|Ex-LOONA member Chuu / Courtesy of BlockBerry Creative|
By Kwak Yeon-soo
Chuu, the former member of K-pop girl group LOONA, has denied allegations raised by her former agency regarding "gapjil," (abuse of power in a workplace setting), clarifying that she did not do anything shameful in a message to her fans.
"Thank you for your comforting messages and for trusting me. I have not been contacted (by the agency) regarding the situation and don't know anything about it. I'm still trying to get a grasp on the situation, but I can assure you that I haven't done anything that would be shameful to my fans," she wrote on her Instagram Story, Monday.
Her statement came three days after LOONA's agency BlockBerry Creative announced that Chuu, whose real name is Kim Ji-woo, would be expelled from the girl group. It stated that Chuu had been verbally abusive and misusing her power against members of staff.
"We recently investigated Chuu's abuse of power allegations, which turned out to be true. So we decided to take responsibility by removing her from LOONA. We apologize to the staff who have been greatly hurt by this incident," the agency said in a statement on Nov. 25.
However, many industry insiders have jumped to her defense.
LOONA's Hyunjin came forward to defend her former bandmate. Shortly after the company's announcement, she wrote in a private message service offered on the fan community platform Universe. "I'm so heartbroken and angry," she wrote. "But the most heartbroken one right now is Chuu. Please give her a lot of support and love."
Singer Sunmi posted a photo of her with Chuu to show support for her. A scriptwriter for Chuu's YouTube channel, "Chuu Can Do It," also claimed that the agency's accusations of "gapjil" against Chuu are "ridiculous."
"Chuu was the kind of person who wanted to make sure the staffers were getting paid fairly even when she, herself, was in a dire situation," she wrote.
Fans expressed anger at the agency, calling for it to disclose evidence of Chuu's alleged abuse of power. BlockBerry Creative said it is willing to disclose evidence as long as Chuu and the involved staffers agree.
Chuu has been embroiled in a payment dispute with BlockBerry Creative since December last year. The singer said she did not receive any payments last year, which came as a surprise because she had appeared in numerous TV shows and advertisements. In August, Chuu did not participate in LOONA's first world tour. Some media reported the K-pop singer has signed with BY4M Studio to pursue a solo career, which both Chuu and BY4M have not confirmed yet.
Since the group's debut in August 2018, LOONA has emerged as a K-pop phenomenon. The band's summer special mini-album "Flip That," released in June, topped the iTunes top albums chart in 36 countries, including the U.S. and Spain.