Member Mina's absence due to anxiety has not been glossed over by her bandmates or label.
One of the most common, and tired, slights about K-pop groups is that having a large amount of members means having a few missing in action can't possibly affect the team. But as TWICE begin their first-ever U.S. tour temporarily down one member, the girl group is showing how both an open dialogue about what is affecting one can lead to a growing understanding and set an accepting tone when it comes to the still-stigmatized conversations about mental health.
In early July, TWICE main dancer and vocalist Mina sat out of an event for the group in Japan for what was cited as "health reasons" from her Korean record label JYP Entertainment. Days later, on July 10, JYP shared a statement in Korean and English on their fan message board that the 22-year-old will sit out of the upcoming tour dates of the band's "TWICELIGHTS" world tour for reasons relating to her mental health. "Mina is currently struggling with sudden extreme anxiety and insecurity towards performing on stage," the company shared. "No exact diagnosis has been identified yet, and we are consulting with several medical professionals to verify the cause in detail. After extensive discussion with Mina and members of TWICE, we have decided that Mina’s current condition requires additional treatment, professional measures, and sufficient rest."
The announcement was not remarkable in that a K-pop star needed additional rest -- TWICE is well known for their extremely hard work ethic -- but in the openness in addressing the issue.
Many times when K-pop stars take breaks, their labels and agencies explain the situation with vague reasons such as "health concerns" or "personal reasons" if there is not an obvious physical injury like a sprained ankle or bruised back. While personal privacy should certainly be maintained if chosen, Mina and JYPE sharing that struggles with anxiety and insecurity have also made her unable to perform display a larger understanding about the difficulties of mental health. Just like your lungs, liver, stomach and kidneys, the brain is also an organ of the body and it too have can issues, even if not as obviously seen by problems with body parts. Mina choosing to rest and recover from her mental-health struggles are just as legitimate.
That same grace and acceptance was seen at TWICE's first-ever U.S. concert at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif. on July 17. Throughout the sold-out show, both the audience and TWICE members made sure to mention and keep Mina in the forefront of their minds even if she wasn't on stage. When the arena of the band's official CandyBong Z lightsticks turned mint green -- the representative color for Mina in TWICE -- leader Jihyo was sure to call out the moment and reference her band mate.
Jihyo : “it’s nice to see Mina’s color of your CBZ with us tonight”
At one point, the crowd began chanting Mina's name in a show of support for the singer despite her absense. The TWICE ladies also even seemed to leave a space for Mina during the larger group photo with the audience.
In another unexpected display, TWICE's official Twitter account even gave a mention to Mina's situation, sharing the message "She was here with us" alongside an on-the-ground clip filmed during the sea of mint green lights.
TWICE's fans would have understood if Mina, or any of the members, needed additional time to rest, the openness about this specific situation represents a growing understanding and openness about mental health still to be fully seen in the K-pop scene. Mina can't be replaced, of course, and TWICE and their team's overwhelming supportive response as she heals solidifies that message.
Looking ahead to larger impact of this time in TWICE's career, if one of the industry's undisputed leaders can speak openly and support one of their own through such times -- and emphasizing that being in top shape both physically and mentally is a priority -- there is no doubt there's a brighter tomorrow for those in similar situations.
The North American leg of TWICE's TWICELIGHTS Tour continues tonight, July 19, in Mexico City before hitting Newark and Chicago.