It’s that time of the year again, when everyone starts looking back at the past year and compiles their own “Best of the year” lists. Soompi also brings you its own “Year-in-Review” in eight different categories starting from today. The first topic of this eight-part series is the “Most Shocking Scandals of 2011.”
From SNSD’s Taeyeon getting pulled off stage by a stranger to Seo Taiji’s divorce lawsuit with Lee Ji Ah, 2011 saw some of the craziest events take place in K-Pop’s history. It was almost impossible to trim down the list to only seven top scandals, but we went with the ones that were most controversial/popular among our Soompi readers. Please let us know if we missed anything!
The couple from the super popular SBS drama “City Hunter” became lovers in reality. Shortly after the end of “City Hunter,” where Park Min Young and Lee Min Ho starred as a couple, the two were spotted together through paparazzi photos. It was later confirmed by both parties that their on-screen relationship had developed into real-life romance.
As much as the fans loved the couple on “City Hunter,” they were shocked to see their favorite TV couple actually fall in love off-screen. But it looks like their relationship has been solid so far, and we haven’t heard any gossip or negative press from Korean media. We hope they continue to keep their relationship for a long time!
Lee Min Ho and Park Min Young were one of the many celebrity couples that admitted their relationship this year. Kara’s Goo Hara and BEAST’s Yong Joon Hyung created similar shockwaves among K-Pop fandom when they admitted their relationship in June. Just last month, Lee Hyori and Lee Sang Soon also revealed their relationship, while Wonder Girls’ Sunye confessed that she’s been dating someone in the U.S. for a while now. Could this (going public with their relationship) become a trend among K-Pop celebrities?
2) Daesung’s Car Accident
It feels like we’ve covered this news almost too much now, and we feel terrible bringing this up again. But there’s no denying that Daesung’s car accident was one of the most shocking and heart-breaking news all year.
On May 31, around 1:30AM, Daesung accidently ran over a motorcyclist that was severely injured from a prior crash. The motorcyclist was later pronounced dead but it was unclear if Daesung was the main reason for his death. After months of investigation, police finally concluded that there was no sufficient evidence to prove the victim was alive at the time of Daesung’s contact, and thus, Daesung was dismissed of charges over the victim’s death. Nonetheless, Daesung apologized to the victim’s family and agreed to pay for all funeral costs.
After months of living in seclusion, Daesung finally made his much-anticipated comeback at the “YG Family 15th Anniversary Concert” on December 3. His first TV drama series, “What’s Up,” which was all filmed prior to the car accident, also started airing earlier this month. Although we haven’t seen Daesung on music or variety shows yet, it seems like his return is only a matter of time.
3) Stranger Grabs SNSD’s Taeyeon Off-Stage
On April 17, Taeyeon was pulled off-stage by an unidentified man at the Angel Price Music Festival. During SNSD’s performance of “Run Devil Run,” an unknown man emerged from backstage and suddenly grabbed Taeyeon by her arms to drag her off-stage. No security guards or staff members were present to stop the man, however, the show’s host and SNSD’s Sunny promptly came to the rescue and blocked the man from running away.
It was later revealed that the man was just a regular college student from the crowd – bringing light to the show’s weak safety measures. In fact, this was not the first time that a stranger had jumped up on stage at a K-Pop concert. It’s already happened several times, and yet, it seems like there’s no real improvement to the situation, leaving many wonder how much more similar, if not worse, incidents are needed for people to realize the gravity of this issue.
4) GD Unknowingly Smokes a Joint
In early October, Big Bang’s G-Dragon was found positive of smoking marijuana. According to the hair drug test conducted by the prosecutor’s office, G-Dragon smoked a small amount of pot (without knowing what it was) and was put under “the suspension of indictment” for the suspicion of smoking marijuana. YG Entertainment later released a statement basically telling G-Dragon unknowingly took two puffs of a joint that he thought at the time was a cigarette. The incident happened during his visit in Japan, and since he smoked it without any knowledge of what it was, he only received a light warning (suspension of indictment). The statement read:
“G-Dragon probably forgot that incident because he did not consider it significant. However, when he was trying to find the reason for why his test came out positive, his memory came back, and confessed to the prosecutor’s office during the investigation.
The prosecutor’s office decided not to indict G-Dragon for two reasons. The first reason was because his test result was a weak positive, and the second was that G-Dragon had not deliberately smoked marijuana.
Although, there weren’t any other legal penalties for this incident, we believe that the guilt and responsibility that G-Dragon and YG Entertainment has to bear is heavier than any legal penalty.
G-Dragon and YG Entertainment feels sincere remorse because we were not more careful. Once again, we apologize to you all for this incident and we will try our best so that something like this does not happen ever again.”
After a brief one-month hiatus, G-Dragon made his first public appearance at the “MTV Europe Music Awards” in England to receive the “2011 Worldwide Act – Asia Pacific.” He also gave his first live performance at the “YG Family 15th Anniversary Concert” earlier this month. But his early return has sparked some online debate over the timing of his comeback. Compared to other artists involved in past drug scandals, G-Dragon’s two-month “remorse period” was considered a bit too short by some netizens, as they questioned his sincerity in regretting his action. Whatever the case is, it’s great to see all five Big Bang members finally back together!
5) Seo Taiji’s Secret Marriage with Lee Ji Ah
Perhaps, the most shocking news in 2011 was created by none other than the “Culture President,” Seo Taiji. The legendary singer, who is largely credited for creating the foundation for modern day K-Pop, brought shockwaves throughout the industry in April with his divorce lawsuit with actress Lee Ji Ah. They were found to have gotten married in 1997, when Lee Ji Ah was only 16, and managed to keep their relationship hidden for over 14 years. The divorce lawsuit was finally settled in July without any financial deals involved, and Lee Ji Ah made a successful comeback through MBC drama “Me Too, Flower,” recently.
The entire debacle happened so quickly that it feels like we almost forgot about it before even learning about the whole issue. Seo Taiji is best-known for his private lifestyle, rarely ever going public with any of his personal life. Lee Ji Ah, likewise, has a very mysterious profile, having three different names, never revealing any past photos, and owning exceptional language and musical skills – which even earned her the nickname, “Alien.” The news has garnered more attention for involving two of the most mysterious people in the industry, and it feels like we still don’t know much about this scandal, considering the level of publicity it generated. But the person who really got hurt from this whole scandal is Jung Woo Sung. He openly dated Lee Ji Ah for three months before parting ways in May after the her past marriage was made public. The weird thing is that no one seems to know what exactly happened here, and the public attention seems to have waned relatively quickly, although it involved a love triangle with two of the biggest 90’s stars in Seo Taiji and Jung Woo Sung.
6) Han Ye Seul Boycotts “Spy Myungwol”
In August, Han Ye Seul abruptly left the production crew of KBS drama “Spy Myungwol,” in an apparent move to protest the poor working conditions in Korea. In a span of three days, she left for Los Angeles, only to return to Korea again after hearing mounting criticism regarding her unexplained actions. She addressed the press immediately after returning to Korea and said she boycotted further filming of “Spy Myungwol” because she wanted “the people in Korea to understand the poor working conditions.” She apologized for her selfish act, but did give something to think about, as she said, “I do hope the people in the industry would take this chance to look back at themselves.”
Although some netizens initially questioned the exact meaning of “poor working conditions,” when she was getting paid nearly $30,000 USD per episode, a number of celebrities and officials later voiced their support for Han Ye Seul. Yang Dong Geun called her “naïve,” and accused the broadcasters and producers of working in violation of Korea’s labor law. The Korean Actors Association also issued a statement saying, “We must blame the broadcaster and producer for pressuring killer filming schedules.”
Of course, we will never know the exact motive behind Han Ye Seul’s boycott. Some still argue it was just a publicity stunt taken to revive “Spy Myungwol’s” atrocious TV ratings. However, the fact that Han Ye Seul and “Spy Myungwol” did not get nominated in any of the KBS year-end award shows perhaps tells something about the whole situation.
7) Japanese Anti-Hallyu Wave
In July, Japanese actor Sousuke Takaoka’s anti-Hallyu comments sparked a huge controversy that fueled an anti-Korean Wave movement in Japan. On July 23, Takaoka wrote on his Twitter account, “I don’t really watch channel 8 (Fuji TV) anymore. It sometimes makes me wonder if it’s rather a Korean channel. Japanese people want traditional Japanese programs” Later he added, “It feels like Korean programs brainwash you, and it really makes me feel bad. Broadcasters need to realize its negative effect,” which later resulted in him losing his contract with his management agency.
After this news spread online, the “closet anti-Hallyu” Japanese fans came out in public and held protests at the Fuji TV headquarters. Fuji TV is known for showing lots of Korean TV programs, and some accuse them of having a pro-Korean voice. The Japanese protestors claimed it’s not the Korean content or pop culture they’re against – it’s the Fuji TV’s biased broadcasting style. However, this whole movement caught fire and later grew into other forms of protests, as some Japanese fans even attacked Kim Tae Hee’s appearance on Fuji TV drama, “99 Days with a Star.”
The whole anti-Hallyu movement caused more controversy when it took a turn and started accusing 2NE1 of being anti-Japanese. Their argument? 2NE1’s “Hate You” music video, which is made in animation, allegedly depicted Japan in a negative way. The exploding nuclear reactor is supposed to mean the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant that was made inactive after the tsunami attacks in March, and the red dot on the giant evil monster is to portray the Japanese flag. The accusations seemed to stem from a Korean fan’s poster during a soccer match between Korean and Japanese professional teams that said, “We celebrate the earthquake in eastern Japan.” The poster is indeed despicable, but to accuse Korean celebrities anti-Japan on the basis of that seems to be a bit of a reach. K-Pop is a form of art and it should work as a channel to improve the two countries’ relationship—and that’s exactly what all these K-Pop artists are trying to promote through their activities in Japan. Stop the hate, just appreciate!
So, what scandal did you find most shocking or sensational? What was your favorite scandal of the year? Let us know your thoughts!