News — June 16, 2015 at 7:13 pm

Remembering the Top 10 most shocking K-Pop scandals of 2014 (and what’s happened since)


As we approach the half way point of 2015 we figured it’s the perfect time to cast our eyes back and reflect on all the craziness that occurred in the realm of K-pop in 2014 and what’s happened since we’ve ticked over into the new year.


With lashings of drama and a boatload of scandal, it was certainly a year to be remembered. 2014 has being labeled as one of the most scandalous years in K-pop history, featuring everything from blackmail, drug scandals, abuse allegations, contract terminations and the unveiling of some unexpected romances. 2015, by contrast, hasn’t got a dime on the madness of last year. In no particular order (honestly, who could choose one?!?) we count down the top 10 most shocking scandals in the K-pop world for 2014 and what’s happened since then.


1. Kris and Luhan Leave EXO


At the start of 2014 EXO were riding high and as the newest kings of K-pop and it seemed they had the world at their feet. Their album was the first to sell over a million copies in Korea in the past 10 years, their concert in Seoul sold out within 2 seconds, their Youtube channel was receiving millions of hits daily – it seemed they were unstoppable.

But then the unimaginable happened. On May 15, SM Entertainment revealed that the Chines born Canadian member Kris, the leader of sub group EXO-M, had filed a suit against the agency to terminate his contract. The shock departure left fans stunned but they rallied to his side in support. He received over 901 thousand comments on a photo of a hand written message that read, “This is like David and Goliath. I am doing well. Because everyone is cheering me on, things are getting better. I am thankful to all the people who are supporting me and the comments. Wu Yi Fan will always be here.”

By October, fellow member Luhan had filed a suit against SM Entertainment to have his contract terminated too, claiming health related issues which included persistent headaches and a sleeping disorder. Well that was the original story. During mediation it became clear that Luhan had acting ambitions and just wanted out. Since then he’s gone on to appear in multiple Chinese movies, even winning a Newcomer Award for the Chinese film ‘Miss Granny’.

SM aggressively responded and have launched court action against both of the stars.  SM said in a statement. “The contracts between SM and Luhan as well as Kris are effective until the court makes their final verdict on the matter and need to be kept. Any profitable action including advertisement modelling and taking part in the filming of a movie clearly goes against the contract, and we plan to have those involved take responsibility for their actions.” The case continues but the headaches don’t stop for SM entertainment with another member of EXO Tao also reportedly leaving the group. While he has not yet filed a lawsuit to get out of his SM contract, it may just be a matter of time.

2. Park Bom’s Drug Scandal


Park Bom of 2NE1 was making a good name for herself on SBS’s reality television Roommates. She was bubbly, close with all of the roommates and even had a love interest in roommate Lee Dong Wook.

But things quickly became unraveled after Korean media outlet KBS broke the story that she had previously attempted to smuggle drugs into South Korea from the United States. Her entertainment company YG (and CEO Yang Hyun Suk himself) released a personal statement in her defense, but the damage to her reputation was already done. Bom spent much of the year avoiding public appearances since the scandal broke but on December 21, the ‘SBS Gayo Daejun’ aired and 2NE1 performed for the first time in memory without one of its four members.

She has since then gone on a self imposed exile, “taking time to reflect” according to a YG spokesperson and has not been involved in any public appearances or promotional activities for the band. The first signs of life from the starlet came when she resurfaced on Instagram after a year hiatus, liking a post of fellow member Dara with YG Entertainment new boy group Winner’s Seungyoon. No-one know exactly where Park is now but it has been speculated by media outlets that she’s now staying in New York, Milan or Japan.


3. GLAM’s Dahee arrested after attempting to blackmail actor Lee Byung Hun


In one of the more bizarre scandals of the year, in early September, actor Lee Byung Hun went to the police claiming that two women, GLAM’s Da Hee and model Lee Ji Yeon were blackmailing him to the tune of $5 million. If he didn’t pay, they would release video footage of him involved in a sexually explicit conversation. Lee Byung Hun went to the police with the allegations and the two women were arrested.

Throughout the course of the trial the two women claimed that the blackmail was in retaliation for a breakup, claiming that Lee Ji Yeon and Lee Byung Hun were involved in a relationship that he broke off when he would not purchase a house for her. Lee Byung Hun claimed there was ever any affair.  The trial continued and even after repeated apologies to the Seoul Central District Court from Da Hee and Li Ji Yeon, the courts found the two women guilty of blackmail and sentenced them to 12 – 14 months prison time. Though he no doubt had a whole lot of explaining to do, Lee Byung Hun is still with his wife and living in the United States at the moment.


4. Kim Hyun Joong’s Assault Scandal


The news that one of most popular South Korean stars in Asia beat up his girlfriend came as a shock to his fans around the world. Dispatch reported in August that Kim Hyun Joong’s girlfriend of two years pressed criminal charges against the singer which were related to a series of assaults occurred against her between May and July of this year. The next day Joong’s management company released an official statement claiming the charges were exaggerated and that photos were of a separate instance where the two were playfully fighting.

Kim Hyun Joong eventually admitted that there had been an argument that got physical after a four hour interview with police and went on to apologize, both publicly and in person to his ex girlfriend. The criminal charges were eventually withdrawn in September but the police pursued charges based on the injuries sustained by the woman, known only as ‘Choi’ which included bruises and broken ribs.

Since then things have gotten a whole lot crazier with the couple making up and then breaking up in explosive fashion at least once. First there was the announcement that they were getting back together and within weeks they’d told the world through Korean magazine “Woman Sense” that they were expecting a child later in the year. Then it seems they weren’t back together again as details emerged that Choi had launched a $1.48 million civil lawsuit based on claims from that she had a miscarriage due to domestic abuse back in 2014. Kim Hyun Joong ended up leaving to serve in the military and now is threatening to counter sue for defamation of character and is demanding a paternity test. Honestly, you can’t make this stuff up and needless to say, this messy situation is a long way off being resolved.


5. Gil from LeeSsang Caught Drink Driving

Gil from Leessang is the latest celebrity to be caught in a drink driving scandal

On April 23rd representatives at the Mapo Police Station made a statement to media outlets that Gil Sung Soon had been charged with driving under the influence. The singer was driving his Mercedes Benz G63 AMG on the Yanghwa Bridge when he was caught with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.109% at which is over twice the legal limit.

The star quickly issued an apology through Leessang Company stating “I sincerely apologize for causing trouble and disappointing fans and those who have given me love all this time because of my inappropriate actions. I will make sure that this does not happen again. I once again bow my head and sincerely apologize.”Unfortunately the damage was done. The public quickly turned against Gil, he had his license suspended and lost his place on the show ‘Infinity Challenge’ as a result of the reckless decision.


6. Romance Between Taeyeon and Baekhyun


If there ever was going to be a celebrity couple that was going to generate interest, one between the most popular members of EXO and Girls’ Generation was surely the one to do it. The internet almost exploded after Dispatch unveiled photos of Taeyeon and Baekhyun supposedly on a date, shocking fans across the world. The pair were first spotted back in October 2013, meaning the pair had been dating for almost four months in secret. Although SM Entertainment initially denied the dating rumors, they were later confirmed by the agency.

In fact, it seemed like almost all of the members of SNSD were involved in some form of dating scandal across 2014 but with polarized opinions, none captured the public’s attention like this couple. As with many relationships in the K-pop world it was difficult to see what exaclt went on behind closed doors but by November they were removing each other from their respective Instagram feeds, the universal sign that things are over.


7. Sulli and Choiza dating scandal


SM took an extraordinarily long time to address Sulli and Choiza’s relationship which had been going on since September 2013 when Choiza and Sulli were photographed holding hands. SM Entertainment denied their relationship but when someone found Choiza’s wallet with pictures of Sulli in it, there was confirmation given that the wallet was indeed his but no comment on the pictures.

Shortly after the wallet-fiasco, SM announced that Sulli wouldn’t be appearing at all of f(x)’s promotions for their latest song “Red Light,” due to having the flu but photos emerged of Sulli and Choiza having dates, while Sulli was meant to be recovering. After months of speculation SM Entertainment confirmed that f(x) member Sully and Dynamic Duo’s Choiza were indeed in a romantic relationship, but not before the situation blew up in their face and both SM entertainment and Sulli had lost a significant amount of credibility amongst fans.

Sulli went into hiatus last year after harsh criticism from fans, which led f(x) to continue promoting their last comeback song “Red Light” with only four members. Whilst there’s still been no sign of Sulli rushing back to rejoin f(x) Sulli and Choiza were spotted arm in arm on a late night date just two months ago.


8. PRITZ Causes controversy With Nazi-Like Costumes

PRITZ Nazi style uniforms

Before November, K-pop girl group PRITZ were unheard of. That was all about to change when, during a performance on November 2, they pulled off their coats to reveal their outfits. Clearly taking inspiration from Japanese pop metal act Babymetal, it was not surprising to see their Gothic Lolita style frilly dresses adorned with lace, bows and crosses but the armbands they wore caused a sensation. Images of the group went viral and social media users were quick to lambast the group for wearing armbands that looked strikingly similar to those worn by the Nazis during the Second World War.

Their entertainment agency went quickly on the offensive, saying that the logo was inspired by traffic signs and then went on to say that the arrowheads at the end symbolize PRITZ’s ambitions of expanding “without a limit in four directions”. To an outsider it appears like a PR stunt gone terribly wrong… or could it be that, based on the amount of global media attention it generated, that was the intention all along?

If so, it didn’t work as planned with the group rapidly fading back into obscurity, only managing to rack up a few thousand YouTube views in the past 6 months since the scandal broke.

9. Bumkey Charged With Drug Distribution

Bumkey busted for shady amphetamine and ecstasy deals

In yet another drug scandal for 2014, TROY’s Bumkey was arrested and charged by Seoul police’s narcotics division on charges of distributing meth and ecstasy. The 30 year old hip hop musician, whose off-stage name is Kwon Ki-beom, was charged with selling six grams of Philopon (amphetamines) as well as taking Ecstasy on two different occasions from the period of August 2012 to September 2013.

While the singer and his management company were quick to deny the charges, evidence was unveiled in the testimonies of those that took the drugs and account transactions, all substantiating the charges, the prosecution explained. Whilst the prosecution were demanding 5 years in jail when the case actually went to court the case fell apart with inconsistent witness statements and changing testimony by key witnesses.

10. B.A.P’s Members File A Group Lawsuit Against Their Agency

B.A.P sue their management TS Entertainment for what they have called 'slave conditions'

The dark side of the music industry was exposed for all to see when popular boy band B.A.P filed a group lawsuit against their agency TS Entertainment on November 28. They moved to nullify their contract accusing the management of unfair treatment and a litany of other abuse: mandatory performances against doctors’ stern advice, involuntary IV drip insertion for added energy after too many all-nighters, removing access to cell phones, electronic surveillance and only allowing members 10 minute visitations with parents and loved ones.

The icing on the cake is that each member has received just one $16,000 USD paycheck after the group has been active for the past three years, held several concert tours and released 18 singles. The story, as expected, has spilled into this year as the precedent set by the outcome of this litigation, whatever it may be, will prove historic.