Girls' Generation is the biggest girl group in Asia --possibly the world-- and a lot of their success in the East rests on their squeaky clean reputation. The ninesome rarely run into scandal, and their image is so strong that the recent revelation that two of the members have boyfriends (something that's often frowned upon in the K-pop scene) didn't damage the group one bit.
However, all that could change now that one of the group's members, Kim Hyoyeon, has just been questioned by police over a mishap that ended with one of her male friends reporting her to the popo for assault.
According to reports, Hyoyeon and the male friend (we'll just call him 'B') were at a mutual friend's apartment in Seoul when the incident took place just after midnight.
They say that Hyoyeon jokingly said, "I'm going to fall to the first floor," and acted like she was about to follow through with it. 'B' tried to stop her and ended up getting hit in the eye during the clash. Angry, 'B' went straight to the Yongsan District Police Department and reported her, and the pair were investigated the next day.
Once at the station, 'B' said they were just "playing around" and that Hyoyeon didn't purposely hit him, and policed ruled it as a misunderstanding after seeing that he wasn't injured.
Girls' Generation's label, SM Entertainment, has since released an official statement on the matter.
"Member Hyoyeon was with her acquaintances when she was joking around and hit a friend when their joking around went too far, and a misunderstanding arose. This situation came about when the incident was reported to the police station. She and the other party immediately resolved their misunderstanding and the incident has been concluded as a simple 'happening'. They were told not to play around too harshly by the police, and she will be careful not to do anything that will cause misunderstanding in the future."
Although this should probably be the end of the whole thing, the story has become a hot topic in the Korean media and Korean netizens are already speculating (as they tend to do) that there's more to what happened than has been said. The main theories are that the pair are actually dating and got into a physical fight, or that Hyoyeon tried to commit suicide because the other Girls' Generation members are bullying her (suicide is the main cause of death for people under 40 in South Korea).
The issue here isn't that the netizens could be right --they're notorious for spreading malicious gossip, already destroying the reputation of once-popular girl group T-ara with bullying rumours before trying to do the same to other groups like Girl's Day-- but that this incident could snowball into something much bigger. While it's perfectly plausible that there could be more to Hyoyeon's incident than what's been publicly revealed, there's currently no real evidence to support anything other than what the police have stated.
You can never really tell if a K-pop scandal is going to pass by quickly or if it'll turn into a juggernaut fuelled by endless sensationalism and witch-hunting netizens. The latter has already happened to the likes of T-ara, IU, and SECRET's Hyosung, with all three taking a hit in sales and public support after their scandals broke.
With Girls' Generation due to drop a new album later this year, hopefully Hyoyeon's incident will blow over in a few days. I'd like to know more about what happened, but if it's all just unfounded netizen gossip, I'll pass.