China: Teenager apologises for impersonating boy to join band

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Fu JiayuanImage source, Weibo
Image caption,
Fu Jiayuan said she would quit the entertainment industry

A young girl in China has apologised for "deceiving fans" after trying to join a boy band.

Fu Jiayuan, 13, said she lied about her gender to a popular management company because she was "young and ignorant".

Even though she was only part of YGN Youth Club's boot camp and not an official band member, fans could watch her training videos on social media.

Many YGN Youth Club fans were amused by the revelation, and said it was "not a big deal."

But Ms Fu, who was forced to admit the deception after an internet user pointed out that she is a girl, said she would now quit the entertainment industry.

"I'm sorry to everyone who put their trust in me," she wrote in a statement earlier this week. "I promise I will not show up in the entertainment industry or on any video platforms in the future."

YGN Youth Club only recruits young boys, most aged between 11 and 13. A challenging programme trains them in song and dance techniques and moulds them into future idols.

The company said the mistake happened because auditions had been held online due to the pandemic.

"Our staff were negligent in the work process... In the future, we will adhere strictly to the company's rules and regulations," it said in a statement.

Many fans have come to Ms Fu's defence, however, and jokingly compared her to the Chinese folk heroine Mulan.

According to legend, Mulan was a young woman who disguised herself as a man so that she could fight to save her family and country. The story is known globally after it was turned into a Disney film.

"The look of idol groups is so androgynous these days, so it's hard to tell. Just let her join," read a popular comment on the microblogging platform Weibo.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Boy bands are a massive industry in China (pictured: popular group TFBoys, who made their debuts aged 12 and 13)

Boot camps like YGN Youth Club's are widely sought-after because families see it as a chance for their children to become rich and famous.

A study titled the "White paper on idol industry and fan economy in 2019" estimated that China's idol market would reach 100 billion Yuan ($15b; £11b) by 2020.

The group TFBoys, for example, who made their showbiz debut in 2013 when the members were 12 and 13, have since become household names.

But the management companies behind young bands have sometimes been criticised for taking advantage of young children for commercial gain.

In recent months, China has intensified its crackdown on the entertainment industry and said it will ban what the national broadcaster described as "effeminate" styles and "vulgar influencers" in programmes.

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