The lineup of tripleS is now complete. The rookie girl group, which originally debuted in February 2023, now has 24 members, all of whom will participate in tripleS’s first full group comeback this May. Known for their sub-units Acid Angel from Asia, +(KR)ystal Eyes, LOVElution, and EVOLution, the girl group’s activities are influenced by the fans through a novel approach pioneered by their agency MODHAUS.

The trouble with tripleS

MODHAUS—led by its founder and CEO Jaden Jeong, who also happens to be tripleS’s creative director and music producer—made it so fans could be part of the group’s creative process by voting on everything that has to do with tripleS. This includes things like stage names and unit formations, which are normally decided on by a group’s agency or staff. When fans buy NFT photocards called “Objekts,” they earn “COMO” tokens, which allow them to place their votes.

tripleS recently announced a 24-member comeback under the name ASSEMBLE24, set for May. The announcement was accompanied by a photo featuring all the members. When fans saw it, they theorized that the girls were arranged in order according to who sold the most Objekts. Although MODHAUS hasn’t confirmed or denied this, fans compared the members’ positions in the photo to the Objekt sales data. They found that the members who were front and center in the photo had sold more than the girls placed at the back.

This discovery sparked discussions within the fandom. Some believed it wasn’t fair, while others considered it downright toxic. Concerns were raised about the impact the arrangement could have on the members, especially on tripleS’s maknae, SeoAh, who is only 13 years old. Moreover, there are those who say they’re having a hard time getting into tripleS because they feel overwhelmed by the number of members.

The broader issues

Fans weren’t the only ones bothered by the group’s ranking system. Member Xinyu took to the fan communication platform Fromm, where she described the system as “cruel.” She likened it to her traumatic experiences on the Mnet survival show Girls Planet 999. Xinyu suggested that a randomized system might be better. However, soon after posting these comments, she issued a retraction and an apology, then deleted all her posts. Fans speculated that the group’s management might have pressured her to do so.

MODHAUS has yet to address the controversy surrounding Xinyu’s remarks or the broader issues related to the group’s management practices. Fans hope that Xinyu wasn’t punished for her honesty and that the agency will take steps to improve how members are treated. However, it seems like the agency may already be making changes. A quick check of tripleS’s social media shows new concept photos where the members aren’t arranged according to Objekt sales. Additionally, the track list for the group’s album has been released.

These issues notwithstanding, the album ASSEMBLE24 will be released as planned on May 8 at 6:00 PM. The 10-track collection will be bannered by the title track “Girls Never Die.” – K-Pop News Writer

Featured Image: This is tripleS’s latest photo featuring all 24 members. Notice how they’re arranged. This time, it’s not according to Objekt sales. Source: X/@triplescosmos.