Unlike most genres of pop, KPop has become very compartmentalized.
Acts no longer try to cater to the general public. I think the last act to try to obtain general support was X1. aespa might qualify but it is probably going to be the last of its kind.
Acts like txt, Stray Kids, enhypen, etc, the general public simply doesn't care. The older gen in Korea listens to trot, and the balladists and the person at the bottom of my post fill the gap for the general listeners which is why Jay Park's otherwise average song had stopped Gidle for quite a while at Melon.
Approval by the general public is nice to have, but not too necessary for the success of an act.
The primary cause for launching an act is to make money. And if an act has built a fanbase, it can survive for a long time just catering to the existing fanbase, while the general public doesn't know anything about it.
Gallup ranking , under age 40, 2021.
4. Lee Mujin
5. Lim Young Woong (trottist)
10. Brave girls
Other than aespa, there is no idol debuting after 2016. Lee Mujin is an audition winner but his stars are already fading.
Not one single idol group in the 4th gen , save aespa.
Having a concert in a big venue is nice. But consistently raking money from existing fans is a good stream of revenue . Companies can only get a few biggies once in a while; SM had aespa , which is the first biggie since EXO for SM.
Album sales are no longer for listening. They are kind of the goods of the idols, not to be listened but to be kept as decorations. Even idols selling more than 1 million copies are strangers outside of their fandoms.
Like fringe parties or fringe religions, each idol with a sizable fandom is a country of its own. They can care less about whatever is happening in the outside world, who don't really spend too much time on them anyways.
And companies only care about revenue. Doesn't matter if an idol is rotten. If the idol brings revenue, that's all it matters.
tl,dr, as the idols all seek to build a sizable fandom who will follow them to the end, and as the general public loses interest on them, idols will be even more atomized and compartmentalized that the opinion of the general public won't matter.
IN addition, other than rare exceptions like aespa, the acts won't really try to become the 'it girl' or something like that. They won't be fighting for domination anymore ; more likely, they will be more feudal, and will only be loyal to their fandom and no one else.
Which is why I think Hybe will get away , keeping Garam in the group and ignoring any criticism, since the opinion of general public won't matter and all it needs is the approval of its loyal fandom which will continue to shell money to LeSserafin to the end.