List of K-Pop Scandals That Shocked the Korean Entertainment Industry: the Burning Sun Scandal, the SOPA Scandal, and More

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Learn More About Some of The Spotlight Scandals in South Korean Entertainment, Here!

As K-Pop idols and celebrities, many performers have had possibilities to be involved in such cases, whether it was because of something they were known to have done, or it was because someone leveled an accusation against them. In 2018 and 2019, the K-Pop entertainment industry surprised us with some of the ‘spotlight’ scandals from their idols. Some cases became very huge and surprised the fans, as well. Through this article, Channel Korea will explain to you about all of those the scandals, so stay tuned!

One of the most talked-about was about the Burning Sun scandal, since it involved a lot of famous male K-Pop idols, one of whom was BIG BANG’s Seungri. There’s also the voting manipulation scandal from the famous survival show, Produce 101, which left fans extremely angry with the show. Beyond those, there are still a lot of other cases which might be detrimetal to the other people involved in them. If you want to know the details about those cases, let’s check out the article down below!

The Burning Sun Scandal

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Let’s start with the Burning Sun scandal! Burning Sun is well known as the nightclub which has been managed by ex-BIG BANG’s Seungri since 2015. The nightclub became really famous not only around the K-Pop entertainment industry, but also for other important figures.

The Burning Sun scandal became known around the end of January 2019, and it consisted of sexual harrasment cases, rape cases, and also drug cases. The case was started when there was an old recording from CCTV about a man who was called Mr. Kim. He was the victim of a violence experience by Burning Sun staff. The violence also reportedly related with the sexual harrasment within it.

Then some of popular names became involved within the case, who also became the suspects, such as ex-BIG BANG’s Seungri, Jung Joon-young, CNBLUE’s Lee Jong-hyun, FT Island’s Choi Jong-hoon, and some political figures. At first, Seungri released an official statement through his Instagram account that he wasn’t involved with the case, since he  only worked for the promotion part of Burning Sun. The statement was backed by YG Entertaiment (Seungri’s agency), who said that Seungri wasn’t involved. Even so, Seungri also said that he would take full responsibility toward the Burning Sun scandal.

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The scandal began to reveal other issues, such as sexual harrasment and prostitution. It was reported that Seungri was involved with the prostitution scandal, since he was involved with a ‘women’s supply’ for the foreigh investor who also worked along with Burning Sun. Meanwhile, the other idols such as Jung Joon-young, Lee Jong-hyun, Choi Jong-hoon, and several important figures were involved in a chatroom which also revealed sexual harassment, including Jung Joon-young’s video of having sex with a woman, which was shared without her permission.

The impact was quite big, since the scandal was involved a lot of people, especially male K-Pop idols. Some of them were convicted as criminals and imprisoned. The scandal made ex-BIG BANG’s Seungri and Jung Joon-young decide to leave the entertainment industry and stop his career on March 2019. Some entertainment agencies in South Korea also took a hit, with their market value dropping from around US $2.96 billion. YG Entertainment was hit especially hard, their stock prices dropped by half between January and September 2019.

South Korea’s President, Moon Jae-in, also gave a special order to the official police to investigate the Burning Sun scandal with full transparency. Meanwhile, the public was gave various responses. Some of the fans were asking YG Entertainment to remove Seungri from the group, in order to protect BIG BANG’s image.

Later, they found out that Seungri resigned from the group and the entertainment industry. In December 2019, the Burning Sun scandal ranked third on Google’s most popular domestic and searched items for Korea, and Jung Joon-young ranked second. YG Entertainment’s previous CEO, Yang Hyun-suk, also resigned from his position in June 2019 due to the sex and drug scandals tied to Burning Sun.

Produce 101 Voting Manipulation

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Next, there’s the Produce 101 season 2 voting manipulation scandal! The scandal started when the fans found out about the differences between voting sessions. The boy-group X1 was formed from the third season of Produce 101, and the lineup was formed from the mixture of online voting and text voting.

After the final episodes of Produce 101, the fans found out that there was a big difference on voting calculation, they were compared the voting from the winning trainees. Then, suspicions arose that there was manipulation of the text voting. The speculation from fans was denied by Mnet, the official network of Produce 101.

Mnet stated that there was no manipulation from the survival show, even though they knew that there was suspicion about text voting, but they kept on checking the text voting internally, and found out nothing about that. Eventually, the scandal led to an investigation by Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency’s Cyber Unit, since they received a written request to investigate the scandal.

The suspect was Ahn Joon-young, who was Produce 101‘s Program Director (PD). He admitted that he did manipulate the votes, and he was accused by the local police. The other PD, Kim Young-bum, was also accused by the police. It surprised the viewers, since both of them made victims of the trainees who didn’t win.

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The impact also affected IZ*ONE and X1,  which were born from the Produce 101 franchise previously. IZ*ONE was reported to be canceling their comeback. Some people thought that it was because the voting scandal. Basically, the first season was called Produce 101, the second season was Produce 101 season 2, meanwhile the third season was Produce 48.

Finally, CEO Heo Min-hee of CJ ENM, as the responsible party, made their apology statement and said that they would take full of responsibility for the scandal, as well. He also said that they would gave financial compensation for the manipulation’s victims. Also, IZ*ONE and X1 continued their career. The most important thing Heo Min-hee said is that the next Produce 101 was promised to be more transparant for the voting system, with newest version and neat system.

The SOPA Scandal

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Do you know what SOPA is? It’s one of the most popular schools in South Korea, which has successfully produced a lot of multitalented students and K-Pop idols. SOPA is an abbreviation of Seoul of Performing Arts. Some of the graduates from SOPA include Red Velvet’s Seulgi, Girls Day’s Hyeri, EXO’s Kai and Sehun, NCT’s Jaehyun, BTS’s Jungkook, and many more.

SOPA became a hot topic when the students and the graduates started speaking up about corruption and the degradation of students, all perpetrated by the school’s administration. In February 2017, some SOPA students released a performance video to reveal the scandals in SOPA. SOPA students also were allegedly involved in some of the scandals, such as being forced to do skinship with other people, including soldiers. They were also being forced to give performances in front of the principal with minimal clothes, and to do it privately.

The SOPA students were trying to reveal the scandals through social media, but the principal and others were threatening them and said that all of that was libel. That’s why the SOPA students were making and releasing the performance video to explain everything, even though they knew that it could cause trouble for them. Meanwhile, the corruption scandal was due to the principal and his wife having taken school money totaling US $89,400.

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Then Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education told SOPA to dismiss the principal and the executive parties from SOPA, but they didn’t do that. Despite the investigation, the principal and other parties didn’t show any signs of resigning. Later, the parents of SOPA students also signed a petition to the government to dismiss the SOPA officials.

During the investigation, Seoul Guro Police confiscated some of school’s property, such as chairman’s office and administrative room. It was also reported that the principal of SOPA and his wife were becoming the suspects of the scandal, but they refused to be interviewed with pers.

Due to the scandal, SOPA received a lot of online criticism from the netizens, and people started to lose their trust in the school. However, a lot of people also complimented those students who bravely made performance videos to revealed the crime at their school.

Watch the video of SOPA’s student performance here: