Scandals in KPop part 3

Posted on February 12, 2011


I was going to end this series of “Scandal” posts after two parts (you can read the other posts HERE and HERE), but there are a few more scandalous stories in KPop, which I thought would be particularly interesting to share with my readers!


An issue that can plague an artist, regardless of what field they may work in, is plagiarism; in recent memory, the KPop industry has been rocked with plagiarism issues in two unique ways – music and dance. These accusations can seriously damage an artist’s image and make their fans question the integrity of these artists.

One of the biggest stories in 2010 was the problems singer Lee Hyori faced with her album “H-Logic,” after it was found that many of the singles in the album had been copied from minor groups from the US. It was soon discovered that these accusations were true, but that they were the fault of ‘songwriter’ Bahnus, who had worked on Hyori’s (and other artists) album, consequently, he soon faced numerous lawsuits for which he was found guilty.

Singer Lee Hyori faced plagarism issues with her "H-Logic" album

Despite it not being Hyori’s fault, she soon issued an apology for the trouble, ceased promoting her album, cut ties with her management team and slowly slipped out of the limelight as a result. The consequences for such problems would’ve been much worse if Hyori had been personally involved in the plagiarizing in such cases artists would, not only be sued, but they’d also never be able to recover and make a comeback, as Hyori is lucky to be able to do for 2011.

Even dancing in KPop isn’t exempt from plagiarism issues; recently, artists have been caught out by dancers who claim their choreographed pieces had been copied. One example that springs to mind are girl group “After School,” and their single “Bang;” Their ‘school band’ concept immediately caught people’s attention and earned them praise from their fans- however,  an eagle-eyed dancer called Camilio from Germany, soon noticed the similarities between a dance that he had self choreographed and After Schools “Bang” video and put the industry in a frenzy with claims of plagiarism. After School’s management soon put out a statement refuting these claims, stating that dance was an expression of emotions, that 3 seconds worth of similar choreography was nothing to get upset about and that the dance had been created by their team of dancers in the US. However, Camilio hit back by posting up a side by side comparison video of his dance and the girl’s dance for comparison. He also put out a statement saying that he didn’t blame the girls themself but their team of choreographers and their management team for the way they handled the matter. Online netizens even stepped in to sort out the mess, with one creating their own side by side comparison video by way of staying neutral to both parties.  

In most cases the fault of these plagiarism issues can’t be put on the artists themselves as most of the material (songs and dance routines) they are given, are passed on to them by their management team, and I know it’s easy to say that the management should be blamed for not thoroughly checking such issues, but in reality, it’s hard to keep tabs on such things. Ultimately, these issues only arise out of greed and the person who should take the blame is the one who passes off somebody elses work as their own, without thinking about the damage this can do for those involved!

(Slave) Contract Issues

This is a scandal that strikes at the heart of KPop because it involves the human rights of the artists; since the original line up of TVXQ broke up in 2009, citing issues with the contracts they had with their management company (SM Entertainment), similar cases have slowly come out of the woodwork.

Some members of girl group Kara, have kicked off 2011 with their lawsuit

For TVXQ, the issues that some of the members faced with their management included the length of their contracts (up to 13 years), low pay and long working hours. Similarly, Hangeng, a former member of boy group “Super Junior,” also under the same management company as TVXQ, brought about a lawsuit against the company citing similar problems. More recently, 2011 kicked off to a rocky start when some members of girl group “Kara,” put together a lawsuit against their management, wanting to cut ties and ceasing their contracts with them. In their case, the girls are citing money as being one of the big issues; with Kara’s advancement into the Japanese music market, their parents felt that the girls were made to sign unfair contracts that they wouldn’t financially benefit from and that they’d be severely underpaid for their efforts.

Ex Super Junior member Hangeng won his lawsuit against his record company

All of these lawsuits tend to drag on for a very long time; TVXQ’s and Kara’s (as of February 2011) are still ongoing, whilst Hangeng’s was resolved after nearly a year, with him being able to leave his company without having to pay serious fines as a result.

Reactions to such lawsuits have been varied; fans are, understandably, distressed at the thought that their artists are working long hours with little to no pay. Recent statistics go as far as to say that modern KPop stars are earning less than the average office worker does, but I don’t know if they take into account the potential earnings artists can have from endorsing products and performing gigs?  On the flip side, some artists from SM Entertainment (who have gained notoriety for their ‘slave contracts’), such as BoA and Super Junior member Choi Siwon  have expressed that they dislike the term ‘slave contract,’ and that there is no such thing within their company.

Either way, entering into the KPop business is a risky thing; in a previous post “The beginnings of a KPop Idol,” I pointed out some of the tough realities any potential KPop artist has to face whilst starting out- after such hardships, it’s (understandably) hard for fans to imagine, let alone hear that their artists might not be facing a much better life with fame and popularity either. All this just adds to the seemingly never-ending pitfalls and ‘scandals’ modern-day KPop artists face.

Posted in: K-Pop Newbie