SEOUL • While a list of female celebrities allegedly involved in prostitution has been circulating for the past week, some of those named - including a number of K-pop singers - are vehemently protesting against the rumours in an unprecedented string of public statements.
Last Saturday, Yubin of girl group Wonder Girls issued a statement via her agency, JYP Entertainment, calling the rumours "completely false" and vowing to take legal action against those circulating the list.
Subin of girl group Dal Shabet followed suit the next day. On Monday, Yang Ji Wong of girl group Spica also released a statement decrying the rumours, as did actresses Kang So Ra, Nam Bo Ra and Shin Se Kyung, who each released a statement the same day.
The quick and aggressive responses appear to be prompted in part by the impact the rumours might have on their global fans, as K-pop entertainers are increasingly reaching out overseas.
"Dal Shabet performed in Japan last week and are scheduled to appear in Taiwan next week," a representative for Happy Face Entertainment, the girl group's label, said on Wednesday.
The list "may not spread as quickly abroad as in Korea, but we are still worried how it might affect our overseas activities if it were to reach global fans".
Another major concern was the lightning speed at which the list spread through messaging apps and social media, said the representative.
"The list reached so many people and the names of all the celebrities were revealed so openly. People began to take it for granted that the rumours were true when they are absolutely false. That's why we decided to react aggressively."
The list in question has the names of 10 female entertainers - including actresses, singers and trainees - and the fees they allegedly receive for engaging in prostitution.
The list began circulating after two brokers were arrested last month on charges of arranging prostitution deals between Korean female entertainers and clients abroad.
Prosecutors subsequently began an investigation of four entertainers alleged to have been involved in the prostitution scheme.
Among the investigated were an unnamed member of a K-pop girl group and a well-known singer, who confessed to receiving some 35 million won (S$41,000) in return for providing sex to a Korean-American businessman.
"The list began to spread around the time these events took place," said an entertainment industry insider. "That timing has caused many to think that those on the list are guilty, which is extremely unfair. These types of rumours are fatal for female girl group members, which is why we reacted immediately."
THE KOREA HERALD/ASIA NEWS NETWORK