K-pop girl group T-ara has issued an apology to fans over accusations that they bullied one of their own and ultimately sacked her from the act, a move that caused thousands of fans to revolt, leading to a massive drop in their fan club number and the cancellation of their concert.
Ryu Hwayoung, 19, was fired from group on 30th July after their management said she had been rude to staff, and skipped rehearsals on the pretence of being ill but instead went shopping. The controversy spiralled out of control when fans fought back claiming the remaining seven girls were the problem.
In an ironic twist after Hwayoung's departure, original T-ara member Eunjung was forced to quit her role in the TV drama Five Fingers. And the group's August concert in Seoul was called off after thousands of fans decided to return their tickets in a show of support for Hwayoung.
T-ara finally addressed the termination and backlash for the first time on Wednesday through their official website. A handwritten note posted on the homepage read:
"We write this letter after much deliberation. This past month has felt longer than the time it took us to debut. We admit that we were immature and unable to resolve the differences within the group, and we let it out publicly. We deeply apologise for acting without much consideration."
"If we had understood each other, shared and acted more maturely, none of this would have happened. Looking back, we overcame all hardships together and worked hard towards the same dream, and it breaks our hearts to think that these good memories were buried by our quick judgment."
The girls also left a message for Hwayoung: "She must have gone through a hard time being misunderstood as the outcast. We hope that she no longer has to face this pain again."
The letter ends with the group saying that they've learned their lesson and now realise they have to be more responsible as public figures. They also asked for forgiveness from their parents and the fans who they've let down.
They did not, however, offer Hwayoung her old job back. That gig has gone to new member Dani, who will be introduced at their next concert date in December.
Meanwhile, another K-pop act Kara has been forced to say sorry after photos of their vans occupying two handicapped parking bays popped up on the Internet. Apparently everyone in the vans, including the band members, ignored complaints from the public and refused to drive away.
Following the uproar, the girl group's agency DSP Media issued this statement:
"After investigation, we found out that the two vehicles Kara members and their staff were travelling on stopped by the Jung-an rest area in Gongju and parked in the handicapped spot for about 15 minutes on 25th August. We would like to humbly apologise to those who were discomforted by this. We will make sure that such incidents will not happen again."