Sexual Harassment Controversy
As mentioned above, midway through filming Produce 101, Ha Min-ho was caught up in allegations of sexual harassment and dating a minor. The show itself prohibits an online presence while being part of the show, yet it is unclear whether the alleged harassment occurred prior to the show or during the show’s early stages.
Everything started with a post made by his alleged ex-girlfriend on the social media platform, Twitter. The girl used an anonymous account, usually referred to by fans as an egg account, to expose Ha Min-ho’s wrongdoings of seducing underage girls and dating them while he was off and on the show. She said that she was not the only one he did this to and there is abundant evidence that shows such behavior across multiple platforms such as Cyworld, Facebook, and Kakao Story, which unfortunately has been deleted prior to his appearance on Produce 101.
Above are some of the screenshots that the alleged girlfriend has saved on her cloud storage in case anything bad ever happens. The screenshots of the chats, done on Facebook messenger, showcase Ha Min-ho who continuously tries to meet up and go on a date with the girl despite there being rules of no going out of the dorms after hours in Produce 101. Not only that but he also seems to know that the girl is still underage while doing so, as he is 20 years old at the time, this part also makes his actions a lot creepier than they need to be.
Above are some more screenshots uploaded by another set of victims online, which rather than Facebook, have been contacted through Instagram, proving the most recent of his activities as to this day he still has not deleted his Instagram. The screenshots show him asking what the girl is doing and if they could meet up alone late at night after she gets home from tutoring. It also mentions him being on Produce 101 and living the general trainee life, and asking her to vote for him, another strike according to Mnet’s Produce 101 rules. The most disturbing point might just be him asking her to meet him at his place late at night for an unspecified activity, leading most to believe that he is sexually harassing the girl.
The aftermath of the scandal led to Ha Min-ho denying all claims done by the victims online by changing his username to that of Yoo Seon-ho, another fellow trainee on the show coming from Cube entertainment. This sparked even more outrage from not only his fans but also Yoo Seon-ho’s fans, as he had mentioned times before that they were close. Not only that, his move seems to be moot as in the previous screenshots his true identity had been captured and his motive behind the chats, possibly tarnishing Yoo Seon-ho’s name to those who have only started to follow the scandal.
After the scandal took over the social media, fans started pulling out and protesting against his appearance on the show. The outrage motivated his agency, The Vibe Label, to release a statement that says:
Hello, this is The Vibe Label,
We are delivering our official stance regarding Ha Min-ho who is currently a trainee on season 2 of Produce 101. First, we would like to apologize to everyone who has loved and supported Produce 101, the trainees on the show, and the production staff. Also, we sincerely apologize to everyone who has been hurt because of Ha Min-ho. After discussing the matter with Ha Min-ho, we have decided that he will be leaving Produce 101 and his contract with our company will be terminated. Ha Min-ho is deeply reflecting on the scandal he has created as a trainee. As for changing his name to ‘Yoo Seon-ho’ and leaving, it was not to target Cube trainee Yoo Seon-ho, but a misunderstanding caused by joking with friends. The Vibe Label will do our best to make sure another accident like this doesn’t happen again and manage our trainees (Kim Tae-dong, Sung Hyun-woo). Once again, we apologize to everyone who has been hurt because of this.
Adding to the statement above, Ha Min-ho also uploaded his own apology and statement to his personal Instagram account, reading:
Hello, this is former season 2 of Produce 101 contestant Ha Min-ho.
First of all, I sincerely apologize to everyone who has been hurt by the recent controversy. I feel responsible for my improper behavior so I am taking the time to reflect on my actions. I’m sorry for causing so much trouble.
In middle school and high school, I was an immature student who lacked consideration for others. I was just a big frog in a small pond that lived in his own little world. I bragged that I did music, and I thought of myself very highly whenever I was praised for being in a dance group. I also acted rashly every time I was romantically interested in someone.
These immature actions continued on even after I joined Produce 101. I said some inappropriate things to my fans and I was so focused on trying to gain love and popularity instead of reflecting on whether I even deserved this love. After reading people’s comments on my social media accounts, I realized how hurt and angry they were, and I had sleepless nights for a few weeks because I was so ashamed.
However, it is not true that I changed my Facebook account name to ‘Yoo Seon-ho’ to target the trainee. I did not talk dirty, verbally harass, or ostracize anyone in middle school. I never called a female student a slut, and I did not sexually harass or try to sleep with a student much younger than me. These are false accusations, but I am still holding responsibility for everything since they have all stemmed from my mistakes.
I am very sorry to those who had voted for me, and I apologize to the Mnet staff for causing disruption to their program. I will self-reflect for the rest of my life. However, I do want to say that I have received quite a few defaming comments based on misunderstandings.
I will try my best to become a more careful and mature person. Thank you for reading my long message.
Sincerely, Ha Min Ho.