Is T-ara’s Former Maknae, Ah-reum Really Bullied?
In 2012, rumors of internal bullying within the members of T-ara, focusing on the supposed victims, Hwa-young and Ah-reum, surfaced on the internet. The rumors alleged the original T-ara members to be bullying the newly-added members, due to unfair treatment and jealousy. Some of the evidence included Hwa-young’s leg injury and rough treatment, and jokes in variety shows. The news angered fans and the Korean public, and lead to an all-out boycott from the public over the scandal, without any clarification from MBK Entertainment, T-ara’s entertainment agency.
Despite Ah-reum having left the group in 2013, her presence was still felt in regards to T-ara and their declining fame. Many people talked about her unhealthy mental state, which was supposedly caused by member’s bullying, with some pointing to her nonsense instagram posts. Despite that, there has recently been a sudden surge of support for T-ara due to new evidence pointing to the notion that no bullying occurred within the group.
So what led to Ah-reum finally leaving in 2013? Are rumors of bullying true? And what pushed her over the edge to quit the idol life altogether? Stay tuned, as we take a deeper look at Ah-reum’s departure from T-ara and the bullying rumors!
Departure From T-ara
Ah-reum made a video announcement on July 10th, 2013, that she was leaving T-ara after just one year to pursue a solo career, rather than continuing on as part of the girl-group. Her departure closely followed her fellow member Hwa-young’s departure just a few months earlier. Her departure was ironic, since she was supposed to fill the gap in the group left by Hwa-young’s leaving. This left T-ara with their six original members, the ones who rose to fame with songs such as Roly Poly.
The reasons Ah-reum gave fans for leaving are flimsy at best. She stated she wanted to pursue a solo career and just break out of the T-ara mold. This seemed particularly weird and ‘off’, as she had only just been included in T-ara’s subunit lineup, T-ara N4. The group was also able to rake some success out of their song, even having plans to tour with the song in the US. The blame for the situation could only be put on T-ara’s agency’s CEO, Kim Kwang Soo, who tried to right the wrongs he made with Hwayoung’s awkward entry into T-ara with Ah-reum.
Some fans also speculated that part of the reason she left might be the bullying scandal that centered around Hwa-young and her departure. Since the story broke, T-ara’s popularity has suffered, and her name has essentially been dragged through the mud. The scandal could have also caused a great deal of stress and anxiety that Ah-reum couldn’t tolerate any longer, thus her choosing to leave the group.
The Truth Behind The Infamous Bullying Scandal
When talking about Ah-reum’s departure from T-ara, it’s impossible to skirt around the topic of the supposed bullying that occurred within the group. Part of the reason why she left, as per speculation of netizens and fans alike, is largely attributed to the bullying, whether Ah-reum was a victim or a bystander that was somehow complicit.
Hwa-young has claimed that the bullying which occurred within the group was quite extensive, with members ignoring her presences to the point of near-violence. This violence might be acted out through jokes that were forceful in nature, but played out to be a show of their closeness and good-natured relationships. One instance that fans suspect could be considered bullying, was when T-ara’s Jiyeon tried to forcibly feed Hwa-young, despite it looking like Hwa-young could not take it. Moments like this, which could be passed off as mere accidents became ammunition for the public to start hating on T-ara in support, first, of Hwa-young, and then Ah-reum.
As years went on, Hwa-young still stuck with her initial story of being the victim of bullying within the group. As tensions rose with her newest project, staff and managers who had witnessed the situation firsthand started opening up about the incident. They revealed that Hwa-young has been hiding behind a lie, that she was never bullied. As most knew, Hwa-young had a twin sister who was part of another group in the company, who looked after her, and took it a little bit far.
Hwa-young joined around the same time that Ah-reum did. Hwa-young seemed to be bothered and uncomfortable by it, since Ah-reum had an easygoing relationship with the rest of the members of the group. This prompted Hyo-young, Hwa-young’s sister, to take it out on Ah-reum and the rest of T-ara. The screenshots below reveal that Hyo-young tried to threaten Ah-reum for an unspecified action she supposedly did, to the point where she wanted to beat Ah-reum up when they next saw each other.
In 2017, as Ah-reum decided to step out from the shadows and joined an idol rebooting show, she took the chance to clear up any misunderstandings about the situation. She stated, “I don’t think my members did anything wrong. There are disagreements in every group, but the world put the spotlight on T-ara because of the bullying controversy. We just didn’t communicate enough, and we were careful of each other. I don’t acknowledge that I was bullied nor that they bullied me.” Ah-reum revealed that she was more hurt by the staff at the time, but attributed their behavior to their childishness and young age.
In addition to the bullying rumors, there are rumors that her mental instability online has resulted in stress. The stress pushed her to refer to those darkest moments as a huge emotional and physical trauma. The trauma led her to not be able to eat in public and losing 40 kilograms over a span of that time. She also locked herself up in her room and refused to come out. During her most difficult time, she was admitted to the hospital. She said, “While being admitted to the hospital for a month, I took medication and regained my health. I gained 15 kilograms after being admitted in there, and even after leaving it, I gained more than 15 kilograms. So at one point, I weighed 73 kilograms.”
Solo Activities and Latest News
Ah-reum has recently returned to the public eye through the idol rebooting show, The Unit. She hoped to use the show to demonstrate that she was now fine, body and spirit, and was able to promote again as an idol. She also used the show as a platform to explain herself, and her take on the past bullying rumors, and viewers and fans alike were very glad that she was able to tell her side of the story, clearing all the bad rumors that were still left. She didn’t care about the outcome of the show very much, as her goal was just to get her name out there again.
Currently, Ah-reum is preparing a healing photobook. She said, “I really wanted to be comforted, but when I thought about it, comforting someone and hearing them say thank you to me would comfort me. So I’m going to make a book with nature, photos of people’s happy faces, and my writing in it. I would like to freely receive any amount above a fixed price and donate the proceeds to an orphanage.”
So what do you think of Ah-reum’s statements about the supposed bullying? Do you agree with her conclusion that it was just something that occurred when they were still childish? Do you think they had malicious intent? Comment your thoughts down below!