HYBE Apologizes Following Allegations Of Sexual Harassment During Underwear Search At Fan Signing Event
HYBE has issued a formal apology following allegations of sexual harassment by security guards during an underwear search at an &TEAM fan signing event.
On July 8, HYBE LABELS JAPAN’s boy group &TEAM held an in-person fan signing event in Seoul. Afterwards, many fans took to social media and online communities to complain about an allegedly invasive security check at the event, leading the hashtag “#underwearsearch” to trend in South Korea.
According to those who attended the event, &TEAM’s staff touched fans’ breasts and checked their underwear for hidden electronic devices such as Apple Watches, and some fans claimed that they had experienced sexual harassment in the process.
One wrote, “They touched us to check for Apple Watches or electronic devices in case we’d record [the event], but it wasn’t at the level of just skimming; instead, they touched us here and there and poked us, and it was sexual molestation.”
Another recalled, “They said they’d touch my breasts, and then after touching them, they asked, ‘This is a watch, right?’ and took me to a small space where they asked me to lift my clothing. They pressed me so aggressively that I had no choice but to lift my clothing, but then someone else opened the door, walked in, and watched my underwear being searched. I felt so ashamed, and it felt like my human rights had hit the floor.”
Yet another fan wrote, “They pressed hard on my upper breasts and also pressed hard on my lower breasts, and it was nearly to the point of a sexual caress, so I told them, ‘Those are my breasts.'” The fan also complained that even though they did not find anything after taking her to a different room and searching her underwear, they did not apologize and brusquely asked her to leave the room.
As controversy continued to grow over fan accounts of the event, HYBE released an apology for the incident through its e-commerce site Weverse Shop on July 9.
The full statement is as follows:
Hello, this is Weverse Shop.
We would like to apologize to the fans who attended &TEAM’s in-person fan signing event on July 8 regarding the security body check that was carried out by female security guards.
Fan signing events are a place where artists and fans talk one-on-one, and if recordings are leaked to the public, it might not be good for the fan and the artist. So to prevent such a situation from arising, we have always strictly limited [fans from] bringing in electronic equipment that makes recording possible. Up until now, many fans have actively cooperated with this practice.
However, because there have been several instances of [fans] hiding electronic equipment on their bodies to bring them in, a body check was carried out on July 8 by female security guards to check for this. We apologize to the fans who attended the event with happy hearts for making you uncomfortable.
Even if it was a security issue, we are aware that it is not an acceptable excuse for making fans uncomfortable. We sincerely apologize that this kind of incident happened at the event.
We will make plans for improvements, such as introducing contact-free methods for security checks, and we will try to make it possible for fans to participate in fan signing events with artists in a more comfortable and happy environment.