K-pop Scandals

When I say that I’ve been a long-time K-pop fan, I mean it. I saw the debut of Wonder Girls, witnessed Super Junior’s “Sorry Sorry” go global, and even became a fan of Coed School, one of the first few co-ed K-pop groups. With that being said, I was also part of the kaypoh netizens who wanted to know all the details whenever an ugly scandal broke out. And trust me, there were so many. 

Below are some of the biggest K-pop scandals that have shocked fans over the years.  

1. IU & Super Junior’s Eun Hyuk dating rumours

Source, source

I was a baby ELF aka Super Junior’s fandom, when I saw the news that IU uploaded and almost immediately deleted a photo of herself and Super Junior’s Eunhyuk in 2012. While most people might think that there was nothing wrong with sharing a photo of your colleague, the sus part was that both of them were lying down on bed in their pyjamas. 

Well, surprise or not, IU received most of the backlash, and extreme fans even burned her CDs, despite IU’s explanation that Eunhyuk was there to visit her since she was sick. Eventually, the dating rumours surrounding the two artistes subsided. 

2. T-ARA’s career almost “ruined” by former member


Among famous K-pop girl groups such as Girls’ Generation and KARA, T-ARA was an iconic group whose career peaked with catchy tunes like “Bo Peep Bo Peep” and “Roly Poly”. Riding on the growing popularity of the group, their agency introduced a new member into the group Hwa Young, who later departed after two years. 

Fans were naturally confused, and soon enough, people began to accuse the original members of T-ARA with alleged “evidence” of them bullying Hwa Young. Their popularity went downhill, and it was as if the entire K-pop community had started a witch hunt against them. Yes, it was that bad. 

However, a former staff member who had worked with T-ARA stepped up and defended the girls, stating that none of the bullying accusations were true. It turned out there were concrete evidence that Hwa Young was the problematic member who lied about being sick, and had caused troubles within the group. 

With the truth out in the open, fans who had turned their back on T-ARA were apologetic, and many began to realise how manipulative Hwa Young had been.

3. AOA’s bullying incident

K-pop ScandalsAOA’s Jimin

Another bullying scandal that shook the K-pop community involved K-pop girl group AOA in 2019. Considering how AOA was also at the peak of their career when the controversy broke out, netizens were quick to point fingers. 

After AOA’s Mina revealed that she had tried to take her own life because of bullying by her leader Jimin, many people began to side with Mina. However, through a series of back-and-forth accusations between Mina and Jimin, Korean media Dispatch later revealed that Mina had actually been the one who made up the stories, and Jimin was the victim behind the whole saga. 

4. BIGBANG’s G-Dragon caught smoking weed 


Whether you’re a casual or hardcore K-pop fan, you’ll know who BIGBANG’s G-Dragon is. But, not everyone knows that he was caught smoking weed back in 2011. 

Although the idol claimed that he unknowingly smoked weed, mistaking it for a normal cigarette, it didn’t change the fact that he had consumed the drug. He expressed deep regret for his actions, and eventually addressed the issue publicly during a variety show appearance, where he shared further details about the incident. 

Most recently in October 2023, G-Dragon became embroiled in another drug scandal where he was booked by the police on suspicion of drug use. As investigations are still ongoing, there has yet to be a conclusive statement. 

5. BIGBANG’s Daesung car accident 

K-pop ScandalsSource

In May 2011, BIGBANG’s Daesung found himself making headlines for the wrong reason ‒ he accidentally ran over a motorist, and later crashed into a taxi. While it was reported that the victim was already injured and lying on the road from a previous accident, authorities found it difficult to determine if Daesung’s accident had contributed to the motorist’s death. 

However, investigations did show that Daesung had hit the victim due to negligent driving, but he was acquitted of causing the motorist’s death. Because of this incident, Daesung went on a hiatus before making a return to the K-pop industry in March 2012 with the rest of the BIGBANG members.  

6. JYJ’s Park Yoo Chun alleged rape accusations & drug usage

K-pop ScandalsSource

Well, if you thought JYJ’s Park Yoo Chun’s rape allegations in 2016 and 2017 were the end of his controversies, he became embroiled in another one that involved drugs in 2019. 

For the former incident, four women filed separate police reports for rape, and it was reported that he had sexually assaulted them in toilets on different occasions. Despite the court ruling him as innocent, his image was severely tarnished. 

Later in 2019, Park Yoo Chun was arrested on suspicion of purchasing and using drugs. Reports also stated that he was suspected of attempting to destroy evidence by colouring and shaving his hair before undergoing a drug test. 

Although he initially denied the accusations, the artiste eventually admitted to his crimes and was sentenced to 10 months in jail, with a 2-year suspension and a hefty fine.  

7. SS501’s Kim Hyun Joong physically abusing ex-girlfriend

K-pop ScandalsSource

SS501’s Kim Hyun Joong is a familiar name to K-pop and K-drama lovers, especially if you’ve watched Boys Over Flowers. He played the role of Yoon Ji Hoo, and fans loved his sweet and innocent image. However, his gentle and caring reputation shattered when he was accused of abusing his ex-girlfriend, whom he had dated for more than a year in 2014. 

His ex-girlfriend claimed that Kim Hyun Joong physically abused her, and was left with bruises and broken ribs that required six weeks of medical treatment. 

In an attempt to maintain confidentiality on the issue, Kim Hyun Joong admitted to physically assaulting his ex-girlfriend, offered to pay her a settlement fee, and issued an official apology letter. He was also fined KRW$5,000,000 (~S$5,070) for assault charges.

After the incident, Kim Hyun Joong resumed his career as a celebrity, and has since then appeared in K-dramas, and released various albums. In 2022, Kim Hyun Joong married his non-celebrity girlfriend, and is currently on a world tour. 

8. Kris Wu’s rape and group sex charges


Kris Wu, a former member of K-pop boy group EXO, who is better known as a Chinese-Canadian solo artist and actor in China, was charged with raping three intoxicated women and engaging in group sex in 2021. 

The truth about his sexual misconduct came to light when a Chinese influencer exposed his past via social media, 2 years after she was sexually assaulted. She recounted how she had been scammed into thinking that she was meeting Kris Wu for a work opportunity in a hotel room, and was forced to drink alcohol before completely losing consciousness. 

Using similar tactics and under the pretence of holding a “private” fanmeeting, Kris Wu also tricked multiple underage girls before raping them. The influencer also mentioned that Kris Wu’s agency later paid her hush money, which amounted to RMB500,000 (~S$94,645). 

Thanks to her expose, many girls also spoke up about their horrific encounters with Kris Wu, and the whole saga received global attention.      

Kris Wu is now serving prison time for a total of 13 years 4 months, and will be deported from China once he has completed his sentence. 

Also read: 

17 Korean Celeb Couples That Will Make You Believe In Love Again Including IU & Lee Jong Suk

9. G.NA prostitution scandal


Being a celebrity has its pros and cons ‒ one wrong move, and your career can flop instantly. 

G.NA was a very popular solo artiste in Korea until she was revealed as a celebrity who had been arrested for suspected prostitution activity in 2016. Many media outlets reported that she had been paid a huge sum of money to go on a date, including sexual favours, with a businessman. But she denied the accusations, highlighting that she had no idea that her friend who set up the meeting was a broker for high-end prostitution. 

However, G.NA was eventually charged with prostitution charges and has since been on an indefinite hiatus. 

10. BIGBANG’s Seung Ri’s involvement in the Burning Sun scandal

K-pop ScandalsSource

You don’t have to be deeply ingrained in the K-pop scene to know about the Burning Sun scandal in 2019. It involved numerous Korean celebrities, namely BIGBANG’s Seung Ri, Jung Joon Young, CNBLUE’s Lee Jong Hyun, FTISLAND’s Choi Jong Hoon, and Highlight’s Yong Jun Hyung. 

The allegations included arranging prostitutes for investors, sharing illegal sexual footage, gambling, corruption, tax evasion, and drug distribution in the nightclub Burning Sun. 

Since Seung Ri was a creative director and shareholder in the nightclub, netizens speculated that he was one of the key players involved in the vices. Investigations also showed that he and seven other people were in a group chat, where Seung Ri arranged prostitutes for VIPs of the nightclub.  

As journalists dug deeper into the scandal, they discovered more shocking connections with various high-ranked officers, suggesting that many of them had a role in the aforementioned crimes. 

After a long period of investigation and trials, Seung Ri was sentenced to a 3-year jail term, but he appealed, and his sentence was reduced to 18 months.

Read the full details about the Burning Sun scandal here

11. Ailee’s nudes were leaked


Leaking a person’s nudes in an attempt to extort money is a despicable action, and I hope no one ever has to go through it. Unfortunately, solo artiste Ailee was a victim of a modelling scam, where nude photos of her were taken under the pretence of a fitting session in 2013. 

When she noticed the leak, she consulted her ex-boyfriend who happened to be working in a media company. As an “excuse” to better examine the situation, he requested the nudes from Ailee and allegedly tried to sell them to other Korean media outlets to make money. It was at that point in time when the same media company that he worked for was the first to write an article about Ailee’s leaked nude photos. 

Since all the fingers pointed to Ailee’s ex-boyfriend, the incident resulted in many angry fans and netizens demanding Ailee’s ex-boyfriend and the media company delete the post. 

Thankfully, despite the big hoo-ha, Ailee was able to make a successful comeback as a singer. 

12. GLAM’s Da Hee blackmailing actor Lee Byung Hun

GLAM’s Da Hee changed her name to Kim Si Won

Going through thick and thin with a friend is no doubt admirable, but doing so without much thought may not be the wisest decision. K-pop girl group GLAM’s Da Hee was friends with model Lee Ji Yeon, who allegedly had an affair with actor Lee Byung Hun. Yes, the actor who played the frontman in Squid Game.   

Since they broke up on bad terms, Lee Ji Yeon wanted to get even with the actor and sought the help of Da Hee in 2014. The two girls visited Lee Byung Hun’s house and got him drunk. While Lee Byung Hun was making sexual comments towards Lee Ji Yeon, Da Hee took the opportunity to capture the incident on video. They then tried to blackmail him, demanding KRW$5 billion won (~S$5 million), with the intention of fleeing overseas.  

Of course, Lee Byung Hun did not give in to their request and later reported them to the police. 

The two girls were arrested for blackmailing, and Da Hee and Lee Ji Yeon were sentenced to a year in prison and a year and a few months respectively. 

After serving their sentence, Da Hee reportedly changed her name to Kim Si Won, and is now working as a streamer. 

13. Omega X sexually harassed by their CEO’s wife

K-pop ScandalsSource

2022 was a rough year for members of K-pop boy group Omega X. In a press conference, they revealed shocking accusations of their then-agency’s CEO and his wife, who physically, verbally, and sexually abused the members for almost a year. Yikes. 

They only decided to seek legal help when footage of the CEO’s wife allegedly hitting several members after a concert in Los Angeles circulated among fans. The incident was so severe that even one of the members fainted. 

What’s infuriating is also the fact that the CEO’s wife later tried to deny the allegations, and even gaslighted the members despite sufficient evidence. 

Fortunately, Omega X won the legal battle against their former agency, and they are now signed under a new label, and recently released their third mini album in October 2023. 

14. The East Light physically abused by their CEO

K-pop ScandalsSource

Everyone deserves basic respect, so when The East Light shared in a press conference in 2018 that they had been suffering from physical and verbal abuse from their CEO for 4 years even before debut, fans and netizens were angrily seeking justice for the group. 

According to a member’s recount, a producer was also involved in the abuse, making them get on the floor and hitting them with baseball bats and iron bars. The producer and CEO even took advantage of the members’ young age, threatening them not to tell anyone about the abuse. Plus, they forced them to smoke cigarettes. 

Thankfully, justice was on The East Light’s side, and the producer and CEO were sentenced to 16 months in prison and 8 months in prison respectively. 

15. Unsolved murder of DEUX’s Kim Sung Jae

K-pop ScandalsImage courtesy of SBS

Long before I even became a K-pop fan, one mystery that has always baffled fans is the unsolved murder of DEUX’s Kim Sung Jae. He was a member of the popular K-pop duo DEUX, and a day after his solo debut, the police found him dead in a hotel in 1995. 

The odd part was the fact that the autopsy found traces of animal anaesthetic in his body and 28 needle marks on his right arm. Considering the fact that it was the idol’s dominant arm, many people suspected there was foul play, and the murderer was Kim Sung Jae’s obsessive girlfriend. 

Based on a Reddit thread, his girlfriend was a medical student who had knowledge and a clear understanding of human anatomy. Plus, she came from a rich and powerful family with strong political connections. 

While she was charged with murder for the first and second trials, things drastically changed when she attended the third trial. Witnesses who had previously testified then said that they could no longer remember anything, and the court ended up concluding the case due to a “lack of evidence”. 

As such, she was free to go and reportedly began a new life after changing her name, and undergoing a full-face surgery. 

16. Baek Ji Young’s sex tape


Baek Ji Young was set to become Korea’s hottest female artist when she made her debut in 1999. However, when an explicit sex tape of her and her manager was uploaded onto a pay-per-view pornography site, her career came to an immediate halt. TV and radio stations were cancelling schedules with her, and the amount of criticism she received was unimaginable. 

It turned out that her manager was reportedly the culprit behind the incident. He had wanted to use the video to blackmail Baek Ji Young in case she tried to replace him with someone else when she became famous. 

If you thought that was the end of the shenanigans, there’s more. A tech student later hacked the porn site for the original sex tape and then spread the footage, which multiplied to over 200,000 copies in a day over the internet. Baek Ji Young had no choice and left Korea for Guam to tide things over. 

Being a strong woman herself, Baek Ji Young did not back down and told the press that she would continue as a singer since she had done nothing wrong to deserve the backlash. It took her some time before she made a proper comeback, and when she did, she was welcomed with open arms. 

These K-pop Scandals Show The Dark Side Of The Showbiz Industry

From physical abuse to sexual harassment, these K-pop scandals highlight the numerous risks and scandals that come with pursuing a career in showbiz. While some people are attracted to the glitz and glamour of the industry, they also need to know that not everyone is as nice as they seem to be. 

Cover: Source, source, source

Also read:

Why Females Involved With Media Scandals In Singapore Get The Short End Of The Stick