Following reports of Gyuri and then Mino being out partying at the time of social distancing, now four other idols are being criticized for doing similar, with BTS‘s Jungkook, ASTRO‘s Eunwoo, NCT‘s Jaehyun, and SEVENTEEN‘s Mingyu named. Unlike Mino, these are reportedly connected to the Itaewon area associated with the most recent outbreak of COVID-19 in Korea, much like Gyuri’s case.
According to their exclusive report, on April 25, the same day that the Korean Center for Disease Control (KCDC) released their statement calling for Koreans to be careful and reiterated the importance of social distancing, Jungkook, Cha Eunwoo, Jaehyun, and Mingyu gathered together in Itaewon. Dispatch says they confirmed the rumors of Jungkook, Cha Eunwoo, Jaehyun, and Mingyu gathering together, and they visited a restaurant and 2 entertainment facilities. The problem became how to deal with their visit after the new outbreak of cases tied to Itaewon. The KCDC requested that everyone who visited Itaewon between April 24-May 6 get tested, and that’s exactly what the 4 idols did. Jungkook, Cha Eunwoo, Jaehyun, and Mingyu all got tested and received a negative result. However, the KCDC recommends that one self isolates for 2 weeks, due to the virus’s incubation period. This would mean they would have to stay inside until May 10.
One additional wrinkle is that Eunwoo and Jaehyun seemingly ignored self-isolation rules.
Instead, Cha Eunwoo started his comeback promotions with ASTRO on May 7, appearing on Cultwo Show and Hidden Track. He also performed on Music Bank on May 8, and Music Core on May 9. Jaehyun continued on with his MC duties for Inkigayo, appearing on the April 26, May 3, and May 10 episodes. Jungkook and Mingyu had no official schedules. A witness from Itaewon who was at the same place as the idols commented on the matter, “I was in the same place as [the idols], and I tested negative. But even still, I self-isolated for two weeks. It’s more problematic if people act like nothing is happening and go on as normal.” In the case of the 2nd place the idols visited, the venue was actually closed down temporarily due to the social distancing recommendation. The venue is a mix of a bar and a club, where it is still difficult to maintain social distancing due to the nature of the venue.
Initially my concern with reporting on the Itaewon situation was potentially outing idols, but this thankfully seems unrelated to anything of that nature, and the story focuses on the night out in the area and centers around social distancing and self isolation issues. I have my share of complaints with Dispatch, but unless they’re outing an idol here, I think it’s fair to report on this much like it was with Gyuri. That said, I do understand that the homophobic speculation is a major concern and I hope they’re right and they’re sure about this because of that factor.
Moreover, at some point Dispatch likely had to say something because the agencies had basically clamped up about it (despite some telling actions), which is also drawing criticism because they are seen as essentially trying to cover up an issue that should’ve been public because it could impact the public’s health. Especially so with some of them reportedly violating self-isolation and potentially becoming vectors for the entertainment industry at large.
All that said, in general I don’t have much left to say about this, as I gave my thoughts on this kind of naming and shaming of idols in a previous post. Basically, a lot of the real mess I see so far is fanwar shit, but in general, I feel like offenses on this level are worthy of an apology and maybe a reflection period but not a whole lot else beyond that.
Of course, either the idols or the companies (probably the companies) ignoring self-isolation so they could either attempt to cover up what was going on or so that they could continue on with activities unabated is an extra wrinkle that could potentially make things a bit worse for those involved on that front.
All four companies have confirmed reports that the quartet went to Itaewon, and have also offered statements/apologies regarding the situation.
Big Hit Entertainment
Here is our official statement regarding BTS member Jungkook’s visit to the neighborhood of Itaewon in Seoul. Last week, several news outlets reached out to us to ask about whether Jungkook had visited the neighborhood of Itaewon, and we sincerely apologize for belatedly realizing that the agency’s response to the questions were problematic. It is true that Jungkook went to the neighborhood of Itaewon. However, at the time, he did not go to the place that became a problem due to the confirmed case in early May, and Jungkook was in Itaewon a week prior to the first confirmed case (first case related to the chain of infections in the neighborhood of Itaewon). Moreover, to abide by the government’s guidelines, Jungkook took measures such as receiving a test for COVID-19, so we deemed it inappropriate to reveal our artist’s private life to the public. However, there is no room for excuse regarding the fact that we, as the agency of the artist in question, had not properly recognized the heavy importance of social distancing and prioritized the protection of the artist’s private life over it. We bow our heads to everyone in apology. On the evening of April 25, Saturday, Jungkook visited a restaurant and bar in the neighborhood of Itaewon with his acquaintances. He showed no symptoms of COVID-19 such as coughing or a fever following the visit. He voluntarily received a test for COVID-19 at a government-designated hospital and tested negative. The artist himself is currently feeling deeply regretful for not having faithfully contributed to the entire society’s social distancing efforts. We at Big Hit are doing our best to follow social distancing protocols as well as other guidelines and prevention methods for COVID-19. We will follow [the guidelines] more thoroughly to ensure that such things do not happen again. We apologize for causing concern to many people including fans.
First, we deeply apologize for causing concern to many with the report regarding Pledis Entertainment artist SEVENTEEN member Mingyu’s visit to the neighborhood of Itaewon. Mingyu is deeply reflecting on his inappropriate behavior of not abiding by the social guidelines during the government’s social distancing period. Immediately after confirming that he had visited the area during the period specified by the CDSCHQ, he was voluntarily tested for COVID-19 at a government-designated hospital even though he did not show symptoms of COVID-19 such as coughing or fever. After he received negative results, he has been in self-isolation and has carefully followed the guidelines of personal hygiene. We at the agency feel deeply responsible that a situation like this has arisen due to our careless management of the artist. We sincerely apologize for causing concern and worry to fans who send love and attention [to our artists]. To prevent something like this from happening again, we will emphasize the importance of social distancing and personal hygiene to our artists and pay careful attention to ensure that our artists follow the guidelines. We once again bow our heads in apology.
We have confirmed that Cha Eun Woo went to the neighborhood of Itaewon on April 25. We apologize that he didn’t follow social distancing guidelines and caused concern due to our careless management. Cha Eun Woo did not go to the location that became a problem in early May with a confirmed case, and when we asked the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on if he is a subject for COVID-19 testing, we were told that it is not required if he does not have symptoms. However, he was tested for the health and safety of the artist and those around him, and he tested negative. No matter the reason, it was a thoughtless action for our artist Cha Eun Woo to visit the Itaewon area when the entire nation is practicing social distancing, and the artist himself is deeply reflecting on not faithfully contributing to the social distancing efforts. We promise to put in our full effort for an incident like this to not happen again by having all of our artists strictly follow the preventative guidelines. We apologize for causing concern.
We apologize for causing concern during a time when many people are struggling due to COVID-19. On April 25, Jaehyun visited a restaurant and bar in the neighborhood of Itaewon, but he did not go to the specific club that became a problem, and [Jaehyun’s visit to the neighborhood] took place seven days prior to the confirmed case. Jaehyun did not show symptoms, but when COVID-19 broke out in the club in Itaewon and started to spread, he voluntarily received a COVID-19 diagnosis test and tested negative. Jaehyun is deeply reflecting on the fact that he was not careful during the period of social distancing when everyone should be refraining from everyday gatherings. We also deeply apologize for failing to guide and manage our artist to ensure that he carefully follow social distancing protocols during his personal time as well. We will work harder on the management of our artists to prevent something like this from happening again. Once again, we apologize for causing concern to fans and many other people.