HYBE has issued a formal apology following multiple reports of security guards performing underwear searches and touching private parts during an &TEAM fansigning in Seoul.
Fans at the event trended “#underwearsearch” in Korea, as many testified that &TEAM staff touched the breasts and underwear of fans for hidden devices.
One wrote, “They touched us to check for Apple Watches or electronic devices in case we’d record [the event], but it wasn’t at the level of just skimming; instead, they touched us here and there and poked us, and it was sexual molestation.”
Another recalled, “They said they’d touch my breasts, and then after touching them, they asked, ‘This is a watch, right?’ and took me to a small space where they asked me to lift my clothing. They pressed me so aggressively that I had no choice but to lift my clothing, but then someone else opened the door, walked in, and watched my underwear being searched. I felt so ashamed, and it felt like my human rights had hit the floor.”
Yet another fan wrote, “They pressed hard on my upper breasts and also pressed hard on my lower breasts, and it was nearly to the point of a sexual caress, so I told them, ‘Those are my breasts.’” The fan also complained that even though they did not find anything after taking her to a different room and searching her underwear, they did not apologize and brusquely asked her to leave the room.
In response, HYBE has issued an apology and explanation.
We would like to apologize to the fans who attended &TEAM’s in-person fan signing event on July 8 regarding the security body check that was carried out by female security guards.
Fan signing events are a place where artists and fans talk one-on-one, and if recordings are leaked to the public, it might not be good for the fan and the artist. So to prevent such a situation from arising, we have always strictly limited [fans from] bringing in electronic equipment that makes recording possible. Up until now, many fans have actively cooperated with this practice.
However, because there have been several instances of [fans] hiding electronic equipment on their bodies to bring them in, a body check was carried out on July 8 by female security guards to check for this. We apologize to the fans who attended the event with happy hearts for making you uncomfortable.
Even if it was a security issue, we are aware that it is not an acceptable excuse for making fans uncomfortable. We sincerely apologize that this kind of incident happened at the event.
We will make plans for improvements, such as introducing contact-free methods for security checks, and we will try to make it possible for fans to participate in fan signing events with artists in a more comfortable and happy environment.
All the articles say sexual harassment, but it seems like sexual assault at that point. I’m not sure anything but red flags at the airport even lead to that kind of invasive in-person search, as touching private parts with your hands isn’t even allowed in pat-downs.
And honestly? I feel worse for the fans after the explanation. I could’ve maybe understood if they had serious security concerns like death threats or something of that matter, but the fact that this was all over basically worrying that leaks would emerge, and that they proceeded to blame the fans for it happening, is just silly.