Scandalicious: The Year in K-Pop 2014

The scandals that rocked the K-pop industry in 2014
The scandals that rocked the K-pop industry in 2014
27 Mar 2015

The scandals that rocked the K-pop industry in 2014

Any avid K-pop fan would agree with us – it has been a rough year for the Korean entertainment industry.

From exposed love lives and high-profile break-ups to car accidents and members leaving groups, the K-pop scene has been hit by heart-stopping news one after another in the past 12 months.

Before the year wraps, we look back on the biggest scandals and controversies that have rocked the Hallyu world this year.

But the good news is, 2014 is coming to an end and we sure hope for a better year in K-pop ahead

 

Idols’ love lives exposed
Idols’ love lives exposed
11 Mar 2015

Idols’ love lives exposed

Drama meter: 5/5

2014 is the year where love blossomed in K-pop, and particularly in S.M Entertainment.

At the beginning of the year, Girls’ Generation member YoonA and singer-actor Lee Seung Gi’s budding romance came to light after they were spotted together on several occasions by the paparazzi. Just two days later, fellow GG member Sooyoung admitted to her relationship with actor Jung Kyung-ho, breaking more fanboys’ hearts all over the world.

In April, Tiffany and her beau, 2PM heartthrob Nichkhun, jumped onto the bandwagon when S.M Entertainment and JYP Entertainment confirmed that they are dating. Then came the big revelation about GG leader Taeyeon’s May-December romance with EXO’s Baekhyun, which also drew the worst backlash. 

After numerous reports of f(x)’s Sulli and Dynamic Duo’s Choiza relationship, the latter’s agency Amoeba Culture finally confirmed that the pair is indeed dating. The press release read: “The two were of good sunbae-hoobae (junior-senior) relationship at first, but they started developing interest in each other and are now seeing each other with good feelings.”

Idols’ love lives exposed
Idols’ love lives exposed
11 Mar 2015

Idols’ love lives exposed

The next person to come clean about his relationship status was Super Junior’s Sungmin, who not only went public with his musical co-star Kim Sa Eun, but also shockingly announced his marriage plans. Despite disapproval from some of Sungmin’s die-hard fans, the couple tied the knot in an elaborate wedding ceremony on Dec 13. 

Although BIGBANG’s leader G-Dragon has long been rumoured to be dating Japanese model Mizuhara Kiko, photos of the two behaving intimately emerged for the first time in October this year. In response, YG Entertainment released an ambiguous statement: “We tend to respect the personal lives of our artists so we don’t have anything to tell you at the moment.”

While speaking to the media, fellow BIGBANG member Taeyang made a sharp (but true) comment on the situation for celebrities in kimchi land. “I think it is only in South Korea where an official statement is needed for our private lives,” he said.

 

Lovers no more
Lovers no more
11 Mar 2015

Lovers no more

Drama meter: 4/5

Romance may have flourished for some idols, but unfortunately, a number of Korean celebrities had to suffer from bitter break-ups in 2014.

In July, Girl’s Day’s Minah and South Korean footballer Son Heung Min was reported to be seeing each other after getting close on social media and meeting a couple of times. However, their affection could not withstand the long distance as Heung Min plays for Bayer Leverkusen in Germany. According to Dream T Entertainment, the two gradually grew apart due to their busy schedules.

To the disappointment of K-drama fans, the relationship between Queen In-hyun's Man’s reel-to-real couple Yoo In Na and Ji Hyun Woo failed to work out in the end. In 2012, the pair got together following Hyun Woo’s public declaration of love, after romantic sparks flew between the two during filming. When the actor was discharged from the military in May this year, both agencies confirmed that they are no longer an item. 

Similarly, the well-loved couple of Goddess of Fire: Jeonji, Kim Bum and Moon Geun Young, announced the end of their six-month romance in May. This came as a shock for many as the two had appeared to be in stable relationship, even going on a sweet Europe vacation together last November. 

Lovers no more
Lovers no more
11 Mar 2015

Lovers no more

Back in September 2013, The Heirs star Kim Woo Bin was revealed to be dating model Yoo Ji Ahn even before he debuted as an actor. Although the lovebirds acknowledged their relationship, they called it quits in January this year. News of their split, however, was only announced four months later.

Just three months after admitting to their relationship, actor Lee Jin Wook and Master’s Sun star Gong Hyo Jin announced their split in late September. During the same period, Jo In Sung, Hyo Jin’s co-star inIt’s Okay, That’s Love, went separate ways with his girlfriend Kim Min Hee whom he has been dating for the past one and a half years – which sparked rumours that things got real between the onscreen couple, leading to the two break-ups.

While it took seven years for Se7en and Park Han Byul to come clean about their relationship in 2009, the couple, in a similar fashion, belatedly announced the end of their 12-year romance this week. A statement from the actress’ agency Daydream Entertainment said that the two artistes decided to “take a break” in early 2014, but they remain on amiable terms.

Traffic accidents
Traffic accidents
11 Mar 2015

Traffic accidents

Drama meter: 5/5

K-pop idols are infamously known for their tight schedules which have repeatedly caused traffic accidents as they rush from one location to another.

This year, one of the worst accidents in Korean showbiz history claimed two young lives of girl group Ladies’ Code members EunB and Rise in September. 

In the wake of EunB and RiSe’s passing, Korean netizens paid tribute to the girls by sending Ladies’ Code’s single “I’m Fine Thank You” to the top of music charts, fulfilling a dream that EunB always had. After investigations proved that the accident resulted from speeding, the group’s 26-year-old manager, known as “Park”, has been arrested and indicted on the charge of causing a fatal crash.

Later that month, fans suffered another rude shock when BIGBANG’s Seungri was reported to be involved in a car accident on the night before he was due to fly to Singapore for the YG Family concert. To our relief, the 24-year-old escaped with light injuries but he had to be hospitalised for treatment of light bleeding in his liver.

Few days later, a van containing GOT7’s JB was reportedly hit by a bus. The singer was immediately sent to the hospital and he was allowed to be discharged after X-Ray scans showed no signs of serious injury.

Earlier this year, actress Gong Hyo Jin underwent two surgeries for injuries sustained during a road accident. While talking about the incident, the It’s Okay, That’s Love star revealed that besides getting treatment for her fractured arm and injured knee, she also received mental-health therapy to get over the trauma from the car crash.

Accidents involving K-pop idols BESTie, Badkiz and Dal Shabet’s Subin also made headlines in 2014. Fortunately, none of them resulted in fatalities or severe injuries.   

K-pop idols’ departure from their groups
K-pop idols’ departure from their groups
11 Mar 2015

K-pop idols’ departure from their groups

Drama meter: 5/5

At the start of the year, the 12 boys of EXO showed potential to join the top tier of the Hallyu pyramid with their explosive popularity and record-breaking album sales. The group is set to continue conquering fangirls’ hearts with an impending comeback in 2015, albeit with 10 members left.

In May, EXO-M leader Kris sent shockwaves across the K-pop industry, when he filed a lawsuit against S.M Entertainment to nullify his contract with the agency.

Before EXO-L (fandom name) could recover from the shock and heartbreak, Luhan followed in Kris’ footsteps and filed a lawsuit against the company with assistance from the same law firm, Hankyul Law Group, in October. After leaving EXO, the two remain active in Chinese showbiz as their acting projects are slated to be released in the near future.

As if it hadn’t been a scandal-filled year for S.M Entertainment, the agency released a statement on f(x)’s official page in July, stating that Sulli will “take a break” from her showbiz activities with immediate effect, due to “physical and mental exhaustion” from the widespread malicious rumours about the 20-year-old. However, speculations on the reasons for her hiatus continued spreading – some netizens even claimed that Sulli had to quit f(x) because of her relationship with Choiza.

Girls’ Generation, S.M Entertainment’s most successful girl group, is one team which we would never expect to suffer the same fate as their labelmates. In one jaw-dropping Weibo post, “Ice Princess” Jessica proclaimed that she was kicked out of the group on Sep 30, due to conflict of interest between her self-established fashion label BLANC and her activities with Girls’ Generation. This laid the carpet for days of speculation and debate among fans who, even until today, find it hard to believe that the group is now an octet.

K-pop idols’ departure from their groups
K-pop idols’ departure from their groups
11 Mar 2015

K-pop idols’ departure from their groups

Following MBLAQ's Curtain Call concerts, Lee Joon and Thunder officially announced their departure from the group. Prior to this, there had been rumours that the two intend to focus on their acting career after their contracts with J.Tune Camp expire in late November. The agency also stated that MBLAQ will not disband, though it has not been confirmed if there will be new additions to the line-up.

RELATED: 
When K-pop idols leave their groups

Idols vs. Netizens
Idols vs. Netizens
11 Mar 2015

Idols vs. Netizens

Drama meter: 3/5

While social media has opened up a new platform of communication between celebrities and fans, it has also invited trolls and pranksters to stir trouble on the Internet.

Last month, JYP Entertainment declared that the agency will be taking legal action against a netizen who kept leaving nasty comments on miss A’s Suzy’s Twitter posts. The anti-fan even repeatedly wished the singer dead, a behaviour that disturbed both the artiste and her fans.

Earlier this year, 4Minute’s HyunA became the poor victim of a malicious prank when her “nude photo” surfaced on social media. The picture, which showed the singer posing topless, was allegedly found in a male idol’s lost mobile phone. As Cube Entertainment vowed to seek prosecution of the perpetrator, sharp-eyed fans pointed out that the “nude photo” was photoshopped from a picture that HyunA previously uploaded on Instagram.

A similar case happened to international star Rain last month. An alleged naked picture of the singer-actor, said to be leaked from his girlfriend Kim Tae Hee’s lost phone, was circulated online. “The culprit may have treated it as a joke, but if there are no actions from the victim, they may repeat such behaviour in the future so we have to identify the culprit,” Rain’s legal representative Kim Nam Hong said.

Seo Jisoo of rookie girl group Lovelyz was recently admitted into the hospital for trauma suffered from the wave of malicious rumours targeted at her. According to Korean media, the 20-year-old was accused of sexually abusing girls and spreading nude photos of her victims in the past. Police investigations are ongoing and Woollim Entertainment has stated that Jisoo is currently staying with her parents and that she has no plans to join Lovelyz for their debut promotions at the moment.

Idols’ hidden past uncovered
Idols’ hidden past uncovered
11 Mar 2015

Idols’ hidden past uncovered

Drama meter: 4/5

Since June, Park Bom has stopped taking part in domestic activities due to an alleged drug smuggling case four years ago. According to KBS News, the 2NE1 member was caught for attempting to transport approximately 80 amphetamine pills into Korea from the United States in Oct 2010, an act which is illegal in the Land of the Morning Calm. Her case was later dropped as her medical records from a university hospital in the US proved that she was prescribed the drug during her time there.

While the news was shocking, the unveiling of Bom’s traumatic past (witnessing the death of a teammate on the soccer field) – which caused her to fall into depression (this was why she needed the medication) and which she had hoped would be buried in the abyss of time – also distressed many fans.

Recently, S.M Rookies’ Taeyong became a hot topic among Korean netizens for the wrong reasons. The aspiring idol was exposed to be a scammer on a website called “Joonggonara” (similar to eBay) when he was younger. As more horror stories from his past were revealed by his victims, S.M Entertainment released an apology statement on Taeyong’s behalf.

The statement read: “He deeply regrets his mistakes from middle school when he wasn’t old enough to make proper judgements. He would like to apologise to everyone who was affected by his actions back then. The company will also try our best to raise him to become an artiste with good performing skills as well as personal values.”

Good guys gone bad?
Good guys gone bad?
11 Mar 2015

Good guys gone bad?

Drama meter: 4/5

Who would have imagined the gentlemanly Kim Hyun Joong to become the defendant of a domestic abuse case?

In August, it was reported that Hyun Joong’s ex-girlfriend “A” filed a lawsuit against the actor for physical abuse over the course of two months. Although Keyeast Entertainment claimed that there was an isolated incident where an argument between the couple turned violent, photos of injuries on the victim’s chest, arms, knee and legs were later exposed, suggesting that Hyun Joong had repeatedly hurt his former lover. 

Following Hyun Joong’s confession and public apology, “A” dropped charges against the actor. However, the 28-year-old will still face one charge of causing bodily harm to his ex-girlfriend who took two weeks to recover from her wounds and bruises.

This year, we also found out that things aren’t always as rosy as it looks. Despite being touted as Korea’s golden celebrity couple, Lee Byung Hun and Lee Min Jung’s one-year marriage was put to test when the former was embroiled in a blackmail scandal involving two younger women, namely GLAM’s Kim Da Hee and model Lee Jiyeon.

The actor was allegedly filmed making lewd comments during a drinking session with the two ladies. Byung Hun also reportedly had an affair with Jiyeon who decided to blackmail him for 5 billion won (approximately S$5 million) after he abruptly broke up with her. 

Even though investigations have shown that Byung Hun is the victim in the case, the 44-year-old made a public apology to his wife, who travelled to Europe to shun the media shortly after the scandal broke.

Idols vs. Agencies
Idols vs. Agencies
11 Mar 2015

Idols vs. Agencies

Drama meter: 4/5

In September, Korean boy band ZE:A’s leader Moon Jun Young took to Twitter account to publicly criticise his agency Star Empire Entertainment and threaten to expose their misdeeds – information that could affect the entire industry, he claimed.

The singer later announced that he has reached a compromise with the company and declared that the entire matter was a misunderstanding. In October, Jun Young apologised on the group’s official fancafe for the “stormy time” that he put everyone through. He concluded his post by announcing his indefinite hiatus from ZE:A, which was later confirmed by the agency.

And if you thought the days of “slave contracts” were over, B.A.P filed a lawsuit against TS Entertainment to terminate their contracts, citing unfair income distribution, lack of transparency in accounts and unreasonable working conditions as reasons.

The members also stated that their contract straps them to the agency for more than seven years, as the effectiveness of the agreement started not on the date of the signing, but when their first album was released. In summary, the terms of the contract were simply too one-sidedly advantageous for the company. 

Adding to the long list of lawsuits this year, YouTube star-turned-singer Megan Lee recently gained attention for her dispute with Soulshop Entertainment owned by g.o.d’s Kim Tae Woo. In the words of the 19-year-old, Kim Tae Woo's wife Kim Ae Ri and mother-in-law Ms. Kim’s tyrannical actions and verbal abuse led to her decision to file for contract nullification against the agency.

In response, Soulshop Entertainment released a lengthy statement to rebut Megan’s accusations. According to the company, the singer left Korea to audition for an American drama without informing anyone. Her sudden departure and lawsuit will reportedly cause severe repercussions on the musicalAll Shook Up which Megan is supposed to participate in.

RELATED: 
ZE:A’s leader to go on indefinite hiatus

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