When you’re in show business, bad decisions can crush your career in a split second. While scandal is nothing new in the entertainment industry, Korean fans judge their idols on a much harsher scale. While most are adept at putting on the facade that they’re perfect, innocent and pleasing all the time, there have been some that have slipped up and paid the price for it.
Here are 12 Korean celebs who have seriously affected their careers by scandal:
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10 years after he was involved in an assault case, Super Junior member Kangin officially announced his departure from the group. His label, Label SJ, confirmed the news to the press, saying,”We have decided to respect Kangin’s decision to leave the group voluntarily. This does not affect his exclusive contract with the company; however, nothing has been decided regarding his future promotions.”
The 34-year-old K-pop star told fans via a long Instagram post that he is letting go of the name “Super Junior”, to prevent further damage to his members and walk his own path alone.
Kangin has committed a multitude of offences – besides the 2009 brawl where he was arrested for fighting two men, he has also been charged twice for drunk-driving and hit and run accidents.
The 42-year-old lead actor of Korean drama Joseon Survival was arrested on July 9 after he was accused of sexual assault and rape by two female employees from his agency. They had gone to his home for drinks after a company dinner. The women allege that the actor raped and sexually assaulted them in his home, after they had fallen asleep. One of the women woke up to see Kang assaulting her friend, and noticed that her clothes were in disarray as well.
Following the arrest, Joseon Survival announced that they are cancelling this week’s episode and will not air any reruns. They’ve also begun looking for an actor to replace Ji-Hwan.
This scandal isn’t the first to plague the actor. In 2014, whilst on a work trip to the Philippines, photos of Ji-Hwan in bed with a Filipino woman were circulated online. She was revealed to be his guide’s wife, and she posted the photos. However, a representative revealed that the photos were only taken in jest.
Actor-singer Yoo-chun was accused of sexual assault by several girls but there was never any concrete proof and the charges against him were dropped. The public’s negative perception of him never waned, however, and it allegedly led to his fiancee, socialite Hwang Ha-na, calling off their marriage in 2018.
Earlier this year, he was accused of purchasing and taking drugs with Ha-na on six occasions and sentenced to two years of probation and slapped a US$1,200 (S$1,627) fine.
The judge reportedly gave him a more lenient sentence as he was a first-time offender and had been cooperative during the investigation. After the sentencing, he met with media outside the courtroom where he said that he would work hard to regain his fans’ trust.
Shortly after it was announced that Big Bang’s Seungri is being investigated on anti-prostitution charges following the Burning Sun club scandal, the 28-year-old took to Instagram to announce his retirement.
The singer, who last performed at The Star Theatre here in February, is being accused of providing prostitutes to foreign investors in his private club in Korea.
Just a day later (March 12), Seungri was embroiled in another sex scandal, wherein he and other Korean celebrities received illicitly-taped sex videos via a chat group. He has reportedly turned his phone in to the police for investigation.
He wrote on Instagram:
This is Seungri.
I think it would be good for me to retire from showbiz at this point. I have decided to retire from the entertainment industry because of the huge social controversy that arose from the issues. I’m under investigation and will accede to it with sincerity so that all the suspicions can be revealed.
In the past one-and-a-half month, I have received criticisms and hatred from people, and now all the national investigative agencies are investigating me. I’m in a situation where I cannot afford to let myself live while causing pain to the people around me.
I’m very grateful to fans both in Korea and overseas who have shown me love for the past 10 years. For the sake and honour of Big Bang and YG, I will end my career now.
I would like to apologise once again. Thank you for everything for all these years.
The 30-year-old singer and TV celebrity’s agency, MAKEUS Entertainment, terminated his contract after he admitted on Wednesday (13 March) to secretly filming his sex romps with various women, and sharing them in an online chat group.
He’s been barred from leaving the country, and like Seungri, turned his phone over to the police.
According to South Korean broadcaster SBS, the men also exchanged lewd messages about women in the chat group, such as making jokes about rape and drugging women.
The third Korean artist involved is 29-year-old of the boy band HIGHLIGHT (formerly Beast). According to his label, Around Us Entertainment, Yong reportedly admitted to watching the sex tapes and then “had an inappropriate conversation with [Jung]”.
He has since quit the group, and is “now in a deep state of reflection for his past inappropriate actions, as well as for the disappointment that he undoubtedly caused many due to his immorality,” his label says.
On Instagram, the singer told his 1.7 million followers that what he did was “extremely unethical” and “stupid”.
Just hours later, the fourth K-pop artist who found himself in hot water is guitarist and musician Choi Jong-hoon of rock band F.T. Island, also 29 years old. After reports came out that he was also a member in the chat group, his own fans called for his removal from the band.
Korean media sources also speculate that he may have bribed police to keep his drink-driving under wraps back in 2016.
Choi released an apology statement on Instagram, which you can read below:
Hello, this is Choi Jong Hoon.
I am writing this message to apologize to the Korean people who may have felt upset and outraged with me.
After reading the conversations in the chatroom I was involved in through the news reports, I was so distressed and ashamed to come across the forgotten past messages again.
The fact that I made these careless remarks and couldn’t remember them all this time made me reflect on what a false sense of ethics I’d been living with. In addition, as I read over comments of criticism and anger, I realize that I had fallen into a sense of entitlement, and I am deeply regretting it. I will repent greatly of my sins from my immoral life, and I will live while reflecting on this for the rest of my life.
First I must bow my head in apology to the victims who were hurt with lasting wounds. And I apologize to the numerous victims who have been harmed after being dragged into this incident despite having nothing to do with it.
I’m also ashamed of myself as I was in the position of being leader to the members of FTISLAND, but I acted disgracefully. And to the fans (PRIMADONNA) who have supported my activities until now, I’m also sorry that I failed to live up to the expectations you believed in, and that I have betrayed your trust in me. As of today, I will leave the team and retire from the entertainment industry. I will spend my entire life thoroughly reflecting on my past days when I acted carelessly without any feelings of remorse. I will also diligently participate in future investigations without any falsehoods, and I will accept the punishment I deserve. I am sorry.
The 28-year-old lead singer and guitarist of Korean rock band CNBLUE, who is currently serving national service, deleted all of his Instagram posts since news broke that he had received illicit sex videos in a separate chat with Jung Joon Young.
While Lee’s agency initially denied his involvement in the ongoing sex scandal, they just released a new statement today (March 15) that says otherwise. You can read the full statement by his agency, FNC Entertainment below:
“Back on the evening of March 12, we revealed that our label artist Lee Jonghyun ‘has no relation to the ongoing scandal whatsoever, only that he is acquainted with the individual involved.’
Lee Jonghyun, who is currently serving in the military, took part in police questioning the morning before the above statement occurred, on the afternoon of March 12. At the time, Lee Jonghyun felt that in approximately 20 or so messages containing a 1:1 conversation with him and Jung Joon Young, there was no evidence of illegal hidden camera footage or inappropriate remarks found; as a result, Jonghyun relayed to the company that he was not involved.
The company had no choice but to deliver a statement based on Lee Jonghyun’s memories alone, as it has been 4-5 years since Jonghyun left the Kakao Chat room currently under fire, and we could not confirm the truth behind the conversations in this chat room. We did not intend to hide the truth or cover his mistakes in the least.
After the additional news report by SBS on March 14, we were able to get in contact with Lee Jonghyun. He has admitted that his attitude in viewing the footage shared in the Kakao Talk messages, and in the inappropriate remarks he made degrading women, are actions deserving of condemnation; he is reflecting on his actions deeply.
He feels that if he had a proper perspective of gender rights at the time, he would not have been a bystander in these crimes. He apologizes to all who were disappointed and hurt by Jonghyun’s immoral comments, made without any realization that he was committing a crime.
Jonghyun is currently accepting the public’s harsh criticism of his immoral attitude and mistaken perspective of gender rights, feeling embarrassed and miserable about his character with great regret. As a public figure, Jonghyun will take caution in all of his actions and deeply reflect on his wrongdoings.”
Other Big Bang members have also taken a known to their reputation, including rapper T.O.P. This charismatic singer is one of the biggest idols in the world but he shocked his fans in June this year when he was arrested for smoking marijuana.
Just a few weeks later, T.O.P was found unconscious in his home after overdosing on prescription pills. He was sentenced to a 10-month jail term and was put on two years probation.
The 31-year-old completed his military service on 6 July, 2019, and thanked his fans for their support nonetheless: “Even though I am not proud of myself, I would like to express my deepest gratitude to all the fans who made time and efforts to share this moment with me. I will make sure to reflect on myself and repay the hurts and disappointments I caused to you.”
The former 2NE1 member was part of one of South Korea’s most successful girl groups.
But in 2014, she was charged with drug smuggling and her agency, YG, did nothing to help positively reconstruct her image following that scandal despite the fact that she was never charged for her misdeeds.
Can you believe that se7en was once a huge rival to mega pop prince, Rain?
In 2013 it all went south for the good-looking crooner when he was caught visiting several massage parlours that were famous for masseuses who also doubled up as prostitutes.
Worse of all – he did all this while on active military duty.
This K-idol-turned-actor was involved in a nasty incident with his ex-girlfriend that left the woman bloodied and bruised.
He admitted to assaulting her but said he was practicing his martial arts moves in preparation for a movie and didn’t intend to hurt her.
Not surprisingly, his excuse didn’t hold up in court.
This post was updated on July 12, 2019.