Kim Se-Jeong — better known by her mononym stage name Sejeong — revealed she’s been treated far differently now than how she was just three years ago. These days, other K-pop idols don’t recognize her presence. This is something worth noting given the fact she was one of the members of I.O.I.
Stark difference between being a member of Gugudan to I.O.I.
Sejeong appeared on the latest episode of Knowing Brothers alongside Hyomin of T-ara. In one particular segment of the variety show, Hyomin opened up about how it is different being around other K-pop idols these days, especially if they’re hoobaes (juniors).
“It’s been 11 years since I debuted. I think you start being aware of other people’s opinions as you get older. It wasn’t the easiest thing to navigate around the hallways at broadcast stations. Still, some of them came to introduce themselves to me and said I was pretty.”
After Hyomin’s revelation on how hoobaes are treating their sunbaes (seniors), Sejeong chimed in with her own experiences pertaining to the situation.
“There’s a saying that you’re only a sunbae if you’re popular. When I promoted as a member of I.O.I., there were hoobaes who would say happily, ‘Oh my gosh, hello, sunbaenim.’ Now, they ignore me.”
Sunbaes are idols who are popular and make money
Historically in K-pop, sunbaes and hoobaes were determined by how long idols were in the business. According to Sejeong, that is not the case.
Apparently, idols have to make money as well as being popular in order to be considered a sunbae. If that is the case, there are plenty of veteran K-pop acts who wouldn’t receive an ounce of respect in today’s K-pop industry.
Apparently, it doesn’t matter if K-pop idols used to be popular either. Sejeong was a member of I.O.I., the first K-pop act formed from the popular Produce variety show series.
I.O.I. sold tens of thousands of albums, millions of digital downloads of their songs, all in the span of one year. As a matter of fact, any group made from the Produce series has become very popular. Just look at the success both Wanna One and Iz One.
Gugudan isn’t suffering per se as they’ve sold around 20,000 copies of each of their albums, but they are nowhere near the numbers I.O.I. has made. Ergo, Sejeong is only accounted to Gugudan now, not I.O.I. in the past.
Only time will tell if Sejeong will regain the level of respect she had in I.O.I. Given that most K-pop acts average around seven years, Sejeong has four more years in Gugudan. It is possible things might turn around for them which in turn will turn things around.