OH! Press Talk: T-ara’s Conundrum Resurfaced

T-ara is back, now with more juicy news and revelations after years of nothing but hatred and injustice. T-ara’s bullying scandal remains as one of the biggest, most shocking controversy in the South Korean entertainment industry. Will something this big and volatile find a conclusion? Are we done with them yet? What is exactly going on? Obviously, this entire pandemonium is worth a thousands questions and to answer all of it would be a coaster ride.

Here are words from our authors who share their thoughts and insights on the resurfacing of T-ara’s conundrum:


So we are back to square one. T-ara is once again making the headlines in South Korea but unlike years ago, there’s a glimmer of hope instead of generic negative responses from netizens alike. Or is it? I’m not surprised to see the scandal resurfaced (frankly speaking the scandal is mentioned every year after it blew up). Though this time the anecdote is really different from the usual lingering hatred.

There are two parties in this scandal. Original members of T-ara (one may argue to add new member Lee Areum into the fray but I won’t) the alleged “bullies”, and former member Ryu Hwayoung the alleged “bully victim”. Netizens (this time around) are mostly scrutinizing Ryu Hwayoung. Why?

I am not going to talk about the scandal in general, that would need a special article of many parts. It has been revealed by former MBK (formerly CCM) staff and ex member Lee Areum that Hwayoung (and her twin sister Hyoyoung) were playing victim all this while.

Shocking? Well at this point nothing from it is shocking anymore. Despite the revelations, we can’t just conclude this and that. The fault is not on one person. The entire event broke like chains and it’s really unfortunate that T-ara got the worst out of it. Very unfortunate.

Regardless of sentiments, I can safely say that justice is served at long last. T-ara might not be getting their popularity in their homeland back but at least they can live their life better now while making lots of money in China. Slowly, their time will come.


I restarted my kpop journey the year this scandal broke out and it felt so strange that five years later it would resurface.  There was no closure or anything 5 years ago, all clarifications were brushed out the window and well I thought that would be the end of it.  I’ve never expected closure, because truth is most kpop scandals don’t have one.  But in the end what’s done is done.  

I’ve chosen not to take sides, still being the casual listener of T-ara’s music and not avoiding dramas and movies with Hwayoung.  And although I think I can look at things less subjectively than fans of the two, I’m not a fan so I would never understand the anger or frustration.  There’s never smoke without a fire and we’ve seen these with the ongoing clarifications.  

I’m not saying Hwayoung may not have played the victim or that T-ara did in fact bully her, because that is all up to your decision.  Just remember the thing T-ara has been accused of is bullying.  It only makes you a hypocrite if you go and cyber bully any of the individuals in this situation.  Leaving mean comments, wishing death, calling someone a snake can affect their mental health in negative ways.  

T-ara has unfortunately already suffered the blow and nothing done now will reverse it.  Don’t contribute to cyber bullying, because the only thing that does is reflects on what kind of person you are.  The concept of karma is not about the retribution this life time.


I was surprised that this scandal had resurfaced after 5 years of being buried without a proper closure – right, closure. People left it as it is, took either sides of T-ARA or Hwayoung and moved on with life. I remembered being perplexed at the first outbreak of the incident, was it T-ARA or Hwayoung’s fault?

I’ve read arguments from both parties and honestly speaking, it sounded equally convincing though I’ve suspected all along that it may be more of Hwayoung acting as a victim. I did not read in-depth of the various articles posted this time round as I wasn’t keen on going through and recounting the entire scandal again but I was concerned that people were sending death threats to them. They may hate them to a large extent but death threats are definitely unacceptable and it’s ridiculous that some people are ignorant about it and continued to send anyway.


The scariest part about the T-ARA vs Hwayoung scandal – about any k-pop ‘scandal’ for that matter – is the way every other uninvolved individual can very easily get caught up in the flurry of drama. It’s all fun and games for onlookers until death wishes happen. And I mean this for both parties. I get that most fans tend to have an emotional stake in their favourite idols’ welfare. If this had happened to my favourite group, I would be livid, and hope that the person responsible would be suitably dealt with a dose of karma. But I would not wish death on anyone. Unless it’s Hitler or the like.


It took 5 years for the proper truth to be re-surfaced. That’s 5 years of T-ARA’s Korean career rotting consistently and losing fans on the daily, due to the misinformed netizens attacking for bullying their own member. I wasn’t heavily involved in Kpop when the scandal took place, just a casual listener, but even I had heard of how horrible T-ARA was acting, but I wondered how and why they’d publicly shame their own member if it wasn’t for a good reason, thus, I really thought T-ARA were innocent.

After studying up on the whole scandal, I came to terms that Hwayoung was doing this to probably stab T-ARA’s career in the back. It’s unfortunate it had to go on for this long. Netizens took this too far, and created fake evidence to back their thoughts up, even claiming to have insider info and say exactly what the “girls had said about Hwayoung”. The scandal resulted in threats and cyber bullying, which is no good at all, we never knew what exactly happened, netizens just like to take a small thing and dramatize it to make it seem like people are horrible monsters, when in fact idols are just humans, just like us.


The T-ARA bullying case has been well-documented over the years. Revelations after revelations, blame after blame. It has been five years since Hwayoung left the group and when the bullying outbreak began. This case is not about who were the perpetrators or the victims. It goes up beyond the members, former members and their staff. The executives of management could be handed the blame. But the reality is, when young people are placed in a competitive, extremely stressful and highly demanding environment together; differences are bound to arise.

Yes, bullying should not happen and abuse is not acceptable but unfortunately, it happens in every group. Everyone will or at least have thoughts of doing everything they can to reach the top. If the weight of social expectation and pressure was not so high, then perhaps cases like this would not be so hurtful to all those involved. More psychological support and social understanding has never been as vital for T-ARA and the current K-pop industry.

What are your opinions on this scandal?  For extra reading regarding this scandal, click here.



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