As of writing, the South Korean girl group Red Velvet is coming up on the 9th anniversary of their debut. Red Velvet is a five-member Korean pop band under SM Entertainment consisting of members: Irene, Seulgi, Wendy, Joy, and Yeri. The group first debuted as a quartet in 2014 with the song, “Happiness.” The following year, they were joined by the youngest member Yeri in the song, “Ice Cream Cake.”
In the K-pop world, the anniversary of a group’s debut is considered to be very significant. They are typically celebrated both by the groups and their loyal fanbases. For example, earlier this summer, BTS held their annual BTS FESTA to mark the group’s 10th debut anniversary. For two weeks, the group released new music and recorded live performances, announced their memoir “BTS: Beyond The Story”, and held a live event in Yeouido Hangang Park in Seoul, South Korea.
As you can see, debut anniversaries matter very much in K-pop. This is why many ReVeluvs-Red Velvet fans- are quite peeved at the fact that SM Entertainment has yet to announce anything related to Red Velvet’s upcoming anniversary. In fact, it has become one of the many complaints launched against SM that have galvanized ReVeluvs to call out SM for their handling of Red Velvet over the years.
This past month, ReVeluvs have organized online to demand changes in how Red Velvet is being managed. On Twitter, ReVeluvs are trending hashtags like #LetUSTasteRedVelvet 3_0 and are pointing out the differences between how Red Velvet and other groups at SM are being treated. Reveluvs’ fan activism has also seen them send protest trucks right outside SM Entertainment’s company building with LED signs that demanded SM Entertainment treat Red Velvet better.
This is far from the first time that K-pop stans have sent protest trucks right outside a K-pop company’s building. In fact, Reveluvs wasn’t even the only fanbase to send protest trucks to SM’s way this month as EXO-Ls (EXO fans) did so as well. In recent years, sending protest trucks has become a common practice of fandom activism utilized amongst K-pop stans to make their dissatisfaction with how their idols are being treated known to their company and to put pressure on the said company to meet their demand for change. In this ongoing case with ReVeluvs, their demands range from Red Velvet finally getting their third full album to Red Velvet’s lightsticks to upgrading the group’s official lightstick. Fans also brought up grievances with Red Velvet’s recent “R to V” concert tour, named in reference to their song “Birthday,” from their most recent mini-album “The Reve Festival 2022 - Birthday.” ReVeluvs called the tour poorly planned and were upset that the tour only went as far as Europe and Asia in spite of Red Velvet having pretty steep international popularity. ReVeluvs also complained about SM booking venues for the tour that could accommodate a small crowd.
ReVeluvs have accused SM Entertainment of being negligent towards the careers of Red Velvet members. They point out that, despite being active for almost a decade, Red Velvet still has only two full albums under their belt. Fans have also pointed out that Red Velvet is the only group at SM Entertainment that isn’t signed to a US Label, doesn’t have a live concert album, and doesn’t have an official fan club in Japan. They’ve also criticized the company for not properly promoting the group and solo activities of the members and not sufficiently stocking enough albums to sell.
To add insult to injury, SM Entertainment's plans for August 1st-Red Velvet’s debut anniversary date-are to give more details about the new group that they’ll be debuting this September. SM does this while still not announcing plans for Red Velvet’s debut anniversary. Many fans see this as yet another instance of SM undervaluing Red Velvet and pushing the group aside in favor of focusing on the other groups at the company.
Red Velvet has been in the game since 2014. Being among peers like Twice and BLACKPINK, the quintet has been set apart due to the group’s unique dual concept that is expressed through their name. Their comebacks fall under either “Red” or “Velvet”. “Red” represents the lighter, poppier side of the group with songs like “Red Flavor” and “Russian Roulette” being more campy and cutesy. “Velvet” represents their more mature and darker side with songs like “Psycho” and “Bad Boy” having an edge to them. Such a dualistic concept has allowed Red Velvet to be very versatile in their comebacks and have a very colorful discography.
Despite hurdles like having no US Label and apparently not being properly promoted by their label, Red Velvet has been able to maintain a lot of success over the year. Their last full album, “The Reve Festival: Finale,” is the most streamed album on Spotify from any artist from SM. In fact, Red Velvet has outdone many of their labelmates. Despite the lack of promotion from SM and the company not properly stocking the albums, “Reve Festival 2022 - Birthday” was still able to sell a million copies. Their most impressive achievement is growing a domestic and an international fanbase; the protests have seen both fanbases come together to support Red Velvet.
As of writing this, SM Entertainment hasn’t responded to the protests.
Edited by Shahnawaz Chodhry
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