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MAMAMOO's Hwasa investigated for obscene performance

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Hwasa, a member of K-pop girl group MAMAMOO / Courtesy of P NATION
Hwasa, a member of K-pop girl group MAMAMOO / Courtesy of P NATION

By Dong Sun-hwa

Hwasa of K-pop girl group MAMAMOO has been investigated by the police after being accused of staging an obscene performance during a school festival in May.

The Seoul Seongdong Police Station said Sunday that it recently summoned Hwasa to question her intention behind the controversial performance at Sungkyunkwan University, in which she licked her fingers and moved them around her groin in an apparently suggestive way. They will soon decide whether to send her case to the prosecution.

The performance in question took place on May 12 when Hwasa performed the song "Don't" (2018) with rapper Loco at the university festival held in northern Seoul. It was part of filming for tvN's variety show "Dancing Queens on the Road" (2023), which features five K-pop divas including Hwasa holding a series of concerts nationwide.

If found guilty, the 28-year-old could face a maximum sentence of one year in jail or a fine of up to 5 million won ($3,800).

The investigation was initiated after a civic group, Student Parent's Rights Protection Union, filed a complaint against Hwasa after her performance went viral. The group claimed her actions during the performance were "indecent" and her gesture reminded people of "perverted sexual relationships."

"It was enough to evoke a sense of shame and disgust among the audience," the group said. "Given that it does not fit the context of the choreography, her gesture can't be viewed as an artistic act."

In response, her management company P NATION, said Hwasa fully cooperated with the police investigation.

Hwasa herself also addressed the issue, saying she shed a lot of tears following the controversy.

"My performance has recently caused a stir … I usually don't pay that much attention to hate comments, but they were quite malicious this time," Hwasa said during her appearance on the YouTube channel "Sung Si Kyung," hosted by fellow singer Sung Si-kyung, Sept. 4.

This is not the first time that a K-pop star has been questioned over obscenity in performance. In 2010, prosecutors questioned G-Dragon of K-pop boy band BIGBANG after he was accused of imitating sexual acts with a female dancer on a bed while performing his song, "Breathe" (2009) during his solo concert in December, 2009. But the charges were later dropped.

Dong Sun-hwa


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