This one is kind of a sequel to “Rant #10- Watch Your Words”. I separated it because these two cases I will be talking about are of different levels than those. One is not as severe, and the other is more severe.
We’re going to warm up with the one that was not as bad (In my opinion) as those in Rant #10. It was not meant maliciously, it is an understanding that arose from a passing comment, though it still caused an issue.
1) Super Junior’s Leeteuk and Olympic Skater Kim Yu-Na
I didn’t put the usual “vs” here for a reason, you’ll understand after I explain. Leeteuk, for those of you who aren’t familiar with the Asian music scene, is the leader of a group called Super Junior. They currently have the largest fan club in the world, with over 1,000,000 officially registered members. Leeteuk participates in numerous Korean programs as a guest or MC, and fans keep a close eye on all activities. This issue arose a couple of years ago, so it is old news. On a program Leeteuk said that Kim Yu-Na refused his friend request on Cyworld (Korean myspace) as a joke to liven up a conversation. The fans took this and ran with it, spamming Yu-Na’s page with insults and the like. Leeteuk issued a formal apology to the fans as well as a personal apology to Kim Yu-Na, saying he did not intend to cause any trouble and promising to not make such jokes again. This is just a good example of the shoe-in-mouth effect. He apologized immediately after, which is another thing that sets this incident apart from the others. Since this there have been no other issues, which is a credit to Leeteuk’s sincerity in the apology.
Ok, this next one is more severe than the others from Rant #10. I say that because of the fallout from it, as well as the amount of people involved. This was literally an international incident.
2) 2PM’s Park Jaebum (Jay) vs the People of South Korea
You read it right, this one revolved around words spoken against Koreans, not just one or two people. Jaebum came from the United States to train and eventually debut as a singer in South Korea. This controversy revolved around comments he made on a friends Myspace back before debut (the comments were made in 2005, the group debuted in 2008). Here they are (the “…” are exactly what appeared in the original comments, I did not change anything for this post):
“…Korea is gay…. I hate Koreans… i wanna come back…. like no other… friggin’ a…ne ways yeah”
“…yea man Korea is whack.. but everyone thinks i’m like the illest rapper wen i suck nuts at rappin… so dass pretty dope”
If this wasn’t bad enough he posted another comment just before debut regarding their stage costumes saying:
“I’m like a gay version of myself”
The fallout from this was epic to say the least. Initially Jaebum was to make a national apology via the group’s official website, but this grew further from that. Two days after the statements were made public he boarded a plane for Seattle (where he grew up) and vanished from media (he kept to his house and away from foreign and domestic reporters). The fan response which forced him from Korea also attempted to bring him straight back. Hottest, 2PM’s fan club, made donations totaling over $64,000 under names such as “Those Waiting for 2PM’s Leadja Park Jaebum), hired planes to fly past his house at 2pm each day carrying a banner which read “Jay, what time is it?” (“What time is it?” was a fan chant between 2PM and Hottest, as well as the name of the fan song 2PM recorded for them). Finally, fans organized flash mobs in major cities such as Seoul and New York’s Times Square in which Hottest members would rush the area, dance to 2PM’s song “Again and Again” and then disperse. Korean activities included silent protests and petitions. 2PM themselves refused to select a new leader and renamed their album “Heartbeat”, choosing to call it “1:59 PM” as a symbol of their belief they could not be 2PM without him. Before his planned return to the group, however, he was involved in a different scandal which resulted in his removal from JYP Entertainment, agreed upon unanimously by 2PM’s members.