There’s another huge scandal in the South Korean entertainment world and it involves a series of illicit sex videos. In the past week, three K-pop stars announced their retirement after admitting to sharing and watching the said videos.
Jung Joon-young confessed he had shared videos of several women, which were taken without their consent, to an online group chat. One of the members was allegedly Big Bang’s Seungri, who was suspected and charged with soliciting prostitutes to bribe business investors. He also announced his retirement once the controversy came to light.
“I admit to all my crimes. I filmed women without their consent and shared it in a social media chatroom, and while I did so I didn’t feel a great sense of guilt,” Joon-young said in a statement. “More than anything, I kneel and apologize to the women who appear in the videos who have learned of this hideous truth as the incident has come to light, and to the many people who must be angry at the situation over which they cannot contain their disappointment and astonishment.”
Another star who admitted to seeing these videos was Highlight’s Yong Jun-hyung. He said that he’d received a video that was recorded by another star in the industry, and that he’d engaged in “inappropriate conversations” about it. “All these behaviors were extremely unethical, and I was stupid,” he wrote on Instagram. “I’ll leave Highlight since I realized the seriousness of the issue and don’t want it to bring further damage to my fans.”
This incident reminds me of how PUA Academy creeps—er, members would allegedly post illicit photos of the women they’ve slept with on secret Facebook groups. Those who’ve seen the posts say these men would go so far as rate their partners and the comments would range from objectifying to degrading.
We haven’t seen this alleged group chat that Joon-young mentioned, but we already know that it’s unacceptable, especially knowing the fact that the women didn’t consent to these videos. What’s equally disturbing is the fact that Korean actresses and singers are coming forward to deny that were part of the illicit videos. This happened after fans started speculating on who the women are in these videos. Inquirer.net cited scholars and women’s rights activists who said that being identified in an offense like this “is seen as a threat to a woman’s status shows the enduring presence of traditional values and the tendency to blame victims in South Korea.”
Women, especially victims of sexual harassment and abuse, shouldn’t bear the burden of fault of what these men have done. And sadly, their agencies don’t seem to be helping them. Activist Kang Min-jin said, “In an ideal world, women wouldn’t worry about getting their reputation ruined for matters like these. And for the K-pop agencies, they are worried about getting their reputation ruined because they think about female singers as their products. They are worried that their products will no longer be marketable.”
This attitude toward the women in the K-pop industry is a result of South Korea’s conservatism. It’s unfortunate because they are the victims in this scenario. Meanwhile, some of the men who’ve admitted to their involvement are getting away with simply retiring from showbiz.
Instead of directing blame at the women, fans should call on the authorities to investigate the men involved and to find the truth—not point fingers at the wrong people.