Bullying might just be the dark side of K-pop stardom amid the trainee system and the hierarchy that takes place within a group and in recent months, the number of accusations has risen to alarming heights yet some cases have yet to be proven true.
Actor Jo Byung Gyu might be the most controversial of late after a netizen, allegedly, claimed to being his victim. His account appeared on the message board, Kakaotalk, but it was immediately debunked by HB Entertainment, Jo's agency.
The accuser, reportedly, deleted his claims online after the police got involved. HB entertainment said that they will not hesitate to file legal action against those who maliciously spread false information about their talent.
But a few days later, another netizen posted claims of bullying against Jo on Instagram, who said that the young star was verbally abusive. HB Entertainment has yet to respond to this accusation but Jo did in an Instagram post and acknowledged knowing the person from New Zealand, where they studied English. However, he denied that he had an encounter with him.
On the same week Jo had been besieged with accusations, SEVENTEEN's Mingyu was also rumored to be a bully in high school and, allegedly, took a classmate's money. Pledis Entertainment issued a statement refuting the claim. A spokesperson for the company said that the "proof" didn't align with Mingyu's time in the said high school.
Hyunjin of Stray Kids was also the subject of an anonymous post, which stated that the young star belittled and insulted his classmates and did "sexually harassing things." The accuser said that it was as if he was deliberately asking for a fight so he could hit people.
But a former classmate defended Hyunjin and said that he's not the violent type. In fact, his classmates trusted him so much he was voted the president during their Year 8 class. JYP Entertainment said they will go to court with the accuser.
It's not just the boys who have been accused of bullying as ((G)I-DLE) member Soojin is also embroiled in the same controversy. The accuser had a sister whom the star, allegedly, slapped at the school's bathroom. Soojin also, allegedly, enjoyed mocking the loner and the outcasts and stole money and her classmates' uniforms.
Her agency, CUBE Entertainment, countered the accusation by saying that Soojin did know the sister and had argued with over the phone once. However, the agency denied the rest of the accusations. In a separate statement, Soojin said that she was aware of the talks and rumors about her alleged bullying but she denied all of the allegations.
Kim Sohye, formerly of I.O.I, was said to have grabbed another girl by the hair and hit her face. There were a lot of witnesses hence it's all over the message boards in South Korea. But S&P Entertainment said that Kim has not been involved in an incident despite claims of "witnesses." The agency reported the matter to the police.
According to the experts, bullying claims give K-pop stars media mileage in a highly competitive global industry but the backlash may cause significant harm to the talents.