Mnet‘s highly anticipated audition program Girls Planet 999 is well underway, as contestants compete for a chance to debut in the final 9 member girl group lineup. As the survival program continues to receive the spotlight with each episode release, they have started to receive backlash for a potential case of reverse discrimination.
The third episode was just released on August 20 and it was on this very episode that Korean netizens noticed something unusual. During one of the missions, one of the two Korean teams geared up to perform a stellar cover of BLACKPINK‘s “How You Like That” for the judges.
While all of the girls took the judges away by surprise, Jellyfish Entertainment trainee Kim Dayeon shocked the judges the most, as they couldn’t help but be in awe of her talent and natural stage presence.
This didn’t come as a huge shock to the viewers since Kim Dayeon beat all of her fellow Korean trainees to rank first place during their signal song competition. She went on to snag the highly coveted center spot for the Korean group’s performance.
Following their “How You Like That” performance, one of the vocal masters Lim Han Byul commented on her skills by sharing that he “understood why she ranked first place.”
However, it was his follow-up comment that began to gain negative attention from viewers and netizens. Following his previous statement, the vocal master shared a comment that may have revealed the show’s reverse discrimination towards Kim Dayeon.
That’s why we purposely didn’t put contestant Kim Dayeon in the TOP9.
— Lim Han Byul
He continued by sharing the very reason why the judges “purposely” didn’t place Kim Dayeon in the TOP9 ranking.
It’s because we get a feeling that you’ll get in there [TOP9] at the end.
— Lim Han Byul
Lim Han Byul’s comment suggests that while Kim Dayeon deserved to make the TOP9, the judges chose to replace her with someone else who may have not been as deserving — all because they got “a feeling [she’ll] get in there at the end.”
After his comment, Kim Dayeon burst into tears as a wave of emotions took over. Through her tears, the Jellyfish Entertainment trainee apologized while explaining why she got so emotional.
I felt a huge burden after not ranking in the top 9 during the first round. However, after hearing his [vocal master] comment, I felt a little emotional.
— Kim Dayeon
Following Kim Dayeon’s comment, Sunmi, who has been acting as one of the K-Pop masters shared her praises for the trainee.
Honestly speaking, you probably have the most stable vocals and dancing abilities. You did a great job.
And while these comments were meant to be compliments for Kim Dayeon, viewers couldn’t help but wonder if her purposeful “removal” from the top 9 was an act of reverse discrimination against her.
Girls Planet 999 markets itself as a global audition program, with 99 trainees from South Korea, China, and Japan. And while it may be an international survival show, the panel of judges are all Korean and the show is filmed in South Korea. Due to the obvious Korean influences, Korean netizens believe that there may be subtle acts of reverse discrimination against the Korean trainees.
Korean netizens flooded different online communities after this clip began to make waves, as they called out Mnet for their “manipulative” ways again.
- “What kind of nonsense is this????”
- “This is worse than, ‘just trust me, let’s put her in A.'” (From Produce 48.)
- “They’re messing around with the girls’ dreams.”
- “So openly, f*ck”
- “Wow, can’t they see the desperation in the Korean trainees ㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋ the reverse discrimination is amazing. They did this in ‘Produce 48’ too ㅋㅋㅋ”
- “Why would you watch another Mnet survival show? You guys are getting deceived again you idiots…”
The netizens’ comments are referring back to Mnet’s controversy regarding their voting manipulation. Previously, Mnet came under fire for rigging the votes of the entire Produce 101 series when two of the shows producers, Ahn Joon Young and Kim Yong Bum admitted to manipulating the votes and the rankings. This meant that dozens of contestants were unfairly eliminated from the program, which led to a massive uproar.
The public’s perception of Mnet shows, especially audition programs, became extremely negative following the manipulation scandal — and this incident regarding Kim Dayeon may have added even more fuel to the fire.
You can watch the clip in question down below.