K-pop and K-dramas: Line Distribution and Favoritism

Screenshot of Mia (Han Eunji) from the ‘Dun Dun’ music video. Copyright goes to YeHua Entertainment.

Hi! It’s Annie!

Line distribution has always been a difficult topic to cover because many fans get too angry about it while others try to pretend that it isn’t there. The first thing I want to say before jumping into all of this is that, line distribution is very rarely the fault of the artist and has always been more of the company’s decision. The second thing I want to say here is that line distribution being uneven is nothing new. Yes, it’s upsetting but just because it happens in a group doesn’t make it immoral to support said group. It happens to almost every single group and this is something that should be more of an industry change than it should be a change made in one particular band. With that out of the way, let’s talk about company favoritism and the way fans react to it.

Mia from Everglow:

My sister touched on this one not too long ago, but let me fill you in on this situation if you’re unfamiliar. When Everglow first debuted in 2019, the line distribution wasn’t great but it wasn’t all that bad either. It was clear that Mia was getting more lines than some of the other girls, but it felt like it was by a small margin. Especially if you compared the amount of lines Mia was getting to the other main vocalist, Sihyeon. It was obvious that Onda and Yiren were getting very few lines, but because Mia only was ahead by a slight margin she wasn’t necessarily viewed with much contempt yet. Cut to when ‘Dun Dun’ comes out. Mia takes up one third of that song. It wasn’t the first time Mia had gotten preferential treatment, but it was definitely the most noticeable. Especially with how huge that song blew up. Massive amounts of hate were directed towards Mia because of this song. People began to boycott her fancams, send her threatening messages, and even petition the company to force her out of the group. All of this is completely ridiculous. I should state here that Mia is actually my bias in Everglow, and it isn’t because she gets so much screen time. I was very impressed by how well she was able to command a stage and I thought she seemed like a really sweet person after watching things like ‘Everglow Land’, a variety show starring the group. There was an episode of that where each girl was given a mission and Mia was pretty sure she would fail hers early on. So while the other girls were trying to sabotage each other (except for poor Aisha who just wanted to cook), Mia went around and helped everyone else complete their mission. Mia does not deserve any of the hate she gets. Especially when you think about how much pressure this uneven line distribution is being put on her as a rookie. Should the other girls be getting an even amount of lines? Yes. Is one third of a song too much? Absolutely. But that’s not Mia’s fault. Mia doesn’t sit there with the song lyrics and pass out lines. She’s not in charge of that. Mia has quickly become one of the most hated members of Everglow, which sucks when you consider how hard she works. The company seems to have an issue with Yiren and Onda’s vocals right now and are trying to work on them. I honestly think that the company should play to their strengths more and give them more dancing. Really, the dancing solo at the end of ‘Dun Dun’ should have gone to Onda in my opinion. But again, stop attacking Mia because none of that is her fault. She’s a talented girl with a great voice and she deserves to be supported just as much as the others.

Jin from BTS:

Now that I’ve gone over someone with most of the lines, I’ll go over an artist with some of the least. We’ve also touched on this one before. Jin has always had a smaller amount of lines in comparison to the other members, to the point that Jin has even joked about it himself. BTS is in the unique situation where they actually are part of being in charge of line distribution for the most part. Most K-pop bands don’t write their own stuff and BTS is one of the few exceptions. But I should point out that this means that Jin does have a say in line distribution. Most of the time Jin and everyone else are just trying to do what they believe will benefit the song most. This doesn’t mean Jin has been mistreated. He has several of his own solo songs and there are other songs where the line distribution is pretty even. But I don’t think anyone had as much of a problem with any other song as they did ‘Dynamite’. It was pretty clear that he had been sidelined, which hit home for many as this was one of the few songs not written by BTS. It was written by Americans. Every member in this song gets their own moment to shine except for Jin who just sings the chorus with everyone else. This was even more prominent in the music video where every member of the band gets a solo shot but Jin. The backlash after this was loud, but apparently not loud enough to reach the ears of big-time American companies who started forgetting to add Jin’s picture on BTS posters for events. Eventually the backlash reached the ears of these companies who immediately corrected their mistakes, but to the eyes of many the damage was already done. The hashtag “BTS is 7” circulated for weeks, as it should have. I was personally disappointed to see that American shows didn’t do research on the acts that they invited, but that’s not a-typical of them unfortunately. I don’t think I need to say that Jin is just as important to the band as everyone else. I don’t know where I would be without his contagious laugh and bad jokes. Also, have you heard his vocals in ‘Don’t Leave Me’? The best thing to do here is to start watching Jin’s fancams and make sure that the hyung line is getting the media views that they deserve.

Jennie and Jisoo from BlackPink:

I should start off here by saying that I’m not as much of a BlackPink fan as I am of the groups above, so I don’t have as much information on this topic. But it is a topic that I can’t ignore when I’m talking about this stuff. Jennie has recently gotten herself the nickname “YG’s Princess” after she got some solo songs to herself on top of the slightly uneven line distribution in BlackPink songs. If you actually look at the line distribution over-all in this group, it’s pretty even. But the promotion of Jennie by the company also included posting her photos more than the others and centering her in promotion more than the others. This got to the point where people started saying that “Korea loves Jennie” as a compliment rather than including the other members of the band in this. On the other hand, Jisoo was suffering in line distribution and with company coverage. It only made it worse when Jisoo was receiving very little popularity overseas in comparison to the other members because she’s the only member to not speak fluent English. Which was overlooked eventually when it came to BTS because most of them couldn’t, but apparently it’s more noticeable if one person is the odd one out. Really American shows should be more respectful of cultures and other languages in general, but I digress. Jennie did receive some hate, but she’s at the point in her career where it doesn’t make much of a dent. While Mia from Everglow has fallen all the way to the bottom because their fanbase is so new, Jennie isn’t having that problem. But still, just like Everglow, this is something that needs to change and is mostly the company’s fault. While BlackPink does not write their own songs, they do have a say in them. But it seems like line distribution isn’t as much of a problem here as general promotion is.

I hate to say it, but a lot of the problems here probably come from marketing. The companies try to bring in new fans with the most recognizable members. For BTS that’s Jungkook, for BlackPink that’s Jennie, and for Everglow that’s Mia. BTS isn’t too bad with marketing by themselves or line distribution in general, it’s mainly the news and talk shows that have been centering Jungkook. Everglow has the excuse of giving Mia more lines because they are a new group and the company isn’t confident in the vocals of the others yet. YeHua actually doesn’t center Mia in interviews or in promotional photos, which is a good thing. At least not yet. BlackPink seems to have the biggest overall issue here, even though they do have the best line distribution. But also, everyone talking about the unfairness of the line distribution or media coverage means that people are talking about these groups more than they generally would. People who aren’t familiar with these groups get curious and go to check them out. The best thing to do here is to watch fancams and view promotional photos of the perceived neglected members more. My bias in BTS is Jimin and my bias wrecker is Namjoon, so I generally try to watch more Namjoon fancams. I do it because I know that the hyung line needs more views than the maknae line, so I don’t often watch as many Jimin fancams. Lately I’ve also been trying to watch more Jin fancams. Attempting to even out the views is the best way to send a message to these companies on what you want to see. But things like this have been happening in so many groups for so long, it’s going to take a long time for any of this to change. But please, once again, remember that the company’s apparent favorite artist has nothing to do with any of the decisions the company or other companies make about their own promotion.

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

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