Former Stellar Member Gayoung: Departure From the Group and the Non-Consensual Sexy Concept in the ‘Marionette’ Era

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Ex-Member of Stellar Ga-young and Her Stories

Do you remember Ga-young? She used to be a member of Stellar from 2011 to 2017. have you also ever heard about the girl group Stellar and their controversial sexy concept Ga-young decided to speak about it and finally told the truth. She has had a long run on the journey of her career in the entertainment industry. What actually happened back then when Stellar changed the concept? What is Ga-young doing recently? In this article, Channel-Korea will give you a rundown of everything about Ga-young’s profile and stories in Stellar and her career and life after the departure from Stellar.

Profile and Facts About Ga-young

Full Profile

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Ga-young was born on December 2nd, 1991, in Seoul, South Korea with the name Kim Ga-young. Her weight is 48 kg and her height is 170 cm. She is O blood-typed girl and her sign is Sagittarius. She graduated from Sungkyunwan University and majored in Dance. She used to be a singer and member of Stellar (the leader, vocalist, and visual) but now is active as an actress and she is running a cafe.

Interesting Facts

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  • Ga-young was featured in music videos like Teen Top’s “Supa Luv” and PURE’s “Wedding Day.”
  • She likes to dance and go shopping.
  • She was one of the two original members of Stellar since debut along with Jeon-yul and they left the group together at the same time as their contract ended.
  • She made her first appearance in 1 Night 2 Days tour viewer as Gugak High-school girl and drew a lot of attention.
  • She was scouted by her agency Top Class Entertainment (which later its name to The Entertainment Pascal) to be an actress and made her acting debut in Spy Myeongwol. However, the agency wanted her to dance and sing as well so she later debuted as a member of Stellar.

Debut with Stellar

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After joining The Entertainment Pascal and debuting as an actress, Ga-young and the other three, (the rookie Jeon-yul, and the ex-members of Honeydew, JoA and Leesul) debuted as a girl group called Stellar. They made their debut on August 28th, 2011, by releasing the digital single “Rocket Girl.” They drew a lot of attention because they were initially produced by Shinhwa’s Eric. Yet that didn’t last long and they weren’t successful as they hoped for. On January 26th, 2012, the agency announced that the duo ex-Honeydew, JoA and Leesul, were leaving the group and would be replaced by Min-hee and Hyeo-eun. Ga-youg became the leader of the group after the duo left. They then made their first comeback with another track “UFO.” On July 11th, 2013, they released their third digital single “Study” and it was the first time the single broke through the Top 100 on Gaon charts

They reached their peak was when they released ‘Marionette.” The song is considered to be very controversial but became their best selling single and made Stellar more popular. Three years after that, Ga-young and Jeon-yul announced their departure from Stellar. The agency added two other members and kept continuing until Min-hee and Hyeo-eun decided to leave too. Stellar was later officially disbanded on February 28th, 2018.

Controversies Surrounding “Marionette” and Their Sexy Concepts

Stellar had been doing the cute-girls concept with all the first three digital singles. However, they didn’t manage to get the fame and success they had hoped for. The agency was almost broke down and started to have financial issues because of their loss from the unsuccessful digital singles. They then made a change in the group’s concept into a more “provocative” one.

On February 12th, 2014, Stellar released their first extended play Marionette. They also released a music video and finally managed to attract a lot of attention. It was their best selling single which peaked at #35 on Gaon Chart and #34 on Billboard K-Pop Hot 100. However, there is always a story behind it. In the music video, they acted 180 degrees different from the last ones. They became sexier and danced more suggestive choreographies. They wore much more revealing outfits and were shown in some ambiguous images too. The music video received many comments and was criticized for its 19+ content. Netizens assumed the sexy concept was only to boost their fame and to get more attention as a tactic of marketing.

The criticizing started to uncover some messages on Stellar’s official Facebook page. Those were shared by the agency and were meant to get them closer with the fans. As cited by Soompi, on January 13th, 2014, they made the Facebook page and named it Oppa, I will do everything you tell me to – Marionette. After they made the page, they shared a message asking the fans to choose a song and promised to shoot a sexy dance video. The most voted track was Gary’s “Shower Later” that was known for its suggestive lyrics.

As cited by Soompi, another message was shared on February 4th, 2014, along with a picture, “We will need oppa‘s help to reveal our marionette.^^ The more likes our page gets, the more you will see of the marionette’s sexy and charming looks. Please also tag oppas who will help us. The enthusiastic response, we can expect it, right? Okay, let’s go.”

The group actually started to get criticized when they released their first teaser photo with revealing lingerie and acting flirty in front of the camera. The critics kept going and increased dramatically once they released the music video. They met with even harsher criticism after their comeback stage when they wore overly revealing outfits on stage. Netizens thought it was way too inappropriate to promote a girl group.

Stories Behind The Sexy Concept

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In December 2018, Ga-young opened up about the real story behind the sexy concept during the Marionette era in an interview with Insight. Soompi cited the interview and explained how she and the members were forced to do the sexy concept back then and had no idea that the music video would turn out that provocative. There was a controversial scene where a member spilled some milk. Ga-young said that she was instructed to drink milk and spilled some. The members thought maybe because it was in the morning so she (the character) drank milk and she was so exhausted so she spilled some. Later the member found out about what it meant through the comments and realized that the scene could be evoking a certain image. She was shocked and traumatized that she didn’t want to drink white milk and considering she was only twenty years old back then, it hurt her really bad.

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Another story was told by Ga-young when they were preparing for a comeback with “Vibrato.” On the day of the photo shoot, they were told to wear revealing outfits. The members refused to wear at first saying it was impossible to dance with those outfits. The agency only insisted them to wear the outfits by saying, “Just try them on. Why would you say no without even trying them on?” The members ended up wearing them and took five or so photos. When they saw the results, they were convinced that the outfits were too much. The agency said okay and told them to change into something else. However, the agency ended up using the photos with the revealing outfit instead.

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After the teaser photo was released, the members called the agency, as she recalled, and asked what was going on. The agency replied, “You didn’t know? Okay, then we won’t do that kind of thing from now on.” Ga-young realized that there was nothing that they could do because the photos had already been released. “I think they knew that all of the members were too nice and innocent [to argue],” she added with a sad smile.

Ga-young also explained about the contract with the agency. Whenever they said they didn’t want to do this or that, the agency would remind them about the contract. She said that she was still young and thought if she refused to do that, she would have to pay the penalty fee and everything would be difficult for her.

The former leader of the group also showed her regret towards the people that seemed to only remember her in association with Stellar and controversial concepts. Even though they had three digital singles before and released music with other concepts, they didn’t get much attention as if it just went unnoticed. The aftermath of the controversies also came to their respective families. According to the interview, Ga-young said that whenever people asked her parents about their daughter, they answered that their daughter was in Stellar. “People would look us up and see only shocking photos of us. People would ask them, ‘Why is your daughter doing this kind of thing?’ I felt so sorry,” Ga-young said.

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In another occasion, Ga-young said that she and the members often found it hard to escape their provocative image. People had already associated them with those images that it was not surprising if the members did something inappropriate even though they didn’t actually do that. For example, Ga-young explained, there’s nothing wrong with going to a club but if there was a female group with an innocent concept, people would respond like, “No way!” or something like that. But if that happened to Stellar members, people would respond as if the members were used to doing that. “And when people heard that none of our members smoked, they would respond, ‘That’s definitely not what I would have expected.’ It seems like people have the idea that ‘[STELLAR] looks like they would enjoy those kinds of things,” she added. She wanted to convince the people that she’s not that kind of person. Yet just because of one concept, it seemed that the world has seen her as that type of person.

The interview ended with the last question, which was: if Ga-young happened to travel back in time, would she choose to become a Stellar member. She answered with a smile and teary eyes, “No, I don’t think I would do it again.”

You can watch the full video of her interview below!