K-Pop

SEVENTEEN Silences “Fake Popularity” Accusations with a Shocking Move 

After being accused of having “fake popularity” and sales, boy group SEVENTEEN makes history with their latest move.

Since the release of their 10th mini album, *FML*, in April 2023, SEVENTEEN’s popularity has skyrocketed, with physical album sales reaching as high as 6.2 million copies.

Building on this success, SEVENTEEN released their 11th mini album, *Seventeenth Heaven*, in October 2023, setting a new record with 5 million copies sold in the first week. With these two explosive comebacks, the 13-member group became the world’s highest-selling album artist of 2023, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI).

Debuting in 2015, SEVENTEEN progressed slowly but surely. Starting from a small company, they struggled to make a mark in the competitive K-pop market. In 2020, their agency Pledis was acquired by HYBE Corporation, bringing SEVENTEEN under Bang Si-hyuk’s conglomerate.

In late April 2024, the boy group made a comeback with the Best Album: “17 Is Right Here” and the title track “Maestro”, achieving 3 million copies sold in the first week. However, due to the simultaneous controversy involving HYBE and Min Hee-jin, SEVENTEEN was caught in the crossfire.

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In particular, the feud between HYBE and Min Hee-jin exposed many dark sides of the K-pop industry, including issues of plagiarism, copying, and achievement manipulation. In particular, Min Hee-jin accused HYBE of “sales manipulation” (a form of fraud to increase album sales), leading to many speculations about the true achievements of artists under HYBE, including SEVENTEEN.

This led many to suspect that SEVENTEEN was involved in “sales manipulation” and start to doubt the boy group’s million-selling status. On various K-pop forums, anti fans continuously attacked the 13 members, speculating that SEVENTEEN has fake popularity and sales. According to the anti fans, SEVENTEEN’s streaming performance did not match their album sales, and so the latter is likely manipulated.

A viral post accusing SEVENTEEN of manipulating their album sales read, “With this kind of influence, they (SEVENTEEN) would be number one on the Billboard 200 and could tour the world in stadiums. They can’t just sell this much in Asia alone. How can SEVENTEEN sell as much as Taylor Swift in Western countries? It’s strange for a group like SEVENTEEN to sell so much when they haven’t reached the popularity levels of EXO, BTS, or Wanna One.”

Some even went to the trouble of compiling statistics showing the disparity between album sales and streaming numbers to highlight the suspicious aspects of SEVENTEEN’s million-selling status. Antifans further twisted the group’s popularity, claiming that SEVENTEEN used a strategy of “fake popularity” by leveraging HYBE’s media play and inflated sales numbers without truly being that popular.

Faced with these doubts of fake popularity, SEVENTEEN had a unique response that silenced the anti fans. Particularly, the group recently held 2 nights of concerts at the Nissan Stadium in Japan, making them the 2nd K-pop group in history, after the legendary TVXQ, to perform at this stadium with a capacity of 72,000 audiences and known as the “dream stage” for all Asian stars. Even more special, the boy group achieved such a record on the same date as their 9th debut anniversary.

Seeing the over 70,000 seats filled with no empty spots—even in the restricted view areas – during both nights of concerts at Nissan, fans were overwhelmed with pride. The sea of Carat Bongs (lightsticks of SEVENTEEN) with blue and pink lights shining in Nissan Stadium created an unforgettable moment in SEVENTEEN’s nine-year journey.

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Another element that amazed people was the speed at which SEVENTEEN’s concert tickets sold out. For instance, the two massive recent shows sold out all tickets, including the restricted view areas at Nissan, yet there still weren’t enough tickets for all fans. This shows SEVENTEEN’s fandom is growing, especially in the major markets of Korea, China, and Japan. Around 20,000 people were still looking for tickets on Japanese ticketing sites after the sold out.

With the two final nights at Nissan, SEVENTEEN officially concluded their Asian Follow tour, totaling 28 shows. After completing four final performances in Japan, the Follow tour is expected to reach 1 million attendees, with revenue exceeding 100 million dollars—a significant figure for a tour confined to one continent.

Source: K14

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