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5 big K-pop scandals: From school bullying to Blackpink Jennie and Hyuna's dating row

From BIGBANG Seungri's Burning Sun case to ex-EXO star Kris Wu's rape charges, here are the biggest scandals that rocked the K-pop industry
UPDATED JAN 10, 2022
Scandals surrounding Dawn and Hyuna, Blackpink's Jennie, (G)I-DLE's Soojin, and BIGBANG's Seungri shook the K-pop industry (@hyunah_aa, @jennierubyjane, @official_g_i_dle, @seungriseyo/Instagram)
Scandals surrounding Dawn and Hyuna, Blackpink's Jennie, (G)I-DLE's Soojin, and BIGBANG's Seungri shook the K-pop industry (@hyunah_aa, @jennierubyjane, @official_g_i_dle, @seungriseyo/Instagram)

Trigger warning: Suicide, rape

With former DAY6 member Jae Park coming under fire for his misogynist slur towards longtime friend Jamie, fans are getting a reality check when it comes to their favorite K-pop idols. The NCT fandom is torn over Lucas’ dating scandal where his alleged ex-girlfriends have claimed that he gaslit them, used them, and cheated on them. Red Velvet’s Irene, however, bounced back despite admitting to the rumors that she had bullied her stylist. But K-pop scandals also more often than not involve systematic targeting by trolls, right from the 2021 school bullying to Blackpink's Jennie and Hyuna’s dating row.

We have had some extremely serious cyberbullying cases that led to the suicide of f(x)’s Sulli to trolls targetting Kwon Mina after she claimed that her former group AOA’s leader Shin Jimin had bullied her. Some rumors were blown out of proportion when netizens believed an informant’s claims of former iKON leader B.I and Monsta X member Wonho’s alleged drug use, which led to them leaving their groups and being subjects of an investigation. While they were cleared, many of these celebrities’ reputations have been marred due to these scandals.

AOA's Jimin posts original song on birthday, a year and half after 'retiring'

Ex-DAY6 star Jae Park slammed for 'weak' apology after calling Jamie a th*t


Hyuna and Dawn fired for dating

One of the most bittersweet reactions to dating news happens to be the one involving Hyuna and Dawn. Hyuna was part of the iconic girl group 4Minute, while Dawn was in Pentagon. Both were labelmates under Cube Entertainment and secretly started dating each other in 2016. While Dawn wanted to make things public immediately, the couple revealed their relationship in 2018. Unfortunately, they were both fired from their agency. Cube shared that the couple had betrayed their trust but received backlash from fans for their harsh decision. The couple was then signed by PSY's label P Nation.


Blackpink's Jennie’s ‘lazy’ scandal and dating EXO’s Kai

Where there is fame, there will often be haters. With Blackpink being one of the biggest K-pop groups in the world, there are bound to be several controversies and scandals surrounding them. But one that even had the fandom torn was Jennie’s ‘lazy’ performances in 2018. While she had an injured ankle back then, many pointed out her lack of energy on other stages like the infamous Coachella performance in 2019. 

At the same time, she got massive hate for dating EXO’s Kai as obsessed fans have often tried to stop their favorite idols from dating. It got worse when her label YG tried to deny it by calling Kai her Uber driver. Jennie was constantly mocked, while some fans ordered Kai to dump her. They ended up breaking things off but not before it turned into a scandal, with trolls criticizing Jennie’s every move. She came once again under scrutiny for allegedly dating BIGBANG's G-Dragon in 2021.


Seungri’s Burning Sun scandal

The Burning Sun scandal was probably one of the biggest criminal cases in recent K-pop history. It involved K-pop superstar Seungri of BIGBANG fame who was investigated for fraud and prostitution at his club named Burning Sun in 2019. In 2021, the military court found him guilty on nine charges like embezzlement, illegal gambling, and enabling prostitution for his clients. While Seungri only accepted the violation of the Foreign Exchange Transactions Act, he has been sentenced to three years in prison.


School bullying claims in 2021

In early 2021, popular K-pop idols were involved in a systematic attack by trolls and antis. Many accusers claimed that they had been bullied in school by K-pop idols. School bullying in South Korea is extremely violent and so the general public immediately turned their backs on their favorite artists. Many were put on hiatus by their agencies while they collected evidence that the rumors were fake.

The idols involved were Everglow’s Aisha, APRIL’s Naeun, Apink’s Chorong, Stray Kids’ Hyunjin, Seventeen’s Mingyu, GOT7’s Youngjae, Monsta X’s Kihyun, Itzy’s Lia, former (G)I-DLE member Soojin, Hyuna, Loona’s Chuu and The Boyz’s Sunwoo among others. All of the cases turned out to be false but unfortunately (G)I-DLE’s Soojin suffered the most as she was made to leave her group.


Kris Wu’s rape case

With fans almost bordering on worshipping their idols, many artists with predatory potential tend to take advantage. One of them happens to be Kris Wu. In 2021, the former EXO member was accused of allegedly raping 30 girls, of which many were underaged. The alleged victims that spoke up shared that they were lured under the pretense of a party or a promise that Kris Wu would further their careers. He has now been arrested by the Beijing police on suspicion of rape and is being investigated as a criminal suspect.

Along with such huge cases, there have also been frequent small scandals due to the illusion that agencies have created for their K-pop idols that don’t allow fans to see them as real and flawed human beings. We have many artists constantly being ignorantly insensitive, racist, or culturally appropriating since they know that their fans will always back them up. But on the other hand, we have a majority of K-pop fans jumping on the bandwagon and hating an artist on suspicions that later turn out to be untrue as in the case of NCT’s Jungwoo, T-ara, and NU’EST’s Baekho.