The world of K-pop isn’t new to controversies. Even so, it’s still shocking to hear that Soojin is leaving (G)I-dle after a five-month break following bullying allegations. Just shortly after the announcement, her image was already taken down from (G)I-dle’s webpage. The surprising news is the latest instance of an idol leaving their group after being embroiled in a scandal, but this time, it’s particularly divisive. What exactly happened? We’re here to catch you up. Here’s what you need to know about Soojin’s departure from (G)I-dle.
Controversies and allegations
Before it was announced that Soojin is leaving (G)I-dle, she has been on a hiatus since March 2021 after several allegations that she was bullying classmates during her school years in Waw Middle School surfaced. On an anonymous online forum, Soojin’s accuser posted that her younger sibling was violently bullied by the K-pop star and wrote that while she feels bad for the other members of (G)I-dle for speaking up, she can no longer keep her silence as she watches a bully be idolised.
Afterwards, several stories about Soojin’s “bad girl” behaviour in school also began popping up; this includes accusations that she defaced a classmate’s coat with a marker, scolded a peer in gym class, forced a friend to memorise a choreography for their graduation, smoked, drank a lot of alcohol and “rode a motorcycle” (a deed that’s seen as mischievous and dangerous especially for children).
But what added fuel to the fire was a statement on Instagram from High Kick Through The Roof actress Seo Shin Ae claiming that she was also a victim of bullying and was ostracised throughout her school years. While she didn’t name the perpetrator, netizens put two and two together and recognised that the details point to Soojin. Seo Shin Ae wrote in a now deleted-post that this bully insulted her behind her back which caused her pain.
While Soojin admits to smoking and drinking alcohol, she denies everything else and maintains that she’s never ridden a motorcycle nor perpetrated any violence — mental, physical or emotional — against her classmates. Soojin’s agency Cube Entertainment also provided a statement that refutes all accusations after an investigation was done. So it came as quite a surprise when news broke that Soojin is leaving (G)I-dle without a formal explanation.
The aftermath Soojin leaving (G)I-dle was met with disappointment within the fandom and the fans blamed Cube Entertainment for mishandling the situation and not taking care of their talent. A petition called Justice For Soojin has been signed by over 159,000 netizens as of this writing.
soojin IS a member of gidle, gidle has six members and soojin IS one of them, soojin IS and WILL forever be a member of gidle— ree 🌻 (@synvurr) August 14, 2021
Some of her more enraged fans poured their frustrations on Seo Shin Ae and stormed her social media with comments, blaming her for Soojin leaving (G)I-dle.
It’s not the first time that a K-pop idol faced accusations of school bullying. A while back, Stray Kids’ Hyunjin was also accused of being verbally abusive and his agency, JYP Entertainment, responded by putting him on hiatus to “reflect on his actions”. After apologising through a handwritten letter uploaded on the group’s official Instagram account and meeting with his victim to personally express regret over his past actions, Hyunjin was able to stay in the group and bounced back.
Although some doubt that Soojin would still be able to make a comeback, you can’t discount its possibility. When all's said and done, we can’t deny that we love a good redemption story.
(Cover photo from: commons.wikimedia.org)
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