K-pop fans are outraged after a TikTok user posted a video of himself attempting to ask out
In a now-deleted video by TikTok user @jermbarrett that has since been reposted on Twitter, Barrett is seen at a party where the JYP Entertainment girl group was also in attendance. In the video, he says, “Alright, this is NMIXX. I’m going to ask her out to dinner in Korean.” He then walks over to Sullyoon and introduces himself in Korean. She politely bows and shakes his hand.
He continues in English, “If you’re in L.A. for a long time, I’d like to take you out to dinner.” It is not clear if she fully understood the conversation, but then she turns away from him and is called to bow and give a farewell with the rest of the group. Barrett walks away laughing as the on-screen text reads, “I blew it.”
NMIXX were in Los Angeles last month for KCON LA 2022, which Barrett was also invited to attend. His other uploaded videos show he met other groups like STAYC, “Queendom” Season 2 winner WJSN, THE BOYZ and NCT Dream.
Some netizens expressed their discomfort with the interaction as Sullyoon, who turned 18 internationally last January, is still considered a minor in Korea, where the legal age for consent is 20. According to another video from Barrett, he is 24 years old.
K-pop journalist Tássia Assis, whose work has been featured in NME, Teen Vogue, Rolling Stone Australia and the Recording Academy, tweeted a response that went viral: “So kcon doesn’t allow press to even watch the kcon rookies stage but these tiktokers get an artist lounge and for what?? to harass an 18yo at her work and upload it for clout??????”
Assis’ thread raised criticisms that many of the outraged fans also shared, including that Barrett allegedly used a private event the artists couldn’t say no to for his own amusement, which they claimed is disrespectful of her boundaries. In other circumstances like NMIXX’s meet-and-greet, a plastic barrier separated fans and the group for COVID-19 protocols. Fans also echoed Assis’ displeasure with what they see as a decision by KCON to prioritize influencers over journalists.
In another tweet, Assis wrote, “his other tiktok, which is still up, is no less worse and you know what? at least this is giving me the clarity that i do what i do because i hate seeing people treated like animals in a circus, dehumanization, besides the usual misogyny and racism, is appalling.” and “i’m committed to letting everyone i interview to be seen as a HUMAN first. my work is not about me, it’s about THEM shining. it’s about giving them a voice they might not have otherwise, and not silencing and exotifying these people even more.”
Another user pointed out that Barrett, according to his LinkedIn, is a project manager at Quincy Jones Productions, which the user presumed is how he gained access to the event.
Fans also believe Barrett is not well-versed in K-pop, pointing to his comments on his KCON TikTok video as evidence. One person had to point out which group was STAYC. Additionally, a user in the comments of the deleted video told Barrett idols aren’t allowed to date because of their contracts, to which he responded, “There’s always a way!” Another comment told Barrett to try calling it a business dinner next time and not a date, to which he responded, “Noted for the future haha.”
As of now, Barrett has not commented on the controversy but has limited the comments on his videos and set his Instagram to private. Fans have been asking others to report his account to JYP Entertainment and officials at KCON/CJ ENM.
NMIXX recently covered veteran K-pop girl group Rainbow and their song “Kiss.” Sullyoon covered BLACKPINK’s “Stay,” and the seven-member girl group is slated to make a comeback with their single “ENTWURF” on Sept. 19. A teaser video film for the comeback was uploaded on Wednesday.