From Beast to Highlight: Their Journey as a Group and the Recent Controversy Involving Yong Jun-hyung

Jun-hyung’s Departure

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We all know about the recent scandal revolving around a controversial group chat started by Seung-ri. In the group chat, he and other group chat members had been sharing hidden camera footage and photos that were illegally taken. On March 11, 2019, SBS News said that one of the singers in the group turned out to be Jung Jun-young and another was singer “Yong”. They also included a screenshot photo of the chat and showied the name of Jung Joon-young and singer “Yong”. Knowing that “Yong” was not a common name in Korea, netizens speculated that it was Yong Jun-hyung.

Later the same day, Around Us Entertainment gave an official statement regarding the issue. The agency clarified that it happened in 2016 and was a one-on-one conversation, not in a group chat. It was when Jung Joon-young was having a hard time and Jun-hyung asked him what was happening. They included some sentences in the chat as cited by Soompi, “Jung Joon-young replied ‘I got caught taking a video and sending it [the message included symbols for laughter],” and [Yong Jun-hyung] asked in return, ‘You mean you were caught by the woman?’” They also stated that Jun-hyung had not been involved in any group chat with Jung Jun-young where the illegal videos were shared and would take legal action for those who kept spreading false news about him.

It was followed by an Instagram post from Jun-hyung’s account. As cited by Soompi, he mentioned the speculations going around about him. He said that he, himself, was surprised by the news because he didn’t recognize that the event occurred. He also mentioned people commenting on his respose in the chat by thoughtlessly answering with a question. “In the future I will be a little more careful about everything I say and do. From Yong Jun-hyung.” he ended. The fans were furious about the false news because they thought many people just dragged random persons and caused many speculations that could damage the artists’ reputation, including Jun-hyung’s. The next day, SBS News explained about the screenshot chat that was reported on the news the day before. They said that it was a one-on-one chat and was actually happened in December 2015.

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Two days later, on March 14, 2019, Jun-hyung made the shocking announcement through his Instagram account that he had decided to leave Highlight. He made a long caption mentioning his recent controversy about his involvement with Jung Joon-young’s case. He admitted that he didn’t have the chat history anymore and could not confirm the exact time of them having the chat. He said that he did not receive any hidden videos when the chat occurred but received it at a different time.He claimed to be cooperative with the investigation, without any lies and had fulfilled the witness interviews. He also confessed that he participated in having inappropriate conversations about it instead of restraining Jung Joon-young. He also claimed that he never participated illegal actions such taking hidden camera records or sharing them. However, he said he realized that it was a foolish of him regarding the inappropriate conversations and that he was a silent bystander whom might increase the number of victims due to his act. “I realize the severity of this matter,” he continued as cited by Soompi, “and I do not want any further harm to be done to my fans and members who must have been disappointed because of me, so I will leave the group Highlight as of March 14, 2019. I will live while reflecting on myself again and again. I once again apologize sincerely.

Jun-hyung’s sudden announcement was followed by the agency’s official statement. They first clarified about their statement beforehand. They confirmed about his inappropriate conversation through his witness interview on March 13, 2019. They added that he was deeply reflecting on himself for disappointing many people around him, including the fans and his fellow members. The agency then confirmed Jun-hyung’s leaving and took full responsibility for his actions in order not to tarnish the group’s image. They also apologized for not being able to check the facts and being too hasty to make the previous statement.

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Many people, including the fans, were divided after the news. Some of them thanked Jun-hyung for stepping up and being brave enough to confess and were relieved he didn’t retire from the entertainment industry, while the others felt very disappointed and decided to stop admiring him or left some bad comments.

Long before the incident, Jun-hyung was scheduled to enlist on April 2, 2019. Jun-hyung finally enlisted at the recruit training center of the 23rd Infantry Division. The agency gave an official statement regarding the enlistment, but didn’t reveal the location or date of his enlistment due to his wish to enlist quietly.

Dongwoon’s Solo Debut

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Following Gi-kwang, Dong-woon has become the second member of Highlight who is going to debut as a solo singer. Recently, he revealed some concept photos for his solo mini-album Act 1: The Orchestra. He is going to release the mini-album along with the music video on April 22, 2019, at 6 p.m. KST.

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Despite its release, he won’t be able to promote it for a long time since he was scheduled to enlist on May 9, 2019. He has also passed the Conscripted Policeman Examination. He will be the last member of the group to enlist.

Many years have passed since the group’s first debut as Beast. They have gone through many things as well, including a lot of controversy and news like Hyun-seung’s ‘attitude problem’ and subsequent departure, trademark issues, their new agency, new group name, and Jun-hyung’s sudden departure. In spite of that, Gi-kwang and Dong-woon also made  solo comebacks and debuts before their enlistment, following Doo-joon and Yo-seob who  enlisted first. We can’t help but wonder what will happen next when the members of the group can be together again. Let’s all wish for the best for them!