From secret marriages and concert disasters to idol departures and dating scandals, 2015 had it all. Many groups lost members, some old group members returned, and some celebrities forever changed their public image. For better or for worse, let’s take a look at the top 10 K-pop scandals of 2015.
Girl’s Day were well on their way to joining the top tier of girl groups when they suddenly became the target of controversy due to their alleged “rude” actions during the online broadcast show “Koon TV.” The girls were accused of being impolite and unenthusiastic when responding to the host’s interview questions.
The most circulated scene was the “dumpling incident,” where Sojin repeatedly put a packet of dumplings on the floor while Koon, the host, kept putting them back on the table.
Some netizens accused Sojin of being rude while others came to her defense, saying that the bit was scripted. Koon later explained that he thought the improvised interaction would be amusing and that he and Girl’s Day had a lot of fun.
2014 was filled with idols leaving SM Entertainment groups, and 2015 was no different. Sulli first took a break from f(x) in July 2014 to cope with malicious commenters online. In 2015, she finally announced that she would be departing from the group, stating her desire to focus on her acting.
Unlike the messy departure of Tao from EXO, SM Entertainment stated that they fully supported Sulli in all of her future activities. With her departure from f(x), Sulli became the 4th SM idol in the past two years to leave their group, followed by Tao shortly afterward.
F(x) wasn’t the only SM group to suffer the loss of a member. Following the departure of Kris and Luhan from EXO, fellow Chinese member Tao sued SM to nullify his contract.
Tao had suffered a series of injuries to his leg, ankle, and foot that SM had seemingly failed to treat properly. In response, Tao’s father posted a letter online in which he said he had to bring Tao to China for treatment.
On August 24, Tao officially filed a lawsuit to end his exclusive contract with SM, using the same legal team as former members Kris and Luhan.
Dating is a relatively common occurrence in the K-pop world, but marriages are nearly unheard of. On December 4, Eli of U-KISS revealed through a lengthy Instagram post that he had secretly gotten married over a year ago and that his wife was currently pregnant.
The response to Eli’s confession was mixed, with some fans supporting him and others feeling betrayed. Despite utmost support from his fellow U-KISS members, including Soohyun and Kevin, Eli ended up deleting all of his social media accounts a week later.
How would you feel if your favorite K-pop group came to perform in your city? Ecstatic? That’s exactly how BTS fans felt when they heard that the group would be heading to America for a US tour.
Unfortunately, the poorly organized concert tour left many fans disappointed. The numerous screwups included oversold tickets, fans being locked out of the venue and left to stand in the rain, refunds not being delivered, concert organizer staff being rude to fans, and the fan meeting being cut short.
The group’s earlier stop in New York City for their “Red Bullet Tour” also did not go as smoothly as planned, the group having to cancel their “Hi-touch” event due to death threats made against Rap Monster on Twitter.
Ever since her drug scandal and subsequent hiatus from the music industry in 2014, Koreans have had a negative view of Park Bom. So when she suddenly rose up from beneath the stage at the awards ceremony alongside 2NE1, Korean netizens expressed shock at how she could return so quickly.
In January, Clara filed a lawsuit to nullify her exclusive contract with Polaris Entertainment, accusing the CEO of sexual harassment. This became one of the most lengthy and divisive scandals of the year, with public opinion constantly changing from supporting Clara to supporting the CEO.
After Clara filed her lawsuit, the CEO accused Clara of blackmailing him. The two entered a long battle — both courtroom and media — that stretched well into the latter half of the year, including “leaked” text messages, claims of a phone allegedly dropped in water, additional accusations of blackmail, and more.
Throughout the case, many netizens attacked Clara’s character by criticizing her for not attending the funeral of Ladies’ Code’s Rise and EunB, having plastic surgery, and even lying about her age. In the end, Clara ended up being proven innocent of her blackmail charges in July, and later in September, reached a settlement with Polaris regarding the termination of her contract.
The B1A4 fan meeting in January was the first major scandal of 2015. During a fan meeting in Malaysia, five attendees were invited onstage to reenact scenes from dramas with each of the B1A4 members. Although the girls looked overjoyed to be onstage with their favorite idols, the public criticized them for not acting in accordance with their religious beliefs by hugging the B1A4 members.
After the controversy occurred, the Malaysian authorities banned the concert organizer — TGM — from holding any more events in the country and even threatened the girls with arrest if they didn’t come in to explain themselves, although, in the end, no such action was taken.
Back in March, while filming a variety show, Lee Tae Im was reported to have cursed and yelled at Yewon for speaking informally to her. However, Yewon’s agency initially denied that she spoke informally, causing the media to largely blame Lee Tae Im, saying she overreacted. Lee Tae Im even released an apology for her sudden outburst of anger and began “reflecting” on her actions. Everyone was on Yewon’s side and the controversy had nearly died down when a video of the incident was leaked online.
The video showed that Yewon did indeed speak informally to Lee Tae Im. Public opinion completely turned against Yewon, even calling for her removal from “We Got Married.” Although Yewon still hasn’t recovered from the scandal, the line “Unni, you don’t like me, do you?” has become somewhat of a meme in Korea, already having been parodied twice on “SNL Korea,” once featuring Lee Tae Im herself.
IU broke headlines in 2015 with not just one, but three different scandals all in a short time frame, earning her one of the top spots on this list.
First, she was revealed to be dating singer-songwriter Jang Ki Ha. Less than a month later, netizens began criticizing her “CHAT-SHIRE” album for containing supposed pedophilic themes due to the lyrics of “Zeze,” the album cover art, and the imagery used in her “Twenty-three” music video. To add fuel to the fire, netizens also accused IU of plagiarizing Britney Spears with “Twenty-three,” burying IU in a slew of controversies.
Later, the publishing company that had raised the concern over Zeze apologized. It was also revealed that IU’s original album cover drawing was much different than the final product, and the whole Zeze controversy was started by a reporter misquoting the singer in an interview.
Kim Hyun Joong’s name has been synonymous with “scandal” ever since he was accused of assaulting his ex-girlfriend in 2014. This year, the singer-actor was embroiled in another controversy: the pregnancy of his ex-girlfriend.
Kim Hyun Joong initially stated that he would take responsibility once the pregnancy was confirmed, but various issues and disputes ensued, leading to lawsuits and countersuits, claims of miscarriage, alleged false accusations on both sides, etc.
In the latest development, both Kim Hyun Joong and his former girlfriend met at a medical center in Seoul to take a test to determine if Kim Hyun Joong is the father of his ex-girlfriend’s child. The results, which were released December 21, indicate that Kim Hyun Joong is indeed the father of the child.
This was followed shortly afterward with the ex-girlfriend’s assertion that she became pregnant five times during their two-year relationship.
In your opinion, what was the biggest scandal of 2015?
kafox is a K-pop addict and avid viewer and subtitler of Korean dramas on Viki.