[Ed.: Well this entry in the drafts folder is over four years old, as you can see, and actually seems to be a complete text (wonder if the links still work though?). Probably I didn’t publish it because it was a wee bit questioning Hwayoung’s character, but I don’t think it said anything too intemperate and anyway it’s water under the bridge now. T-ara lives, Hwayoung lives, I still love them all. And I love the title of this post! Indeed, I can’t believe I didn’t post it then for the title alone.]
Korea’s national scandal, T-ara’s “bullygate”, continues apace. allkpop reports:
The advertisement industry is starting to feel the effects of T-ara‘s controversy, as many of the brands the girls are endorsing have begun to strip the girls’ image from their stores.
Many of the brands have reported that they are currently receiving hundreds of calls and requests on their official homepages from fans claiming that they will be boycotting their products should they continue to use T-ara as their endorsement models.
‘Tony Moly‘, a cosmetics brand the girls are currently endorsing, has even gone as far as to publicly claim that they will not be signing the girls again. A representative stated, “T-ara’s contract ends at the end of August. We were in the midst of negotiating a new contract, but now that this controversy has happened, we will not be signing them on again.”
Other fans have actually visited the stores to express their boycott, causing stores to take down all of their T-ara posters from the walls.
Outdoor clothing brand ‘Wild Rose‘ still has eight months left with the girls. Representatives stated, “There is still time left with their contract, but because this is such a sensitive issue, we will be working with T-ara’s company to figure out what to do next.” [internal links are allkpop’s]
For a flavor of what the more ‘reasonable’ commenters have to say, here’s Maknae-sshi’s point of view on the same article:
If this is really happening to them,I feel kinda happy about it honestly because it’s wrong to bully someone and it’s good that they’re seeing the consequences,and paying for it.If they didn’t bully her,as this is all speculations then they need to treat each other better. Advertisers pulling out is not so bad,or going too far because if they did bully the girl,it’s only right that they learn their lesson.Personally,I would never buy a product they advertise for,because that would mean I also support them with my money,and I don’t like bullies.
I love how the internet sets reason and logic free, don’t you?
Meanwhile in the comments for a piece announcing an online petition for the disbandment of T-ara, Kiki writes:
I like T-ara and their music. This is fcking ridiculous. I think its not entirely T-ara’s fault, its CCM, the director, and possibly Hwayoung’s fault too. How can all of the members hate Hwayoung solely, perhaps there is a reason why she is hated and not well liked.
Honestly, i think Kpop stars should keep their private lives from their careers. Including Hwayoung. If she was not treated well shouldnt she just leave or make it known to the manager or directors. Why tell it to the public? As a fan I am now deprived of a Kpop group that I liked a lot just like many T-ara fans out there.
Hwayoung may be treated bad in the group, but now the other girl’s career and their hard work is completely ruined. Honestly they aren’t that old, shouldn’t people just give them a chance. People make mistakes all the way till they die.
–I don’t want to flap in the wind here, since I’ve always loved Hwayoung and since, in light of the new False-ara members I’ve long predicted the ontological death of what we knew and loved as “T-ara”; but Hwayoung was the original “new member” and I was soon aware, at the dawn of my T-ara awareness in January, that some fans even then still resented Hwayoung’s presence. And it must be admitted that, loveable as Hwayoung is, if there is any T-ara member who could remotely be a Mary McGregor type, it could only be Hwayoung.
Hyomin, Soyeon, Eunjung, Jiyeon, Qri, Boram: not a sliver of Mary McGregor about them. But Hwayoung? eehhhhh . . . .
Mary McGregor is the archetypal example in fiction of what Camille Paglia calls “The Girl with the Eternal Cold.” In her 1994 essay collection Vamps & Tramps she writes:
This was the pudgy, clumsy, whiny child at summer camp who was always spilling her milk, dropping her lollipop in the dirt, getting a cramp on the hike, a stone in her shoe, a bee in her hair. In college, this type– pasty, bilious, and frumpy– is constantly sick from fall to spring. She coughs and sneezes on everyone, is never prepared with tissue and sits sniffling in class with a roll of toilet paper on her lap. She is the ultimate teacher’s pest, the morose, unlovable child who never got her mama’s approval and therefore demands attention at any price.
And this– for what it’s worth– is what KKS, El Duche of Core Contents Media, claims was the precipitating incident for Hwayoung’s dismissal:
According to CCM, after their Budokan concert and return to Korea on July 27th, T-ara was preparing to go on stage for a live broadcast of KBS‘s ‘Music Bank‘. With only two groups before them left to go, Hwayoung suddenly decided that she did not want to perform on stage that day.
CCM had decided that due to her leg injury, Hwayoung would sit on a chair on stage for her rap segment, and so the girls had successfully completed their camera rehearsal before the broadcast. However, Hwayoung suddenly changed her mind and refused to go on stage with 2 groups left to go.
The agency stated that in order to prevent an accident on live TV, members Eunjung and Hyomin were pressed to learn Hwayoung’s rap segment in the short amount of time they had before their turn. With the new pressure, Hyomin was clearly nervous and ended up making a mistake during the rap segment.
On the way home, Hwayoung, in front of fans and reporters, threw down her crutches and sat on the floor, threatening to yell at the managers in public. It has also been revealed that Hwayoung has shown both fans and reporters a similar side to her, with unacceptable actions and behavior on the set of ‘Music Bank’.
We note that no witnesses to this alleged tantrum seem to have revealed themselves– and that KKS has a proven track record for mendacity. Still, still, who knows if Hwayoung isn’t a diva? Even if it’s one diva against six divas, that doesn’t mean the six divas aren’t angry without cause. If 6-ara truly froze out Hwayoung for two years, that seems very callous and unreasonable. But even if that were so– and there’s no evidence of worse mistreatment, indeed no particularly persuasive evidence that they were so “cold” to her– would that be “bullying”? Even the people screaming about C[**]T-ara can’t persuade themselves, in their irrational fury, to suppose Hwayoung was living in some Full Metal Jacket-style barracks life hell. All they have is this gunk speculation about “Boram broke Hwayoung’s umbrella” and “Hyomin just poked Hwayoung in the eye” and “Eunjung just forced a rice cake to her mouth” nonsense. “Bullying”, indeed!
And Hwayoung herself, apart from her quizzically philosophical post-departure tweet “Facts with no truth”, has nothing thus far to say about this.
I like what this TheProphetBlog commenter has to say about Hwa– damnit to hell, I think he edited his comment. Anyway, animasaurus had a comment about how Hwayoung was one of the coolest-weird girls in K-pop, and it was all the better because she didn’t know it, and how she had a womanly body with an androgynous face. It was all a very sweet, and perceptive, tribute and I’d basically stand by it, except I also have to wistfully acknowledge that the whole ‘womanly figure +androgynous face’ potentially just translates into “homely”.
Look, Hwayoung is not Mary McGregor, but I can see some intuitive truth in the idea that she might’ve been oversensitive and a bit of a brat. I also acknowledge that brattiness from her, in the face of KKS’s threats, might’ve been something all the T-ara girls should’ve taken a cue from. Solidarity and rebellion might’ve been a benefit all round. But then, if 6-ara never wanted to become 7-ara in the first place, if they resisted it like I’ve resisted False 8/9-ara, how can I then tell Boram, Hyomin, Qri, Soyeon, Eunjung, and Jiyeon they ought to make common cause with somebody they may to this day regard (perhaps not without cause) as a blight and a curse on their existence? Even if that supposed blight was herself part of what I always knew of and loved in T-ara?
Hwayoung will always be loved, if only for her part in the musical canon. And I don’t want to “hate” on her, and I wouldn’t hate her if all she did was throw herself on the ground and threaten to scream (childish as that would be). But neither can I learn to dislike my beloved six other goddesses for giving the cold shoulder to someone who, well, potentially throws herself on the ground and threatens to scream because she’s not happy about something.
If the worst 6-ara can be charged with is Jiyeon slapping Hwayoung across the face in the middle of a late-night, last minute rehearsal, then frankly I’m not that bothered [UPDATE: kpopstarz reports this claim, made by a self-described “backup dancer”, has been exposed as the work of an imposter. Though in this account the alleged offender was Eunjung, not Jiyeon]. I was bullied too, damnit, and more disgustingly than that. “Bullying” is not genocide. It is not and cannot be, eve as a metaphor, some sort of emblem for all the wickedness in the world. Frankly, it can, in certain group situations (I’m not just counting the Entire 7th Grade Class as a “group”), have a necessary and ultimately benign bonding effect. As I believe commenter cuntley (yes, dear old cuntley) was pointing out on the same TheProphetblog thread above, that Japanese tv program where Eunjung puts the rice cake to Hwayoung’s lips traditionally features the winner in the competition (here, Eunjung) slapping the loser across the face. The rice cake is a demoted demerit!