K-pop group’s new track banned over ‘sexually explicit’ lyrics

A still from the (G)I-Dle "Wife" music video

South Korea’s national broadcaster KBS has banned new (G)I-DLE track “Wife” due to its “sexually explicit” lyrics.

The popular girl group’s new song was released last Monday (22 January), prompting a review of the lyrics, which include “it’s bad if you spit out your full stomach/I’ll give you some more, stop wiping your saliva… little touch on my tongue” and “you can wipe it everywhere.”

According to Yonhap News Agency, KBS didn’t give specific details of the lyrics that led to the ban but noted that it contained “many metaphorical lyrics with sexual nuances” and that, should the group want to promote future songs, needing to change the lyrics may be “inevitable”.

Another track from the band’s upcoming album 2, “Rollie,” has also been banned, although all other songs have been approved for broadcast.

Who are (G)I-DLE?

Formed by Cube Entertainment in 2018, (G)I-DLE has five members: Miyeon, Minnie, Soyeon, Yuqi and Shuhua. A sixth singer, Soojin, left the line-up in August 2021.

Their debut single, “Latata,” arrived in May 2018, which found success in Japan after its release there the following year. As such, they’re regarded as one of the most successful South Korean girl bands from outside the “big four” record labels: Hybe Corporation, YG Entertainment, JYP Entertainment and SM Entertainment.

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(G)I-DLE made history in 2023, becoming the first act from an independent label to rank at number three in the Mediabase Top 40 Radio airplay charts. They also made number 40 on the US Billboard Pop Airplay chart with a non-English song, another ground-breaking moment for K-pop.

This isn’t the first instance that KBS has taken action against songs. “Dope” by BTS was banned in 2015 for containing “vulgar lyrics,” as was Blackpink’s “Kill This Love” in 2019. The reason? The music video showed member Rosé driving without a seatbelt.

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Blackpink are considered to be one of the most successful Suth Korean girl groups internationally, so much so that they’re attributed with spearheading the Korean Wave.

However, in September 2022 they faced a similar battle with KBS, when their single “Pink Venom” was removed from the rankings on its weekly music round-up.

The broadcaster ruled that the track violated Article 46 of the Broadcasting Regulations, set by the Korea Communications Standards Commission, a policy that bans specific references to brand or product names outside official sponsorship deals.

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