K-Pop Girl Group aespa Respond to HYBE Chairman’s Remarks About “Crushing” Them


South Korean entertainment agency SM Entertainment’s girl group aespa has addressed a recent controversy involving Hybe chairman Bang Si-hyuk. The group stated they are not taking his comments seriously.

Karina, the leader of the girl group, spoke about the issue during a press conference in Seoul on 27 May 2024, when reporters asked the girls about how they feel about making a comeback around the same time.

She said, “We are aware of the situation, and people around us have mentioned it. But since we were busy preparing for our first full-length studio album, we didn’t pay much attention to it.”

aespa consists of four members: Karina, 24; Winter, 23; Ningning, 21; and Giselle, 23.

HYBE Labels’ “Civil War”

By now, most K-pop fans would be familiar with the whole “HYBE Versus Ador” situation, but that is a whole other Korean drama to unpack another day. 

But what exactly did aespa, a group from SM Entertainment, do to be dragged into this? (Is it because they had a song called “Drama”..?)

The controversy arose in April 2024 during a press conference held by Min Hee-jin, the CEO of Ador record label, where she addressed rumours alleging her involvement in a conspiracy against HYBE.

These rumours suggested that she had instructed her staff to gather adversarial information about the BTS agency (Again, a story for another day).

During this fateful press conference, Min had revealed old text messages apparently sent to her by Bang Si-hyuk on 2 December 2021.

Image: YTN Live
  • Bang Si Hyuk: “You can crush aespa, right? Heh.”
  • Min Hee Jin: “Hahaha.”
  • Bang Si Hyuk: “Hahaha. I’m leaving it to you then (emoji). When shall we have a drink?”

For context, aespa had debuted under SM Entertainment in November 2020 with the single “Black Mamba”, a powerful entrance to the K-pop scene which earned them Rookie of the Year awards at all major South Korean music award shows.

In these messages, Bang asked Min to create a girl group that could “crush” aespa.

HYBE is known for producing immensely successful boy bands like BTS and Tomorrow X Together, but they struggled to create a standout girl group for a number of years.

With the formal establishment of Ador on 12 November 2021, NewJeans made their debut in July 2022, with the release of the single “Attention,” which quickly rose to the number-one spot on South Korea’s Circle Digital Chart, marking their first chart-topping success.

The rookie girl group swiftly climbed their way to the top. In 2023, NewJeans achieved a remarkable feat by becoming the first female artist to clinch the Artist of the Year title at both the MAMA Awards and the Melon Music Awards in the same year.

Additionally, they received accolades for Best Female Group and Song of the Year for their hit single “Ditto” at the Melon Music Awards.

As such, due to both groups’ massive success and despite their very different aesthetics and musical sounds, aespa and NewJeans are inadvertently pitted against each other as rivals.


aespa and NewJeans Still Remain Close

Both groups had recently made new releases in May, just a few days apart.

NewJeans released their single “How Sweet” on May 24, while Aespa released their first studio album “Armageddon” on May 27.

Like innocent children of feuding families, both girl groups reportedly have no bad blood between one another, with aespa emphasising there is no animosity between them and NewJeans.

Karina explained in the press conference, “We recently saw them in the waiting room of a TV music show. We exchanged (finger) hearts with each other. There’s nothing to worry about.”

Ningning also stated that their focus was not on competing with NewJeans or any other group, but rather on challenging themselves.


She expressed, “Music is quite objective. Our journey is about constant growth and self-improvement rather than comparison with others. Every artist possesses distinct colours and charms, making comparisons or substitutions irrelevant.”

Interactions between the members of these two powerhouse girl groups were also caught on camera.

On 26 May 2024, aespa faced off against IVE and Zico in a tight competition for the top spot of music show “Inkigayo”, ultimately securing victory with a narrow margin of a few hundred points.

Fans were quick to observe the adorable exchange between aespa and NewJeans as the latter exited the stage. Both fourth-generation K-pop groups exchanged bows with wide smiles, with Danielle even sending a heart gesture their way.

Image: YouTube (@SBSKPOP)

NewJeans seemingly were unable to contain their joy, beaming with delight as they made eye contact with the senior girl group.

Netizens took to commenting on the heartwarming interaction, describing it as “cute” and appreciating the kindness displayed between the two groups.


Users of social media platform X wrote, “In a society that constantly tries to pit women against each other, seeing NewJeans and aespa come out the other side and support each other is pretty **** amazing.”

aespa and NewJeans’ Latest Works

aespa’s latest single “Supernova” from the album has topped the Melon Top 100 Chart and the Hanteo Digital Chart as of Monday. NewJeans’ “How Sweet” is in second place.

Talking about their latest title track “Armageddon”, Winter described it as a retro song with hip-hop elements. She added, “It has strong beats and a catchy hook that many call the ‘SM style’ of music. We wanted to showcase the true essence of Aespa’s music in this new album.”

In summary, while there was some drama involving remarks from Hybe’s chairman, aespa has stayed focused on their music and album release, showing no ill will towards NewJeans.

As they say, comparison is the thief of joy. Let’s just sit back and enjoy good music as both groups continue to achieve success with their latest works, securing top positions on major music charts.