of a certain number of members.

And now, they've taken it one step further: By introducing virtual idols. SM is introducing it's first girlgroup after Red Velvet's debut in 2014, Aespa, who will be made up of both human and virtual members.

Aespa, which is stylised in lower case as æspa, is a combination of the words “avatar”, “experience” and “aspect”. SM said the group would explore the theme of “experiencing a new world via the encounter of the ‘avatar’, your other self.

The new group’s logo first appeared in fellow SM act SuperM’s music video in September, and Aespa launched their official Twitter account on October 25, sharing the logo and a teaser video.

Winter, the first member of Aespa, was revealed through a series of promotional photos on social media the following day. Two days ago, another member Karina was introduced appearing in a similar futuristic, wonderland-esque setting.

At the World Cultural Industry Forum in Seoul, SM Entertainment founder Lee Soo-man said Aespa represented the launch of the SM Culture Universe (SMCU) and would feature both real-world members and digital avatars that would interact in various real-life and digital environments. According to Lee, Aespa heralded “the beginning of the future of entertainment," reports South China Morning Post.

“The group is what I’ve dreamed of, as it projects a future world centred on celebrities and avatars, transcending boundaries between the real and virtual worlds,” Lee added. “A whole new group with an original and inventive concept will be born.”

While this may really be a vision from "the future is now," not everyone seems pleased with it - with several people raising the point of it being privacy and ethical concerns.

A robot avatar of a real-life K-Pop idol to further connect the fan and the artist sparks concerns about how 'close' this relationship could be. It sounded strange especially since Lee mentioned 'how people can create robot avatars of their favourite celebrity and then live together with them or even make an avatar that could substitute the actual person in their own life,' reports ED Times.

Aside from it being a Black Mirror like scenario, it essentially commodifies idols - and makes them into a purchasable entity, with people having the ability to do whatever they see fit with the idols.

It especially sparks ethical concerns because of sasaengs - a word to explain crazy frenzied fans who go to any length to be with their 'idols.'

SM Entertainment has also been subject to a number of controversies, including mistreating their idols, slave contracts, blackballing and financial offenses.


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