|From left, F.T. Island member Choi Jong-hyun, Yong Jun-hyung from HIGHLIGHT, CNBLUE member Lee Jong-hyun, and BIGBANG's Seungri admit they viewed sex videos filmed by Jung Joon-young. Seungri, Choi and Yong announced their retirement from music. / Korea Times file.|
Hit hard by sex videos, unintended reshuffles inevitable for K-pop boy bands
By Jung Hae-myoung
Four K-pop boy bands ― BIGBANG, F.T. Island, CNBLUE and HIGHLIGHT ― will inevitably undergo unintended reshuffles as some members are found to have been in a group chat responsible for sharing illegally taped sex videos.
It remains uncertain whether or not those boy bands will be able to manage the fallout and have a fresh restart once the massive controversy has passed.
On Friday, FNC Entertainment admitted CNBLUE member Lee Jong-hyun, who is now serving his mandatory military service, was one of the group chat participants who viewed the illegal videos.
"Lee regrets his ignorant behavior which could have been prevented if he had proper sexual awareness," FNC Entertainment said in a statement.
"He told us what he did was unacceptable and inappropriate. He had some inappropriate chats with other members regarding women and he said he is sorry for causing trouble."
FNC Entertainment's apology came a day after SBS reported Lee was a member of the chat room by unveiling his messages with singer Jung Joon-young who secretly taped sex videos of women he had met. Lee wrote to Jung, "Please send me girls." When asked who to send, Lee answered, "Any bitch, a beautiful one."
FNC said it took time for them to check if the media report was true mainly because Lee was out of touch at that time because of his military duty.
The agency stopped short of saying whether Lee will stay in CNBLUE or not.
CNBLUE fans demanded Lee quit the group. In a statement, they called for firing Lee, rather than just a suspension of his activities as a CNBLUE member, and noted most fans are women and Lee's misogynistic behavior cannot be accepted.
BIGBANG, a core and active group of YG Entertainment, was hit the hardest.
The boy band is unlikely to make a comeback with its original five members even after other members return after completing their military service. Seungri, who triggered the ongoing crisis that hit the entire K-pop scene, announced his retirement from the entertainment industry.
Yong Jun-hyung, a member of HIGHLIGHT and one of the other chatroom members, also said he would retire, Thursday, as the sex video scandal spread rapidly. He admitted he also watched the video clip that Jung sent in the group chat, days after his initial denial of the allegation.
"Yong watched the video Jung filmed in 2015 after he was drunk, and had inappropriate conversation through a one-on-one chat," Yong's agency, Around US Entertainment, said in a statement, Thursday. "This was confirmed at the witness interview with the police on Wednesday."
Choi Jong-hoon, previously a member of F.T. Island, also announced his retirement on Thursday due to fans' strong demand. Aside from being in the chatroom, local media revealed he drove under the influence of alcohol in 2016 near Itaewon, Seoul, and had his license suspended and was ordered to pay a penalty of 2.5 million won.
"Choi apologizes to all people and fans who have been hurt by his shameful behavior and he is regretting his wrongdoings," FNC Entertainment wrote in the official statement.
Experts warned the K-pop industry of the negative consequences of sex video scandals.
"This is not just a problem of Seungri as an individual, but multiple K-pop stars who were in the group chat," culture critic Ha Jae-geun said.
"This could disappoint many international fans who thought Korean entertainment was clean. There's no doubt the image of K-pop will be tarnished as well."