The Korea Herald


T-ara’s Ji-yeon shelves album release amid reignited bullying controversy

By Yoon Min-sik

Published : Feb. 13, 2017 - 17:43

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T-ara’s Ji-yeon will postpone the release of her second solo album, her agency said Monday, after an internet posting by a self-proclaimed former staff member of the agency reignited a years-old bullying dispute.

MBK Entertainment told local media that Ji-yeon’s album release has been put on hold “in order to avoid a misunderstanding about a certain member (of T-ara) leaving the band.” 

Ji-yeon of T-ara (MBK Entertainment) Ji-yeon of T-ara (MBK Entertainment)

“(The delay) is not 100 percent due to the controversy, but we do not want to raise suspicion that we’re using it to promote our album,” the agency’s official said. The album was expected to be released sometime in late March or early April.

The controversy refers to bullying rumors involving members of the popular group and its former member Ryu Hwa-young. In 2012, rumors surfaced of Hwayoung being mistreated by her bandmates, even being forced to perform on her injured leg.

She left the group shortly afterwards.

Hwa-young and her twin sister Hyo-young -- who are both focusing mainly on acting now -- appeared in a local TV show last Wednesday to discuss the incident.

But a person claiming to be a former staff member of the MBK Entertainment who worked there in 2012 -- then called Core Contents Media -- claimed after the show that Hwa-young was far from an innocent victim.

The person claimed in an internet posting that Hwa-young faked an injury and wore a cast, despite being cleared by a doctor. It was also alleged that the singer refused to perform during a concert in Japan and instead asked to get her nails done at the hotel.

After several of the members publicly berated her on the social media service, the supposed staff member said the singer’s sister Hyo-young had also sent threatening message to a member A-reum, who is no longer part of the band. As proof, the self-described staff member uploaded a photo of the text messages sent by Hyo-young, which threatened physical violence against A-reum.

Hyo-young’s agency BAM Company confirmed the legitimacy of the messages, and said that they were not threats but words of concern from a family member.

Representatives of Hwa-young have yet to comment on the issue, nor has the MBK Entertainment.

By Yoon Min-sik