Following the news of homegrown platoon-sized girl group JKT48’s newest and very young recruit, 10-year-old Chithlyn Gwynets Santoso, the band’s management has issued a statement addressing concerns about exploitation of underage members.
“The age range for those who want to join JKT48 is between 13 and 18 years old. We may admit those outside the age range if the management considers them to have determination and potential,” JKT48 media relations officer Rino Sutopo said on Tuesday.
He mentioned that former member Nabilah Ratna Ayu Azalia, who is one of the band’s most popular members, was only 11 years old when she joined the group.
“During her first interview, we told Chithlyn that JKT48 has a very busy schedule. However, she was used to doing many activities and therefore had no issues with that and was able to showcase her bravery and determination to join JKT48,” said Rino.
“[These girls] join JKT48 to fulfil their passion for the art scene. They’re able to develop their hobbies of singing, dancing and other performing arts, such as acting, with JKT48. So hopefully there’ll be no more concerns that they’re being exploited due to working at JKT48.
[In addition to] their own high interest and motivation, they also require permission from their parents to join JKT48. Therefore, they surely have their parents’ support during their activities,” said Rino.
He said the management was committed to protecting the members and making them a priority. “We protect them like our own children. The members’ safety and security are one of our priorities. Therefore we will always provide maximum protection as much as we can.”
Rino said, however, that JKT48 was part of the entertainment industry, not an educational institution.
“Of course, JKT48 is not a formal school as we don’t provide scientific education […] However, those who join JKT48 will feel like going to school since they get learning experiences and other knowledge.
JKT48 is indeed in the entertainment industry since our positioning is that we are a music idol group. Hence the members continue to pursue their formal education and make JKT48 activities their second priority.”
Rino added that no admission fees were required for the members to join.
“We never apply any fees for admission or anything else to the children or their family. They are given appreciation by the management for their performance,” he said.
“JKT48 is a place for those who have high dreams and spirit. If the girl’s spirit and interest in the entertainment world is high, why should we deter her?”