Over the past few weeks, some South Korean pop idols and athletes were involved in alleged teenage bullying controversies. And now, K-beauty brands such as Clio and Peripera are starting to take action after learning about their endorsers' involvement.
Stray Kids‘ Hyunjin, an endorser of Korean cosmetics brand CLIO, is involved in the scandal. He was accused by a female victim, claiming that in middle school, the artist and his male friends made abusive comments about her—such as insulting her parents and calling her weird—in a chatroom. Hyunjin admitted to the act and has taken an indefinite leave from performing.
On Feb. 27, Hyunjin's agency, JYP Entertainment, said, "Hyunjin will take the time to self-reflect after halting all of his activities as a celebrity. He sincerely regrets and is self-reflecting on the fact that he hurt various people in middle school with his rough and unsuitable words. He has sincerely apologised to those who were hurt and is doing his best so that those people can heal from those wounds."
He also posted an apology on his Instagram account, and expressed regret "to those who were hurt by my improper actions." He added, "Looking back on times when I was more lacking, I am embarrassed and have no excuse. Whether it was intended or not, I don't think I can be forgiven at all for giving unforgettable pain to someone."
In light of the incident, CLIO has temporarily removed all marketing materials with Hyunjin from all their local and international stores.
Another K-beauty brand Peripera, also from the same company as CLIO, have dropped two of their endorsers: APRIL‘s Lee Naeun and (G)I-DLE‘s Soojin.
Last year, Lee Naeun, who was Peripera's ambassador for two years, was accused of bullying a classmate during their elementary days. The accuser claims that she dreaded going to tutoring school because of Naeun. Another netizen claimed that the Korean idol also ridiculed her, saying, "The most embarrassing moment was when Naeun pointed her fingers at me and said, 'she looks like a handicap.' Then, she rated how I look from head to toe."
However, her agency DSP Media said that the allegations aren't true. "Since becoming aware of the post on the community, we carried out a detailed process of checking with not only the artist but also acquaintances, and we came to the conclusion that it is false."
They continued that they have gathered all evidence and have decided to take legal action for spreading false information. "There will be no settlement or leniency," they stressed.
Peripera endorser (G)I-DLE‘s Soojin was also temporarily dropped from her endorsement. Soojin was supposed to be launched as the ambassador last March 1, but they "ended up removing all traces of Soojin from the brand’s official social media platforms, like Instagram and Twitter," according to Koreaboo. The K-beauty brand also told Korean media outlet Sports Khan that they are “working on resolving the issue regarding the model.”
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Soojin was rumored to have bullied her schoolmates and would make girls slap each other in the bathroom. The accuser's sister said, "[She] would [also] send group texts saying that my sibling is a loner/outcast." There were also claims that she stole money and uniforms from girls and would go around with older boys in motorcycles while drinking and smoking.
Soojin took to a fansite application called U CUBE to explain her side, saying she was "rebelling at a young age." The star, however, said that she has changed and was embarrassed of her past, but also said some claims are false.
"From what I remember, I had a fight with the girl because she broke a promise. It wasn’t her first time, so remember getting mad at her for it. I didn’t know that she was trying to push me away. I’m embarrassed about it, but I also remember cursing at her over the phone. The older sister heard me and she scolded me about it. I apologized and hung up. Since then, the girl and I really drifted apart and never really made up," Soojin wrote.
Soojin finished her statement emphasizing that she never got physically violent with her former friend and denied all rumors about her.
Meanwhile, her agency CUBE Entertainment, said that they are monitoring the situation and checking the facts, and will take the appropriate legal action if these are proven wrong.
"Please help us stop these hurtful allegations about (G)I-DLE members, who are working hard toward their goals. Going forward, we will take legal action against all malicious rumors and we will show zero tolerance. Note that CUBE Entertainment has established its ‘Artist Rights Protection Committee’ on December 15, 2020 and since been continuously monitoring the distribution of false information, insults, sexual harassment, etc. The committee is already in the process of pursuing a number of lawsuits," they wrote in a statement.
Scandals like these involving accused Korean celebrities could impact a brands' sales and with such action, "they want to minimize any possible side effects," said Koreaboo.
CLIO‘s strategy planning team, assistant team leader Jo Young Joo shared in a statement, “We are in panic as well, as factors we did not consider at all during model selection, became the center of a controversy. However, it is a relief that we took down advertisement posts shortly after the controversy broke out, so profits were not affected.”