In the wake of EJ Music Entertainment‘s announcement that its new girl group QODES will be releasing a music video, the agency has come under severe criticism for openly queerbaiting LGBTQ+ K-Pop fans.
Four-member hip-hop girl group QODES debuted on February 1, 2021.
In a recent statement, EJ Music Entertainment announced that the group’s next music video, “LALALA”, would target the LGBTQ+ K-Pop fandom.
According to the agency, the music video is features acting that is directed to be homosexual.
Shortly after the press release was published, fans began heavily criticizing QODES’s agency for blatant queerbaiting.
As the name suggests, queerbaiting is a term used when content creators try to attract (or “bait”) an LGBTQ+ audience by dropping hints of same-gender relationships that never really happen.
TV shows, books, and more can all be guilty of queerbaiting, which usually involves inserting queer subtext or romantic tension between two heterosexual lead characters.
The relationships between Glee‘s Rachel and Quinn, Riverdale‘s Betty and Veronica, and Supergirl‘s Kara and Lena have all been interpreted as queerbait in the past. In 2019, the LGBTQ+ market was estimated at approximately $3.7 trillion USD.
Members Delta and Lambda portray the aforementioned queer acting in a teaser clip uploaded ahead of the full music video’s February 17 release.
Since neither of the members spoke on their sexualities and EJ Music Entertainment refers to the on-screen relationship as a “performance“, the music video appears to fall under the definition of queerbaiting.
Fans across the world have expressed serious disappointment that EJ Music Entertainment is reducing the LGBTQ+ sexuality spectrum to nothing more than a concept for financial gain. The company’s admission to using “queer-coding” as a source of content has shocked and offended many, with numerous fans calling the move WLW (women-loving-women) fetishization—reducing queer women to a source of entertainment and titillation for others.
LGBTQ+ fans and allies are also pointing out the inappropriacy of using a lesbian storyline as a marketing ploy when openly gay stars in Korea—such as singer Holland—have faced rampant homophobia in the past, and still do today. QODES’s controversy comes just days after SBS was condemned for cutting out and blurring same-sex kiss scenes in a broadcast of the hit movie Bohemian Rhapsody.
Given the typical response to outward displays of homosexuality in South Korea, some have even suggested that QODES’s music video could be a form of outrage marketing—aiming to anger a homophobic audience in the hope that they spread your content.
As of yet, EJ Music Entertainment is yet to issue any follow-up statements on “LALALA”.