While I have already talked about the texts from Hyoyoung to Areum, about how what the former T-ara staff and manager said could explain an awful lot about what happened, and then about T-ara being vindicated, I hadn’t actually addressed everything the staff member and manager said. Well, in a previous article I promised I would do it, so I’ll do that now.
To kick things off, Hwayoung and Hyoyoung went on ‘Taxi‘ and addressed the T-ara situation by revealing nothing new but playing up the victim role in vague terms (again).
Ryu Hwayoung said, “It’s a shame. Thinking about it now, it’s something that can definitely happen between girls. Looking back, we were still young and inexperienced. I, also, wasn’t an adult.” When asked if she ever cried, she responded, “I locked myself in my room and cried a lot. I had lost a lot of weight at the time, and my sister, choking up, told me to stop losing weight.” Ryu Hyoyoung, Hwayoung’s sister, added, “My sister was watching a music program, and she was spaced out [thinking about something else]. It made me think that I should work harder.” Ryu Hwayoung, hearing her sister say this, started crying.
A former T-ara staff member, apparently sick and tired of seeing that act over and over again, went to the press shortly after.
The staff member said, “I saw yesterday’s broadcast of ‘Taxi.’ I saw that Ryu Hwayoung and Ryu Hyoyoung cried, too. [Hwayoung] said ‘It’s something that can definitely happen between girls’? That they didn’t know better? As if what happened was nothing? What, exactly was it that ‘could have just happened’? The threat that [Hyoyoung] would scratch up someone’s face?”
Fortunately, the staff brought along receipts (that were later confirmed as legit), showing a KakaoTalk exchange where Hyoyoung threatens Areum.
“Hyoyoung: Areum, it’s Hyoyoung.
Areum: Yes hi!
Hyoyoung: Areum, you have to be thankful and thank people when they take care of you. If you don’t want to get hit, then act properly because word spreads around fast. Don’t gossip around and act cheap. I’m really angry right now, so let’s not see each other, okay?
Hyoyoung: If I misunderstood anything, do you want to meet up and talk? Or do you want to apologize now?
Areum: I don’t know what you’re talking about, bu tI want to meet and talk with you. I’ve never done anything bad enough to hear words like this.
Hyoyoung: Baby, you should just go away.
Hyoyoung: I’m going to beat the dust off you at ‘Music Bank,’ so just wait.
Hyoyoung: I’m going to scratch your face so you can’t go on broadcast.
Hyoyoung: Hehehe, just you wait.
Hyoyoung: I’m not going to be a singer, so just wait. Dogs only learn when they get hit.
Hyoyoung: Stupid bitch, just wait until I catch up with you.
Hyoyoung: Okay, you’re doing a grrrrreat job at snitching.”
But that definitely wasn’t all that the staff talked about, as the person spilled on the events that led to the “bullying” controversy getting started, beginning with Hwayoung’s leg “injury”.
“T-ara had an MBC ‘Music Core’ special in Ulsan [on July 23]. That day, after the performance, Ryu Hwayoung twisted her ankle while running back to the dressing room. When we got back to Seoul, Ryu Hwayoung went to the hospital to get x-rays and tests done. She was with her manager at the time, and they told her that there was nothing wrong. The next day, July 24, T-ara had a scheduled Budokan concert in Japan. The manager went to pick up Ryu Hwayoung, but she came out of her house in a cast. She was definitely told that there was nothing wrong, but she had a cast on. The manager asked her what happened, and Ryu Hwayoung said she went to a different hospital with her dad, where they gave her a cast. She got in the car in her cast, and in the car, she said she thought she could walk, and took it off. (This is something that I heard from their manager at the time.) When they got to the airport, Ryu Hwayoung knew there would be reporters, and she demanded someone get her a wheelchair. But where would we suddenly get a wheelchair? Eventually, the manager was the one to help her get around the airport. She was the most-searched topic that day on Naver. That was the first time I thought something was off.”
Basically, what the staff is saying here is that Hwayoung was faking an injury to get out of schedules and so that she could get sympathy points.
“Anyone who knows what happened at the rehearsal for the concert in Japan on July 24 will understand. Ryu Hwayoung demanded a wheelchair even when she arrived in Japan, and she kept claiming that her ankle hurt. So we went to the hospital in Japan. Sure enough, they said there was nothing wrong and she wouldn’t need a cast. Even so, Hwayoung demanded a wheelchair, saying it was difficult to walk. What happened after is even more ridiculous. To a Japanese staff member that went with her to the hospital, Hwayoung said, ‘I want to get some nail art done. Instead of the concert venue, let’s go to the hotel.’ I recall that the Japanese agency was very angry about this. She knew that the other members were practicing, but wanted to go to the hotel and get her nails done. How ridiculous is that?”
So there’s the detailed account of the “rumor” that Hwayoung went to get her nails done while the other members were rehearsing for their concert. And it wasn’t just any concert either, but their first at Nippon Budokan that was to cap off their first national tour of Japan. Well, Hwayoung just ditched it, according to the staff.
“As a staff member, I know. If you take choreography and formations meant for eight people and change it for seven, you have to change everything. Because the empty spot needs to be filled. Because of Ryu Hwayoung, everyone — the choreography team, directing team, lights team, performance team — all had to change everything. Because of one missing person, about 80 staff members toiled for eight hours for a rehearsal that should have ended in two. In the end, Ryu Hwayoung only sang one song at the Budokan concert. It was ‘Day by Day,’ the song they were promoting at the time.”
If the legitimacy of Hwayoung’s injury wasn’t in doubt, then I would feel this is a rather pointless aside. After all, groups have to adjust on the fly to things like this all the time. However, given that it was in doubt, it becomes understandable that people would be less than thrilled with having to make changes for Hwayoung.
“That’s why the members talked about ‘will.’ If she had come to see T-ara and the staff members who were rehearsing, explained what had happened and offered one word of apology, would it have been as big of an issue?”
“The next day, July 25, T-ara’s Hyomin posted the comment ‘A difference of will’ on Twitter. The other members replied, retweeted, and agreed. Whatever the reason, in the end, it was the members attacking Ryu Hwayoung. There are no excuses for this, as it was a public complaint against a fellow member. But I’m a third party. Seeing everything happen from afar, on one hand, I understand why the members said those things.”
This is where the “determination” stuff came from, obviously. I’ve never denied that this was a dumb move on T-ara’s part from a public relations perspective, but taking everything into consideration, it hardly seems like an unreasonable reaction from the members and it definitely wasn’t “bullying,” even though that is exactly what people turned it into.
The staff member explained that after the concert, when everyone had returned to Korea for ‘Music Bank,’ the T-ara members were sorry about what they posted, and wanted to make up. “Hyomin tried first to talk to Hwayoung, but Hwayoung said, ‘There’s nothing that I feel bad for, so I have no reason so say sorry,’ which cut off any conversation. And that’s when it happened: the threatening messages from Hyoyoung to Areum.” The staff member said that after everything that happened, Areum, though she also was a late addition to T-ara like Hwayoung, didn’t agree with how Hwayoung was acting, and became distant from her. When Hyoyoung heard this from Hwayoung, the threats started. “Areum showed the texts to the T-ara members, asking them for help, and in the end it was reported to the agency, and that’s when I saw them. This is the story behind the T-ara case that nobody knew.”
On the industry side, journalists and ‘Music Bank’ PDs seemed to confirm the story. In addition, a well-known Hyomin fansite revealed that Hwayoung threw her crutches on July 30 at 1:49 PM, while the agency CCM confirmed it the same day at 2:38 PM. It seems then, as fans knew about the incident before the agency announced it, the story leans toward truth rather than simple media play.
As observed by the fansite admin, Hwayoung’s twin Hyoyoung had sent a text to T-ara’s Ahreum saying, “Hwayoung isn’t getting love all because of you!” Right before the ‘Music Bank’ live, Hyomin tried to bring Hwayoung and Ahreum together to get them to make up but Hwayoung got mad and threw her crutches and left.
Given that we now know the text exchange between Hyoyoung and Areum happened, it just gives this story even further credibility.
“Yes, it’s true. Everyone was young and inexperienced then. But honestly, I can’t watch [Hyoyoung and Hwayoung] play the victim. And now, five years later, seeing them act like they’re taking the high road? I really can’t just watch. What Ryu Hwayoung said in 2012? ‘Only fans will know’? I don’t know if that was a premeditated move, but everyone, including fans, only know bits and pieces. For example, Ryu Hwayoung running out of a dressing room. But the staff members from back then remember exactly what happened. Ryu Hwayoung’s selfish actions … playing the victim wasn’t enough and now they have to pretend like they’re taking the high road? I was frustrated, and I talked for a long time. Thank you for reading my long message.”
So to end things, the staff explains the motivations for coming out with this now.
Furthermore, T-ara’s former manager was contacted and the stories were confirmed.
The group’s former manager said, “Everything in the post that came up on the online community is true. Any employee [from that time] knows the story.” The manager continued, “It’s something that has come out through blogs several times since the beginning. It’s something that we had collectively decided to keep quiet, but seeing it now in the news, it’s alarming.”
MBK Entertainment, meanwhile, remains useless.
T-ara’s agency also made a brief statement about the issue, saying that it’s something from the past and that they have nothing to say.
So this was quite comprehensive, I’d say.
It goes beyond saying that T-ara didn’t bully Hwayoung, instead painting the picture of Hwayoung as a problematic member within the group dynamic. That includes having a sister (Hyoyoung) that interjected herself into group affairs from a point of ignorance and ended up making serious physical threats against Areum.
Given that, I don’t see any other way to look at this situation than seeing T-ara as victims of a witch hunt conducted by media and netizens, something that was exacerbated by Hwayoung and Hyoyoung actively trying to play the victims even though they knew damn well what they did and what actually happened.
It’s too late for T-ara now, but at least people finally got to know the truth and the snakes in the grass got exposed.