It's easy for Korean celebrities to get dragged into controversy, but the Korean public are especially harsh on female K-pop idols. Over the past year or so, it's become an increasingly scary trend for netizens to attack female stars until their image is ruined and career is damaged, while the Korean media almost always fans the flames to cash in on the website traffic. It started with T-ara's bullying scandal in July of last year, which was initially caused by a few simple tweets and ended up taking T-ara from one of the most powerful groups in the country to the most hated overnight. IU followed in November when she accidentally tweeted a photo of herself wearing pyjamas next to a member of popular boy band, Super Junior. The general consensus was that her image as "the nation's little sister" was fake and something she concocted to sell records, causing the 20-year-old to retreat from the public eye for several months to let the heat die down. SECRET's Hyosung was next when she was accused of being a member of a controversial right-wing forum called Ilbe after she accidentally misused the word, "democratization," in a radio interview, which netizens somehow used as a way to link her to the forum -- despite having no real proof or evidence to do so. Rookie group, Crayon Pop, were pulled in a similar scandal a few months later and branded "ilbe bugs" by netizens, who even went as far as to boycott a website the group is currently endorsing.
The latest group to get pulled into a scandal is KARA, who are now being called "the new T-ara" following a controversial appearance on the popular talk show, Radio Star. Their behaviour was considered rude and disrespectful following several incidents, including Hara crying and playfully throwing a water bottle after being grilled about some dating rumours by one of the hosts, and Jiyoung getting embarrassed and crying after being pressured to do "aegyo" (cute facial expressions). Seungyeon was also criticized for defending a tearful Hara, and also for the way she explained herself when questioned about criticism she received for her acting in a recent TV series.
KARA's agency and two of the three members involved in the drama have already issued formal apologies, but it's done nothing to quell the backlash. Vicious anti-KARA comments from netizens are receiving thousands of up-votes on Korean news websites, including: "Fuck off KARA, you dogs," "Yeah, you guys are over," "Never did I imagine that KARA would be taking T-ara's spot," and "I hate them so much."
The group's new single, "Damaged Lady," was already severely under-performing on the charts before this happened, so the timing is terrible. Additionally, their latest Japanese album, Fantastic Girls, just bagged them their lowest first-week sales and lowest chart position for a studio album in Japan to date. This is an enormous drop from just two years ago, when KARA was simultaneously one of the biggest groups in both Korea and Japan.
One scandal isn't enough to count KARA out for good, though. They're still one of the longest-running K-pop groups around and are currently in the middle of signing a fresh contract with their record label. Sometimes hitting rock bottom can help a celebrity because it gives them something to come back from, so don't be surprised if KARA relaunches next year with a whole new style and image.
[Via Netizen Buzz]