Girl group T-ara recently met with the press to talk about their 8th mini-album, “Again,” and how the controversial departure of ex-member Hwayoung had changed everything.
On deciding to make their comeback in spite of all the hate and controversy, the girls said, “It pains our hearts the most when we know that we won’t be able to receive applause from the audience when we’re standing on stage. But we want to stand on stage anyway. What can we do so that we can show a better side of ourselves again? It would be great if we knew the answer to that question, but we feel like we don’t know where to start. Even our ‘tiger’ CEO (Kim Kwang Soo) lost all of his confidence. He told us that we have to bring merit back to our group and to work hard while not pushing ourselves too hard. He told us we should continue this together…”
T-ara also talked about how their relationship with their fans had also changed. Hyomin said, “We were wrong to let our fans, who have always loved us, to bear such disappointment in us. There’s nothing we can do now to change that fact. No matter what we do, it’s not like we can undo the past. We continue to reflect on how our behavior back then was immature and childish. Our first priority right now is to keep working hard.”
Eunjung added, “Back then, we weren’t able to, but we wanted to tell everyone what was in our hearts as soon as possible. We often wonder if that’s why the public reacted more strongly to the issue. We should have shown the public a better image of ourselves through our actions, not just with words.”
T-ara was at the height of their popularity before the Hwayoung bullying incident drastically affected their image as a group. Eunjung shared, “In the past, I took popularity for granted. I don’t think that anymore. To have been a runner-up for first, even for us was higher than any ranking we imagined was possible. Even if we were in 10th place, we would be happy.”
The girls also shared their feelings about watching their CEO struggle with the aftermath of his sudden and insufficiently supported decision to remove Hwayoung from the group. Soyeon said, “Our CEO has always been overflowing with confidence, and we have always followed his instructions. The results on anything we did was always good. But now, our CEO is more careful than we are on everything, and he seems more nervous. While staying up through the night to work, he didn’t seem so confident anymore. It was the first time we had seen that side of him, and it pained us.”
Eunjung also opened up about how their interactions with other celebrities had also changed saying, “We have always been good friends with groups like Girls’ Generation and KARA, but because of all the bad news we were surrounded by, we find it difficult to approach them for the fear that they might try to avoid us. Instead of being able to act as we normally would and according to how we truly feel, we act more reserved. As human beings, things like that can really hurt.”
Soyeon also shared what it was like for T-ara to watch other girl groups grow their fan bases while the members of T-ara were on their hiatus. “Girls’ Generation, SISTAR, and Girl’s Day were able to make such big strides and frankly, we did feel envious. Other girl groups are always trying out new things. To start all over again, we feel like we should play it safe. We don’t feel it’s the right time for us to try out new things yet. T-ara has always received love in the past for their friendly girl-next-door image. We believe that there are fans out there waiting for the T-ara image they have been familiar with.”
The girls also addressed the rumors that they were going to disband. “That rumor has always followed us. I think it still floats around because people are interested in us. We know that we obtain the best results when all of us are together as one group,” said Eunjung.
The girls have since posted a handwritten letter to the public apologizing for the controversial issue involving ex-member Hwayoung, who was the supposed victim of their bullying. T-ara’s agency, Core Contents Media has also filed civil and criminal lawsuits against media outlets that published “speculative articles” about T-ara’s controversy. Hwayoung also recently updated her fans with her status and sincerely wished the best for T-ara. She has expressed an interest in acting, despite all the love calls from different agencies and is currently studying at Kyunghee University as a theater major.
Edited to reflect that Hwayoung was the “supposed” bullying victim and that there no confirmation of the bullying rumors made by either party.