While a list of female celebrities allegedly involved in prostitution has been circulating for the past week, some of those named — including a number of K-pop girl group singers — are vehemently protesting the rumours in an unprecedented string of public statements.
Last Saturday, Yubin of girl group Wonder Girls issued a statement via her agency, JYP Entertainment, calling the rumours “completely false” and vowing to take legal action against those circulating the list. Subin of girl group Dal Shabet followed suit the next day. On Monday, Yang Ji-won of girl group Spica also released a statement decrying the rumours, as did actresses Kang So-ra, Nam Bo-ra and Shin Se-kyung, who each released a statement the same day.
The immediate and aggressive response by the stars appears to be prompted in part by the impact the rumours may have on their global fans, as K-pop entertainers are increasingly reaching out overseas.
“Dal Shabet performed in Japan last week, and is scheduled to appear in Taiwan next week,” a public relations representative for Happy Face Entertainment, the girl group’s label, told The Korea Herald in a phone interview Wednesday. “(The list) may not spread as quickly abroad as in Korea, but we are still worried how it might affect our overseas activities if it were to reach global fans.”
Another major concern was the lightning speed at which the list spread through messenger apps and social media, said the representative, who wished to be identified only by her surname, Kim.
“The list reached so many people and the real names of all the celebrities were revealed so openly,” said Kim. “People began to take it for granted that the rumours were true, when they are absolutely false. That’s why we decided to react aggressively.”
The list in question features the names of 10 female entertainers — including actresses, singers and trainees — and the fees they allegedly receive for engaging in prostitution. The list began circulating after two brokers were arrested last month on charges of arranging prostitution deals between Korean female entertainers and clients abroad.
Prosecutors subsequently began an investigation of four entertainers alleged to have been involved in the prostitution scheme run by the two arrested brokers. Among the investigated was a well-known singer who confessed to receiving some 35 million won (US$30,100 or S$41,200) in return for providing sex to a Korean-American businessman and an unnamed member of a K-pop girl group.
“The list began to spread around the time these events took place,” said an entertainment industry insider who wished to remain anonymous. “That timing has caused many to think that those on the list are guilty, which is extremely unfair.”
“These types of rumours are fatal for female girl group members, which is why we reacted immediately.” the source added.