First off, I’ve never really been into T-ara or any of the girls in that group. I’m just a spectator to this.
It’s really crazy how rumors make everything go out of control! But I guess that’s how it is with every Kpop controversy that pops up.
It all started with T-ara and Twitter.
Hwayoung had hurt her leg on a music program on July 22nd. It was bad enough for her to end up in a wheelchair, therefore, she was unable to dance at their first concert in Japan on July 25th and 26th.
T-ara gave fans a head’s up about Hwayoung’s condition before the concert. During the concert, Hwayoung apparently did what she could… she walked onto the stage with crutches and later, rapped from a chair set up for her.
However, after the July 25th concert, T-ara members sent out some tweets that… sounded less than encouraging towards Hwayoung.
Hyomin, Eunjung, and Jiyeon implied that Hwayoung wasn’t determined enough, or even acting like her condition was worse than it really is.
In response to this, Hwayoung sent a tweet out saying that sometimes determination just isn’t enough and that she felt upset, but would try to stay optimistic. Hwayoung’s twin sister, Hyoyoung from 5dolls, sent an encouraging tweet out to her sister. (Full translations of these tweets can be read here.)
Fans became outraged by these Twitter exchanges.
They felt they said things that shouldn’t be said in public.
The more people spoke out against what had happened, the more others agreed and became upset as well.
Things got even worse when AllKpop made an article telling everybody that Boram had unfollowed Hwayoung’s Twitter, yet a large amount of fans claim that she was never following her in the first place. However, some people didn’t care if she was following in the first place, but focused on the fact that Hwayoung was following Boram… which seemed to imply to them that Boram was ignoring Hwayoung.
People scrambled to collect “evidence” that Hwayoung was being bullied in the past as well. Things like, Eunjung dangerously stuffing her mouth with a rice cake or just ignoring her at events. [source]
As things spiraled out of control, T-ara’s company, Core Contents Media, made it known that they were planning on releasing a major announcement regarding the group on July 30th. Many fans speculated on whether they were disbanding T-ara or just kicking Hwayoung or someone else out of the group.
Some time after that, Hwayoung herself made a series of mysterious tweets… some of them thanking people who have supported her and one of them saying this:
“What does it matter if your face is pretty. It’s your heart that has to be pretty. Is a person who is unwell, not a person? I’m hurting too. I want to seriously cry. I should just practice instead..” [source]
This sounds as if she thinks some people around her are mean people behind their nice looks because they treat her badly for having an injured leg.
After that, things kept getting even worse.
Soon, people were demanding that Eunjung leave the TV programs that she was on, like We Got Married and the drama Five Fingers. They said it was impossible to enjoy the programs with her on them because they now see her as a fake.
Now, Core Contents Media just released their announcement.
They said that they were making Hwayoung leave the group, though they claimed it was because of “staff members” disliking her. They denied any rumors about T-ara bullying Hwayoung:
“We wish to impress upon the fact that this has nothing to do with the ‘bullying’ reports surrounding T-ara,” CCM said. “Although the staff of Core Contents Media stayed up into early morning discussing with the T-ara members who all wanted to stay with Hwayoung, we apologize in saying that we could not forsake the arguments of the staff members.” [source]
This situation definitely spiraled out of control.
It’s obvious that T-ara members, (with maybe the exception of Qri), did not like Hwayoung. Whether it was one-sided or not, it was still the majority of them against one, which isn’t a good thing. Whether it had always been that way, or if it got worse because of too much stress from overworking, is unknown.
I feel that this is something that had been building up for awhile now and that CCM should have fixed this before it got to this point. They should have had Hwayoung leave the group much earlier with some other excuse as other companies have done in the past.
It’s lucky for them that things didn’t escalate to the level of past group S#arp’s famous controversy! (Click the link for info about that!)
Now, as it stands, I’m sure the group has been scarred.
It’s pretty obvious that the company is covering for T-ara by using the staff as an excuse. Yes, maybe she didn’t get along with the hairdressers either, but if that’s the case; if she couldn’t get along with 19 staff members, then I’m pretty positive that T-ara didn’t have a good relationship with her either.
Hwayoung’s newest tweet after CCM’s announcement makes me believe this even more. She simply said “…진실없는 사실들” or, “Facts are not true”. It’s like she’s confirming that the staff really had no problems but that it was actually T-ara like most of us thought.
This means T-ara probably really was picking on her during those incidents… maybe not full-blown bullying, but still showing dislike. It strikes me as kind of pathetic that CCM is completely denying T-ara’s involvement with this in a desperate attempt to keep their reputation up.
On the other hand, I can’t blame them. They couldn’t just disband T-ara or completely restructure the group without taking a bit hit. The practical way would be to lose only one member. However, this incident left the group members who’s reputation had been hurt the most. Of course they’d have to find a cover-up to save the group.
It’s just unfortunate that they acted too late.
Then again, it seems they were looking for any reason to kick someone out of the group. Back in April, CCM made an announcement that they were making the group bigger to make it easier to kick a group member out if they felt like it. CCM seemed arrogant, saying that even if fans want to see their favorite idol, they won’t put up with any group member that thinks too highly of themselves. I find this to be a foolish way of thinking.
If fans are afraid that their favorite idol could be gone at the drop of a hat, they’re not going to feel secure in being a fan of the group. Because of that, they’ll probably be more protective of their idol, and so, take it even harder if they decide to kick them out. Plus, fans only see what they let them see. If the person is really a horrible diva, they’re not going to care what the people behind the scenes say, they’re going to love that group member no matter what. Nothing CCM can say will make fans be able to accept it.
It would’ve been best if they hadn’t announced something like that and had group members leave quietly instead, before something like this would happen.
U-Kiss’ company kicked out two loved group members before, but it was easier to accept because fans didn’t want to hurt the rest of the group, who they felt was innocent in the decision. However, in the case of T-ara, fans can’t get over the “evidence” that Hwayoung was bullied by the others, so there’s less loyalty to the rest of the group now since they feel they are to blame. Even if Hwayoung was bad to the other members in T-ara as well, the fact is, Hwayoung is the only one being punished for something almost everyone was involved in.
Well, even if Hwayoung turns out to be hard to get along with, like CCM childishly announced after seeing her “facts aren’t true” tweet, I hope she handles this well and finds something better to work at. (Plus, staff is easier to replace than an idol, so their excuse doesn’t even make sense. How can they be upset by only Hwayoung and say the rest of the group are perfect angels?). Here’s one of my favorite comments about CCM’s excuses about the staff hating on Hwayoung:
Yup, I really hope she is accepted into a better company! She definitely has the public on her side and she’s talented enough.
Update: It seems that besides Korea, this topic has attention in Japan and China as well! Japan has run TV footage of the bullying evidence found by netizens, and China has released some news articles about it.
The general consensus seems to be against CCM’s way of doing things and most seem to feel sorry for Hwayoung.