The controversy began when five members of the group on Saturday left tweets in unison apparently critical of Hwayoung’s attitude, giving an impression that she may have been bullied by fellow group members. On Monday, the group‘s management agency, Core Content Media, announced a decision to terminate its contract with Hwayoung, calling her troublesome.
Despite the agency’s denial of the bullying rumors, the abrupt announcement sparked public speculation that it may be linked to the rumors.
Backed by a series of claims by those close to Hwayoung that she was bullied, this speculation led to mounting demand by her fans to unveil the truth behind the incident.
The case caught wide media attention in a country where rising suicides by students bullied by their classmates constitutes a major social problem.
“I‘m sorry for giving only disappointment to you, fans who loved me,” Hwayoung said on her personal twitter account on Tuesday. “Now please stop and expect a more mature and developed attitude from me.”
In a reversal from her earlier comments, she also apologized to the company for “causing trouble.”
The apology may defuse confusion among T-ara fans over the incident, but the group, still reeling from the bullying controversy, is unlikely to easily recover.
T-ara’s official fan club “Queen‘s” has lost about 6,000 members since the controversy erupted, while some other online fan communities have turned on the group, which is at the center of K-pop’s popularity in the world.
On Sunday, an Internet community “T-Jinyo,” which stands for “We demand the truth from T-ara,” opened. The number of subscribers to the community quickly broke the 250,000 mark just two days after opening. The number is massively larger than the official fan club‘s 16,000.
The girl group on Wednesday postponed an upcoming performance following the controversy.
“T-ara will put off its first solo performance set to open at Seoul‘s Jamsil stadium on Aug. 11 and reschedule it within this year,” the entertainment agency said in a release.