July 31, 2012 13:04
A member of popular girl band T-ara was fired by her management company on Monday after a campaign of bullying by other members of the manufactured combo.
Five members of the eight-member band last week sent controversial tweets directed at Hwa-young (19), the group's rapper, who was in a wheelchair after falling on stage and was unable to perform at a recent concert in Japan and on TV in Korea. The five accused Hwa-young of being spoiled, lacking the will to push ahead and being a drag on the other group members. Some fans retweeted the messages and said it was clear Hwa-young was being bullied.
After a barrage of criticism on the Internet, the head of the band's management agency Core Contents Media in a statement on Monday afternoon announced the termination of its contract with Hwa-young.
"We took into account the opinions of 19 staff members" that Hwa-young's behavior was hurting teamwork, CEO Kim Kwang-soo said. "I'd like to add once more that there has never been any discord between the T-ara members and Hwa-young, nor any attempt to ostracize a member."
Kim appeared to be saying that Hwa-young was not the victim but rather the instigator of discord in the group. "Since T-ara's debut there has been talk of Eun-jung being ostracized, So-yeon being ostracized, Bo-ram being ostracized and others, but all that stemmed from youthful jealousy," Kim said, admitting that friction is commonplace in the band.
Core Contents Media later issued another statement accusing Hwa-young of refusing to appear on a live music program at the last minute. Hwa-young denied the charge in a tweet.
After news of Hwa-young's firing broke, more than 20,000 people joined an online fan forum set up Sunday to find out the truth behind the incident. A petition drive on a popular Internet portal pushing for T-ara to be dismantled attracted 23,000 signatures.
Showbiz insiders say bullying and animosities are nothing new in manufactured band and that the T-ara kerfuffle is just the tip of the iceberg. "It's quite common among manufactured bands who have to stick together almost around the clock to ostracize members who become more popular than the others and even force them to do hard work," said a staffer with a talent agency. "It is also common to see factions form within groups led by different members seeking to become the leader."
Another insider admitted fights break out all the time between these youngsters who live together in a place their companies pick for them. "Some of them resolve the bullying by themselves, or the agency makes them deal with the issue through dialogue if the problem becomes serious," the insider added.
"It's impossible to control how people treat each other," pop culture critic Lee Moon-won said. "But entertainers are always in the public eye and must be careful that their internal conflicts do not surface." One K-pop watcher said, "If the bullying allegations turn out to be true, this will become a big issue overseas as well and fans will become disappointed, dampening the popularity of the Korean Wave."
- Copyright © Chosunilbo & Chosun.com