As we all know, time doesn’t pass in K-pop-land without a scandal occurring every now and then. And in a lot of these scandals, the drama and gossip eventually lead to an official statement from the concerned company, in its attempt to defend the subject (or subjects). However, official statements can sometimes dig even deeper holes for these ‘victims,’ as the more desperate the company is to defend and deny, the more guilty the person in question appears to be. Based on some recent accounts, it seems that some companies still have a lot to learn in terms of when and how to release a statement. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some examples of what companies should (and shouldn’t) have done in response to their scandals.
Back in September, a Japanese gossip magazine printed a story about Big Bang‘s Seungri’s sex life, featuring some close-up pictures of him sleeping shirtless in a bed. All this material came from a women who had supposedly slept with Seungri while in Japan, and who had disclosed some of his questionable bedroom habits to the magazine. Recalling the period in which the goss was being broken, I’m quite certain some of us out there were anticipating YG’s take on the matter.
What did YG do then? Absolutely nothing. They didn’t even bother to acknowledge that the article existed, much less confirm Seungri’s identity in the photos or deny any of the rumors. And they nipped a would-be, spiralling-out-of-control rumor, in the bud — case-closed. Addressing the claims of some random woman in Japan would not only draw more attention to the rumors, but it would’ve inadvertently revealed YG’s deep concerns over the incident. In reality, it’s a fact that Seungri deserves his own privacy, and that the personal goings-on behind his bedroom doors should be off-limits. And with any consensual activity between partners, any actions undertaken should be accountable by two persons (or more, if that applies). With that in mind, Seungri’s private endeavours should bear no relevance to his public career. Given the circumstances of modern society, and consequently, the intertwining of pop culture, this idea can be a tricky one to contend with. However, picturing the Seungri’s career and the mature image that Big Bang’s taken on, this “controversial behaviour” should be inflicting insignificant blows to his career and image, and much less of that of the boy group. In this case, it can be said that YG had taken the smart, quick and easy PR route; to make the situation a non-issue and one that isn’t worth the company’s time and resources. As a result, despite the harmless taunts made at Seungri for his “bedroom antics”, the guy has managed to walk away quite unscathed.
IU and Eunhyuk Scandal
By the time IU realized she had accidentally tweeted a selca of her in pajamas with a shirtless Eunhyuk, it was too late – the picture had already caught the attention of hawk-eyed K-poppers from around the globe. K-pop’s innocent little sister getting caught in a semi-risqué picture with Super Junior’s Anchovy? If that didn’t have scandal written all over it, then I’m really clueless as to what it might’ve meant.
What did the labels do? LOEN‘s mission then was to flat-out deny all points. The label went to ridiculous lengths to do so, saying Eunhyuk was visiting a sick IU and that the picture was taken when they were sitting on a couch. I really don’t know about LOEN but I for one am pretty sure that none of us common folk were duped into believing that for one second. Apart from being a cover-up that screams “Guilty!”, LOEN’s repeated persuasions only caused the public to fixate on its PR failure, compared to the actual ‘intimate’ act. Under that assumption that LOEN was fearful of a confession to the matter — the riskiness of revealing career-affecting truths — the least the company could’ve done was make their statement a more credible one. Anyone else think that their response was sketchier than the actual picture in question? I did.
LOEN also needed to put a lid on revealing too many elaborate excuses. For instance, letting Eunhyuk into IU’s house, allowing him access to her immediate family, did not exactly stand him in good stead. SM, on the other hand, declined to comment. They probably figured that it was best to let LOEN put its foot in its mouth rather than have themselves personally involved in the discussion. Not-so-coincidentally, IU got most of the attention and backlash, while no one (outside of some pressed ELFs) really cared about Eunhyuk. Lesson learned? If you’re going to bother with an official statement, at least make it sound plausible. Trying too hard just confirms that you’ve got something to hide, and will in turn cause readers and/or audiences to think that the company has treated them like fools.
Changmin and Victoria dating rumors
As the title suggests, this wasn’t a scandal so much as it was a bunch of rumors that reached its height, after f(x)‘s Victoria posted a picture on Weibo; the puny image resembled DBSK Changmin’s reflection. For some reason, SM decided to release an official statement confirming that it was indeed Changmin’s reflection in the photo, but that there were other staff around so that they weren’t alone. The thing is, you’d think that a bunch of mild dating rumors based on evidence as shady as a spoon reflection wouldn’t even be worth SM’s attention – this is the same label that didn’t bother to say anything when Eunhyuk was basically caught in bed with IU — however, it seems like SM thought again, and thought differently.
While SM’s statement seemed legitimate; the company released a statement on something that really did not require any defense (it’s just a photo of her food!). Through these tedious efforts, LOEN and SM made what could’ve been a completely innocent situation look entirely suspicious. Though they didn’t try too hard like LOEN did, the fact that SM even tried at at all makes it look like they have something to hide, especially since the photo was later deleted. In this case, SM should’ve done what YG did with Seungri: say nothing; let the netizens look like the conspiracy theorists they seem to be.
Daniel’s Drug Scandal
Of course, the winner for the most ridiculous official statement I have seen, goes to 2works and their fabulous handling of DMTN Daniel’s drug scandal. After Daniel was accused of smoking and selling weed, his label released a statement saying that he admitted to selling weed but that he did not smoke it. By some “stroke of genius”, the company was sure that this revelation would be harmless, and that selling-but-not-smoking weed would make the entire issue less of a crime. It was later clarified that he didn’t actually sell the drug but that he was an intermediary, introducing buyers to sellers. Earth to 2works: this is still illegal, guys.
Like LOEN’s statement, this official statement did absolutely nothing to help Daniel’s case in the eyes of the public. When handling a scandal as serious as a punishable crime, you’d be wary to taint an admission to the accusation with a far-fetched explanation — even if it were somehow true — as that would make you the biggest idiot to walk the planet. If people found G-Dragon’s ignorance to the difference between a cigarette and a joint doubtful, the idea that someone deemed being an intermediary in the drug trade, could be passed off with outright leniency, just sounds pathetic. In cases like these, 2works would’ve been better off explaining Daniel’s repentance and leaving it at that — people can respect honest expressions of remorse, but not when they’re accompanied by terrible excuses.
Hopefully, K-pop PR teams will eventually learn from these examples, about how to better handle their client’s misdemeanors. Until then, I’ll continue to be entertained by scandals and silly statements that come with them. What about you, Seoulmates? How do you think these situations should’ve been handled? Do you have a ‘favorite’ official statement? Share them below!