SMF judges face heavy criticism


BoA (left), Eunhyuk (middle), and Woo-young (right) pose for the SMF poster

Street Man Fighter (SMF) is the male version of the previously successful Street Woman Fighter (SWF) Korean reality show from Mnet. The show features 8 male dance crews competing for the title of the best dance crew through a series of missions. Its first episode aired on Aug. 23, and it has a total of five episodes so far. 

Similar to SWF, three judges—BoA, Eunhyuk, and Jang Woo-young—have been selected to evaluate the overall stage and dancers as well. Mnet’s production team praised South Korean K-pop star BoA’s contributions last season who was one of the main judges for SWF. Super Junior member Eunhyuk was chosen because of his main dancer title and sophisticated dance abilities, and 2PM’s Jang Woo-young for his street fighter background prior to his debut and experience with dance battles.   

However, the three judges are facing heavy criticism after its recent episode which aired on Sept. 20. In this episode, dance crews Prime Kingz and Bank Two Brothers engaged in a fierce dance battle of five rounds to decide the team of elimination. During the leaders’ battle between Prime Kingz’ TRIX and Bank Two Brothers’ J ROC, though fans believed that Trix had won the battle decisively, the judges forfeited their votes, leading to the decisive second round where J ROC won, paving the way for his crew’s victory. 

Fans’ ire tainted the judges’ social media pages and nate pann, a South Korean online forum. Fans find it difficult to accept why the judges, who they believe to be less qualified than the contestants, have the privilege to make decisions about groups of world-renowned professional dancers. Many others demand that the judges step down and no longer take-part in the show. 

“I have to admit that I was angry when watching the show as well,” Vivienne Chung (12), avid SWF and SMF viewer, said. “I think that there is a distinct difference between a K-pop star and a choreographer or professional dancer, and it would make more sense if people with the similar professional background as the dancers judged the show. I fully understand why both netizens and the international audience are so fired up about this issue.”

In response, BoA addressed the issue on her social media where she posted:

“It isn’t like the judges aren’t the ones who decide which teams battle for elimination… I’m getting tired of constantly thinking… Would you guys have been less upset if I dropped Bank Two Brothers?”

With the continuous outpouring of criticism, BoA’s entertainment released an official stance seeking legal action against hate comments:

“Hello, this is SM Entertainment. Currently, there are malicious comments spread through the artist’s social media, online communities, and portal sites. These acts are against the law and are subject to punishment. We would like to inform you that we are currently gathering evidence to pursue legal action in both civil and criminal courts. To protect our artists, we are constantly monitoring for evidence and are currently pursuing legal action. We will continue to pursue legal action against those who engage in criminal behavior. Thank you.”

Prime Kingz’ Trix even made a post on his social media, reassuring fans of his crew’s well-being. Many see this as an attempt to lessen the attack on the judges, yet fans continue to communicate their disapproval and heavy disappointment to this day.