SM Entertainment’s rookie boy group, RIIZE, which stormed into the K-Pop scene alongside ZEROBASEONE in 2023, is now under intense scrutiny for alleged ‘sajaegi’ practices. The controversy surrounds their debut single album, ‘Get A Guitar’, which initially earned the coveted title of ‘Million-Selling’ during its first week of release.

RIIZE’s debut album made headlines in September 2023 when it reportedly sold over 1 million copies within the first week, securing its place alongside ZEROBASEONE in the exclusive million-sellers club.

According to Circle Chart’s monthly album sales chart from September, the total sales for ‘Get A Guitar’ reached 1,039,600 copies by the end of that month.
However, recent developments have left netizens questioning the authenticity of RIIZE’s million-seller status. According to the December edition of the Circle Chart, which reflects yearly sales, ‘Get A Guitar’ has recorded a decrease in total sales, now standing at 1,038,084 copies since its release.
What has further fueled suspicions is the group’s extensive use of fan events. RIIZE has organized over 60 events, requiring fans to purchase albums for special privileges and benefits, even after concluding promotions for ‘Get A Guitar’ and releasing subsequent singles like ‘Talk Saxy’ and ‘Love 119’. Instead of boosting the group’s yearly album sales, these events appear to have contributed to a decline in overall sales figures.
In the world of K-Pop, a common practice involves artists and their management collaborating with album distributors to strategically “place orders of albums in advance”. This tactic is not only legal but widely accepted, allowing distributors to anticipate higher demand and organize special events such as fan signs or lucky draw promotions. However, the key to this strategy lies in diligently “filling the quota” before concluding promotions for a specific album. In other words, artists ensure that the number of albums ordered and sold “in advance” aligns with the actual sales achieved through events and promotions.
Netizens have raised several points of concern. Firstly, RIIZE seemingly failed to achieve the intended sales quota associated with the advanced album orders, leading to a decrease in Circle Chart’s recorded album sales. Secondly, the group continued promotions for new songs while holding events associated with the old album, ‘Get A Guitar’. Lastly, doubts linger about whether RIIZE could have achieved million-seller status without resorting to advanced order tactics.
The online community is buzzing with comments as netizens express their skepticism and disappointment. One user remarked, “SM pulled a fast one to build hype for RIIZE so they could have the ‘Million-Seller’ title, but in the end, we won’t ever know if they were actually capable of selling a million albums just with their debut…” Another user criticized the accolades and attention received by the group, stating, “In the end, all of those awards that they got, all of that attention they’ve been getting as the ‘rising rookies’, was all fabricated lies”.

Another comment reflects a sense of disillusionment, claiming, “They should feel ashamed about being called ‘Million-Sellers.’ They barely met that 1 million quota by holding 60+ fan events even after they finished promotions and released new music”. Some netizens go as far as suggesting an alternative award, saying, “They shouldn’t be getting the ‘Best Rookie Award,’ they should be getting the ‘Best Sajaegi Award'”.
The unfolding controversy has ignited a wave of discussions within the K-Pop community, prompting fans and critics alike to reevaluate their perceptions of RIIZE and the industry at large.

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