Kpop Scandals: Growing Pains of a Growing Industry

From left to right: Seungri, G-Dragon, Taeyang, T.O.P. and Daesung of Big Bang

Kpop is a musical genre that began in South Korea and has rapidly spread across the world with critical acclaim. In Jan Laurens Hartong’s novel, Musical Terms Worldwide: A Companion for the Musical Explorer, she describes Kpop as being,

a musical style that began in the 1960’s with the blending of Western pop music and Japanese Enka-style music. Today, it is one of the most famous musical genres in the world and incorporates musical styles from every culture.

Maybe you even have a favorite Kpop star. I am personally a huge fan of BTS and Twice, Kpop groups that have been performing for just under a decade. Regardless of if you have heard of Kpop or not, odds are that due to its incredible popularity across the globe, you will soon know all about it, and maybe even have a favorite group of your own.


Unfortunately, though Kpop fans (including myself) might not want to admit it, there have been a growing number of scandals in the world of Kpop. The largest and most concerning scandal concerns a Kpop star named Seungri from the internationally famous band, Big Bang. The scandal took place in February of 2018, and involved sexual allegations at a private club.

People have reacted to these scandals in numerous different ways. These reactions range from individuals such as fans in Korea to fellow Korean celebrities. Many have turned away from celebrities such as Seungri and have even started publicly hating on him. Some Korean celebrities have even spoken up and publicly announced their disrespect and disappointment. Many rookies in the Kpop industry have even been heard to avoid Seungri and be careful to not get involved with him too much.

The specific timeline of the Seungri scandal has been broken down as follows:

  • A man named Mr. Kim (keeping this vague to protect identity) was assaulted at a club where Seungri works.
  • The club where Seungri worked denied the claim and actually put the fault on Mr. Kim.
  • Seungri and the club fired the man who allegedly assault Mr. Kim.
  • Texts and chatroom conversations were released showing that Seungri and other individuals may have been involved with other assault scandals and cover ups at the same club.
  • According to police reports, “Seungri reportedly directed the employee to find prostitutes…The Seoul Police Department launched an investigation into the prostitution claims.” Less than 2 months after the investigation began, “Seungri was booked on charges of supplying prostitutes, and he became a suspect in the case. Three to four more members of the chat were booked.”
  • Although the investigation is still ongoing, it does appear that Seungri will likely be serving some type of jail sentence, but this is still unknown.

Sadly, Seungri is only the beginning, as numerous other scandals have been brought to light in the Kpop world. These scandals involve big names, such as Jung Joon Young, Choi Jong Hoon, Roy Kim, Eddy Kim, Yong Jun Hyung, and Lee Jong Hyun.

BTS at the 32nd Golden Disk Awards
뉴스인스 (NewsInStar)

An interesting point to note is that many of these scandals center around specific Kpop labels. This could be due to different label policies or a general affinity by some labels toward more risky celebrities. Many entertainment managers train their trainees differently and some of their celebrities in their entertainment  have more scandals than other entertainment industries. For example, YG trains his trainees and his idols strictly, but he gives them too much freedom, so they act recklessly, which leads them to many scandals. This specific company has the group Big Bang in it, the band which started the whole Burning Sun scandal involving Seungri.

Although these scandals give a bad name to Kpop, fortunately, the vast majority of Kpop stars are scandal-free and do a great deal of good for their community.

( Jeon Han

This also has to do with each Kpop label and how they train and educate their stars. For example, as seen on the Korean survival show, Stray Kids, JYP and Big Hit train their idols strictly based on their skills, such as vocal, rap and dancing, but they also have to have to have a good personality. They have to be respectful not only to their elders and group members, but also their fans. JYP and Big Hit owners were personally good friends back in the day, and they even grew the entertainment JYP together, so this could be why they have many similar training styles. This could very well be why they are some of the most scandal-free agencies to date.

In the Burning Sun scandal, there are many companies whose idols are involved in it, but there are companies who trained their trainees well, so they aren’t involved. Hopefully proper training practices will continue so that the world of Kpop will be scandal-free and spread across the globe with ease. I can’t wait for the day when everyone has their own favorite Kpop star…as long as it isn’t Seungri.

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