Trigger warning: This post may contain sensitive topics that might be very triggering and upsetting to some, like abuse and suicide, so continue at your own discretion.
Being popular is a dream come true for many, specially in South Korea, but let me tell you something, it is not that easy. For them, image is everything. And it only takes one mistake for their careers to go spiraling downwards. It is one true fact that a lot of Kpop idols had suffered this consequence due to their actions (some caused by other people or something else) over the years. It is also quite noticeable that these "scandals" are often thrown on the sidelines by Western countries because most of them are not that big of a deal in their standards, but Koreans, specially those in the entertainment industry, take even tiny slip ups really seriously.
Scandals in the Kpop industry has been emerging here and there over the years, some of them more severe than the others to the point that it completely destroys an idol's career overnight. We've compiled some of the ones that had shocked Kpop fans locally and globally to the core.
1. Burning Sun scandal
Photo: CNN, YouTube
This is probably the biggest controversy to completely sweep the nation of South Korea in a long time. Burning Sun is a club in Gangnam that was affiliated with Seungri, member of one of the biggest Kpop groups in the industry, Big Bang. Issue after another began unraveling after an assault complaint by a clubgoer was raised against one of the club's staff. During investigation, it was found out that the club was involved in prostitution and drugs. Seungri was dragged even further when Jung Joon-young, a South Korean singer and songwriter, revealed that he had secretly recorded his intimate encounters with women and shared those videos without consent in a group chat that involves several other Kpop idols, including Seungri.
A series of text messages have been released at the time of investigation and it was later known to involve Choi Jong Hoon, a member of the group F.T. Island, and some other people who are not in the entertainment industry. The said issue triggered a wide protest on Women's day (March 8, 2019) to call out the awful culture of men often objectifying women.
Seungri, Choi Jong Hoon and Jung Joon-young had eventually announced their retirement from the entertainment industry.
2. Kim Hyun Joong
In the year 2014, the entertainment industry was alerted of a case that would involve the actor and idol (former member of the boy group SS501) Kim Hyun Joong after his ex-girlfriend filed charges against him while going in detail about the alleged abuse that she suffered from him while they were together. She provided medical records showing her broken ribs and also photos of her injuries and bruises. She released a lot of evidences for her claims and the lack of word from Kim Hyun Joong had caused a stir to the controversy. Fans and everyone else were torn on who of the pair they would believe but most have shown loyalty and still sided with Kim Hyun Joong.
The actor and idol's agency later revealed that the broken rib was from an accident since Kim Hyun Joong was practicing martial arts and he didn't mean to hurt his girlfriend. An apology was issued and his ex-girlfriend, who was only known as "Ms. Choi", dropped the charges, but he was still later fined.
Ms. Choi once again emerged and claimed that she was pregnant with Kim Hyun Joong's child on February 2015 which brought everything back into the spotlight, his ex-girlfriend later sued him again for the damages he had inflicted on her as well as the emotional distress it did that caused a miscarriage of her first pregnancy. Kim Hyun Joong counter sued and had claimed victorious after Ms. Choi was found guilty of fraud and defamation due to her manipulating her pregnancy tests and fabricating text messages between her and Kim Hyun Joong and was eventually fined.
3. Son Ho-Young
Photo: Asia 24/7
May 2013 was when Son Ho-Young, a singer of the group G.O.D., never thought something so horrible would happen. A woman was found dead inside his car and it was revealed that it was his girlfriend. A note was also found inside the car that was written by her and it says "I feel disappointed in Son Ho-Young". A rep for the Kpop idol claimed that there had been arguments between to couple but they were quite small and not something that will ultimate end into something like that. Son Ho-Young was taken in for questioning and was so devastated that he tried to commit suicide the same way his girlfriend did, but the butane he used accidentally set his car on fire but he managed to get away from the scene, he was taken to the hospital with no lasting physical damage but they keep his mental state in check.
4. Park Bom
Fans were shocked in 2014 when news broke that Park Bom, a member of the popular girl group 2ne1, was accused of smuggling drugs from the U.S.A. to her home in South Korea. The issue caused her and the rest of the group to go into a long hiatus until Minzy left the group 2 years later. 2ne1 was eventually disbanded. It was later revealed that the "drugs" were pills prescribed by Park Bom's doctor in the United States due to some issues that she was facing. She was suffering from trauma and depression because of an incident in her childhood in the U.S. (where she grew up) where she witnessed her soccer teammate die on the field. Her doctor has prescribed her with Adderall but it was unfortunately banned in South Korea, it was intercepted by authorities and it all went downhill from there.
Park Eun-hye, whose stage name is Ivy, is a popular Kpop artist in South Korea. A controversy started surrounding her when she released her second album second album, Vol. 2 – A Sweet Moment, the lead single, which was "Sonata of Temptation", was quite a success, but the music video that goes with it was hit by plagiarism accusations due to the fact that the said MV was an exact reenactment of the popular fight scene between Tifa Lockhart and Loz of Square-Enix's Final Fantasy 7: Advent Children (the movie sequel of a popular PlayStation game Final Fantasy 7).
Ivy was hit by another controversy years later when her former boyfriend blackmailed her of releasing their private videos and photos unless she pay him a hefty sum of $45,000. It was said that this ex-boyfriend who only goes by the name of "Yoo" was in possession of Ivy's intimate videos and nude photos, though he was arrested before he could even release anything.
Tragedy struck on December 2017 when reports came out that Jonghyun, the lead singer of a popular boy group SHINee, was found unconscious in a rented private unit in Cheongdam-dong, Gangnam, then later died in the hospital. Prior to this incident, his sister has been receiving distressing messages from him like "Please let me go, tell me I did well". Jonghyun left a suicide note to a friend and fellow singer Nine9 of the group Dear Cloud, where it was indicated the reason why he took his own life, he said that he was feeling a depression that was eating him up and he couldn't cope with the demands of the entertainment industry and fame anymore. Nine9 tried to reach out to Jonghyun but even him could not stop his friend's tragic passing.
Jonghyun was only 27.
KangIn, a member of a boy group Super Junior, is no stranger when it comes to controversy. He was involved in 2 incidents of DUI hit-and-run, the first one was in 2009 and the second one occurred years later in 2016 where he took down a street lamp under the influence then fled the scene. He was later caught in another scandal a year later when there were reports that he assaulted his girlfriend in a restaurant. KangIn went on a hiatus from Super Junior after his second DUI incident before leaving the group for good.
8. Park Yoochun
Park Yoochun, a member of the group JYJ, is also no stranger when it comes to scandal. In 2016, he was involved in an issue after four women came forward and accused him of sexually assaulting them. The said assaults happened between 2014 to 2016 and one of them was said that it happened inside a bar bathroom but due to lack of evidence, the cases were later on thrown under the bus and he was found not guilty.
He gained spotlight once again for the wrong reason, when his ex-fiancé, Hwang Hana was arrested for drug abuse. Park Yoochun called for a press conference where he denied all connection and allegations of his involvement regarding the issue, he also mentioned that his ex-fiancé was threatening him after they broke up. He agreed for an investigation where a drug test was done, unfortunately, Meth was found on the left over hair that they extracted from him (which he tried to wax, by the way, before the investigation) and found his test positive and was arrested. His record label immediately cancelled their contract with him after this and Park Yoochun eventually retired.
9. Baek Ji-young
A young Baek Ji-young did not expect to be the center of attention in the year 2000 but it was not the way that she had hoped for, apparently, her manager released a lewd video involving her and the said manager (who later admitted that he filmed it in secret) doing stuff that was meant to be private. Her manager later decided to leave the country but he was arrested in the U.S. for getting intimate with a minor. It was such a blow for Baek Ji-young's career that she was forced to go on a hiatus and hold fan meetings in far places like mountains, because she was scared that people would know that these people were her fans and they could get bullied because of her.
When she had managed to get over the initial scandal she was involved in and was able to go back to the industry, she faced yet another one which involved her husband, Jung Suk Won, a South Korean actor, who was arrested for meth use during his trip to Australia in 2018.
Photo: Animo Apps
In October 2018, this Kpop group under Media Line Entertainment, broke their silence about the physical, mental and psychological abuse they had to endure which was caused by a producer named Moon Young Il, while the CEO just watched and did nothing to stop it. Lee Seokcheol, the group's leader, released disturbing images of their injuries which was the result of using different items during the said assaults, mentioned items were mops with iron bars, baseball bats and mic stands. Lee Seokcheol also claimed that there was even an incident where he was strangled using a guitar string. A lot of other incidents were reported but I will no longer add them here for they are too graphic and disturbing and might cause some triggers to some.
Are there any other Kpop idols or groups that you think should be added on this list? Tell us in the comment section below.