HYBE‘s new girl group is already drawing hype, and they haven’t even begun auditions for it yet. An article by Korean media Sports Kyunghyang was reposted onto a community site where netizens discussed the topic of global auditions for the members.

In a poster for HYBE’s global audition, it was noticed that China was conspicuously not on the list of cities hosting auditions. As Chinese members have always been a topic of contention in K-Pop domestically, the move was a surprising one.

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“BTS’s junior girl group will not have Chinese members.” | Sports Kyunghyang via theqoo

A potential reason could be this. As K-Pop is highly popular in China, Chinese members have always brought about global competitivity and talent. They help groups enter the large market belonging to China. However, in recent years, with Korean-Chinese relations growing tense, the public sentiment towards Chinese interference with Korea’s entertainment industry has been souring.

Furthermore, with Chinese-speaking countries such as Taiwan and Singapore on the list, HYBE may not have felt the need to include Chinese members from China in the new line-up.

Even so, with the large scale of the company, there could be existing Chinese trainees in the company already that the public does not know about. No one knows for sure until the debut line-up is revealed. Stay tuned!