The South Korean public are discussing a controversy that erupted after one of the biggest media outlets, Dispatch, on 18 May named the personalities of 4 idols from popular groups who visited several places in the Itaewon district of Seoul, a new hotbed for the coronavirus. Those idols were BTS's Jungkook, NCT's Jaehyun, ASTRO's Cha Eun-woo, and SEVENTEEN's Mingyu.
Following the publication, the idols' agencies issued statements on the matter confirming they did visit Itaewon but did not visit the places "where the problem occurred". In fact, they showed up in a restaurant and a bar in the neighbourhood on 25-26 April, a week before the reports about a new cluster of COVID-19 infections were detected in the popular multicultural district.
At the beginning of May, South Korean authorities reported a new wave of coronavirus cases a few weeks after the country managed to stop the outbreak. The spike is believed to be linked to a 29-year-old man who visited several clubs in Seoul’s nightlife district on 2 May, one of which reportedly was a gay club, and later tested positive for COVID-19.
The labels of the 4 idols in the middle of the scandal - Big Hit Entertainment, Pledis Entertainment, Fantagio Entertainment, and SM Entertainment - clarified that after visiting Itaewon their artists took all the necessary measures such as receiving tests for COVID-19 and self-isolation. According to the official statements, all four idols tested negative for the coronavirus. The agencies also expressed the deepest regrets of their artist's behaviour while the country is practicing social distancing.
Rumours about the stars noticed in the Itaewon club first appeared on social networks last week but no identities were revealed.
Controversy Forced Fandom Wars
The whole situation sparked a holy war on the internet, where everyone started pointing the finger at one another. Fandoms started to trash who they thought responsible for the controversy, debated the most disliked and unpopular member amongst the 4 idols in the scandal, as well as pursued journalists who highlighted the situation.
Fans also demanded that Dispatch reveal the proof of their favs visiting those places in Itaewon, due to rumours and speculations about their sexual orientation erupting.
nctzens trending jaehyun gay bc 97 line went to a bar in itaewon and there was a corona breakout at the itaewon gay bar pic.twitter.com/U3BhqXKAta— ☆ (@starhuangs) May 18, 2020
oh..but why??— jaemin's eyelashes are beautiful (@demiczen) May 18, 2020
fck those 97 liner friends, bc in all of this jk is the only one getting attacked from knetz. when he was the only one who stayed put after the meeting. can't say the same about jaehyun n eunwoo who had several schedules— 𝓛⁷ (@taetaehobii) May 18, 2020
it is just his fans and that's what should've done.. what i meant is everyone dragged HIM for real every fanbase.. but when it comes to those people it is all silent??— BLOSSOM STARS (@BLOSSOMSTARS___) May 18, 2020
I don’t know how exposed other journos are to hate comments. I get 1) angry tweets from some K-pop fans 2) comments on my personal blog accusing me of various things including pro-jap collaborator for mentioning how comfortable uniqlo bra is (ppl take it so personally.800K views)— Juwon Park (@juwonreports) May 17, 2020
It's such a recurring theme. Journalists exposed to so much hate online, if not outright violence daily.— Raphael Rashid (@koryodynasty) May 17, 2020
If you say something people disagree with, instead of a constructive arguments, it's a torrent of pure hate.
Comments, DMs, emails, stalkers, deaths threats. Why? https://t.co/JjDHYvMrLq
And despite Korean authorities not having introduced strict measures, some Korean fans are disappointed with the behaviour of their idols in terms of the pandemic, where everyone should be practicing social distancing.
So, Armies (the name of the BTS fandom) are demanding a hand-written apology from Jungkook and hashtag with that meaning are trending in Korean.