These past couple of months have been one hell of a ride for girl group T-ara. It’s seems like since the first sign of the blazing summer sun, the heat has not only been bringing out my tan but also embroiling T-ara in a whirlwind of chaos.

At first, the closing of the “Lovey Dovey” promotions left T-ara drawn out and withering on exhaustion, and many of the girls took to voicing their woes publicly. In the short time they ventured out on a break however, CEO Kim Kwang Soo aka the K-pop devil in my opinion of Core Contents Media had announced that over the course of the latter half of the year, two new members would be added to T-ara, leaving many fans confused, frustrated, and even angry.

When T-ara made their summer comeback with the long awaited futuristic drama “Day by Day,” they didn’t even have much of a foot in the door before member Hwayoung was X-ed out of the picture, quite literally over night. Suddenly, allegations of in-group bullying exploded on the internet, KKS himself was issuing contradictory statement after contradictory statement, and T-ara was falling apart right before our eyes.

Many initially thought the reason behind Hwayoung’s contract termination lay in some of the members of T-ara vaguely worded tweets that rung out it disappointment about Hwayoung. This occurred after Hwayoung was unable to perform at one of the music stages due to an injured leg, leaving the other members to pick up the slack in a hot minute. Then the story got even more complex as KKS issued an official statement about how the member’s frustrations had nothing to do with Hwayoung’s termination–in fact, he even went so far as to assert that their Twitter accounts had been hacked and the vaguely punitive tweets were not the member’s own. In fact, according to CCM’s testimony, Hwayoung had been voted out of the group as per the censure of T-ara’s entire staff, leaving the other member’s opinions disregarded.

In the end, however, all the excuses that had been given were, at least to me, a cluster of conflicting and unclear statements that did a poor job addressing the controversy as well as explaining why Hwayoung had been kicked out T-ara. In fact, here was so much press breaking, on top of countless mistranslations and misinterpretations going around, that the entire Seoulbeats staff gathered to discuss what we eventually labeled the T-ara Debacle in attempts to find some point of clarity.

Many of us, fans and on-lookers alike, despise what has happened. Some of us have picked sides and even abandoned the other, but no one really knows who was in the right and who was the wrong. If the bullying rumors were true, if Hwayoung’s arrogance and ignorance were very real character flaws–no one was sure. Some on the internet, though, have taken fancy to renaming Hwayoung as ‘Hwasshole,’ to I guess better relay their bitter sentiments.


Blame game and the half-assed statements from KKS and CCM aside, though, nothing was or is going to change the fact that Hwayoung is no longer a part of T-ara. And for all that’s been said to spite T-ara or CCM, we’ve done little to consider what is is exactly just happened to Hwayoung’s, this young woman’s, career.

Yes, as long time T-ara fan, I’ll admit to having a dismissive attitude towards Hwayoung. She was a post-debut addition that I felt added absolutely no new dynamic to the group. I honestly thought she was a dead weight rapper that has been added to bulk up the T-ara roster. At the same time however, she didn’t exactly the negate any effect T-ara had on me. Hwayoung may have been lackluster to me, yet I still adored T-ara nonetheless.

But even from coming from a fan like myself, who was rather indifferent about Hwayoung all around, I still can’t help but feel that she has been met with great injustice. Kids, teens, and young adults throw their lives away, abandon normalcy, in pursuit of the idoldom. They forsake their families, their friends, their privacy, and many of their freedoms in order to gamble their futures on a hit-or-miss shot at success. And to see a young idol become blacklisted the way CCM has blacklisted Hwayoung, watch her career become nonexistent over a vote of a handful of staff members; I just can’t help but feel Hwayoung has been wronged by the K-pop machine, the very machine she sold her soul to.

Earlier today, Hwayoung posted a few tweets expressing her sadness and remorse of the T-ara implosion.

이번 은정언니 드라마하차기사를 접하고마음이좋지만은 않았습니다. 티아라활동을하면서 멤버들과 의견차로인해 대립이있었던건 사실이지만 이로인해 왕따설이돌고 상황이악화된사실들에 마음이 아팠습니다. 또한 서로 왜곡된사실들로 인해 상처받아 많이속상했습니다.

I feel sad when I read the news about Eunjung unnie has been replaced from her drama. Yes, during last month concert the member are having the conflict and differences opinion in the group but I don’t get it why netizen twisted the story into bullying issue and spread the false rumor. It did a big damage to me and T-ara, we are having really really hard time of this. I am really upset and hurt by this distorted false rumor.

하지만 한솥밥을먹고 지내며 행복했던날들도있었기에 지난일은 잊고 이젠다시웃는얼굴로 서로를응원하며 지내고싶습니다. 티아라를 많이사랑해주시고 아껴주시고 찾아주셨는데 이번사건때문에 여러분들에게 많은 심려와 걱정끼쳐드려 죄송했습니다.

I will never forget the memories of being happy together as T-ara member, I hope everything will be wash away and we can finally put our smile on our faces. Lets us all hwaiting! Last I would love to say thanks for showing me and T-ara support and love, this incident has been giving you guys a big trouble and I am sorry to let you guys down… I am sorry

I know everyone just wants to put this issue to rest, and move on with their real lives. But there is something genuinely disheartening about Hwayoung’s message.

When things go awry in the idol world, it almost all too easy to blame the idols themselves, and that because that’s all we as fans really see. We don’t see interactions behind the scenes, we don’t know what happens amongst the staff, we don’t really know what’s going on in idols’ personal lives: we don’t know anything to be true except for the picture perfect, airbrushed image of our idols beaming before us. So when mayhem hit the fans, we have no one else to turn to blame except the idols under scrutiny. But how can we be so sure that the idols and the idols alone are to blame for what happens to the bigger picture?

In regard to the T-ara controversy, none of us will truly know whether the bullying accusations were true, to what degree discord erupted among the staff, or even if anything KKS had to say was actually legitimate (I doubt it, but that’s because I hate KKS and CCM with a flaming passion). In short, who really is to blame will always be unclear. The only one taking the blame, however, is Hwayoung. And her career is over. Everything she abandoned in pursuit of T-ara, all of it was abandoned to reach this unsightly demise.

I’m not trying to sit here and whine to all about how unfair this is. Rather, I’m making this stand in order to emphasize that even though Hwayoung appears to be largely at fault, she may not be entirely to blame. Mismanagement and corruption are two things alive in well in the K-pop industry, and CCM and KKS are no exceptions to these flaws. How do we know that CCM didn’t have hand in brewing the fiasco that is this reality? How do we know that the girls were treated fairly and attended to accordingly and righteously? How do we know that T-ara and Hwayoung are the only two fronts in this conflict? We don’t. Plain and simple. But watching Hwayoung publicly admit remorse for all of it makes me sick, because I firmly believe there are more people behind the scenes that had to do with what has happened to T-ara.

T-ara, on the other hand, have recently issued their own apologies concerning the issue. They, in my opinion, belatedly deliver some sort acknowledgement and closure on the matter, but I can’t still help but feel a bit bitter.

We sincerely apologize for acting thoughtlessly. We’ve been troubled every day by the thought that all of this could’ve been avoided if we had understood each other and compromised more and if we had acted more maturely…We also think that Hwayoung has been going through a very hard time after being misunderstood as [ostracized]. We were surprised by the outcome, which no one thought of or wanted, and we’re disappointed that we can’t all be together now. We only hope that Hwayoung will no longer face [hurtful things like this].

I would love to sit here and gripe about how the entertainment world is also being unfair to T-ara (because, it’s true, T-ara’s aftermath hasn’t been all that much sweeter) but the members of T-ara are merely stuck in a rut. They still have their careers and names in tact, and the smoke surrounding them will eventually clear like all controversy eventually does.

The same, however, cannot be said for Hwayoung. What happens with her next, no one can really say. Instead, she is the last one left picking up the pieces of a catastrophe that was certainly not her entire doing, while T-ara releases official apologies and make plans to keep moving ahead. Hwayoung, however, has said her apologies, and will head into a bout of uncertainty.

In addressing Hwayoung’s side of the controversy, however, I’m not blaming T-ara either. Like I mentioned before, there is more to this than what we’ve been made aware of, and to place the blame solely on Hwayoung, or even solely on T-ara, is unjustified. Especially so when much of we we’re trying to make sense of is not within our realm of concrete knowledge. But to allow Hwayoung to be the figurehead of all the bad done unto T-ara is also wholesomely unjustified. At the same time, as a result of the nature of the matter as well ass the media, it is a fate she must accept.

It’s a sorry end. And its makes me sorry that one young woman, robbed of her career and namesake and all her hard work, has become synonymous with so much chaos. In the end, I want to wish both T-ara and Hwayoung well, and I pray that this ugly unraveling can find new horizons for both the group and Hwayoung herself. There really is nothing else a well-wisher could want. It’s been a terribly bumpy ride in so far this summer, but hopefully both sides of this debacle can come out with their heads still held high.

Oh, and for those of you in the internet world who have taken a fancy to calling Hwayoung  ‘Hwasshole,’ I just don’t even know what to say other than grow up. Her career and her face value have been handed back to her like commodities that have lost their worth, and she’s no more with T-ara. If anyone is an asshole here, it’s the person kicking the fallen down even further. And KKS.


(Hwayoung’s Twitter, MyT-ara, Nate, NaverNewsen, Message published to Tumblr)