SEOUL • When Twice singer Jihyo dismissed haters in a recent online chat, some netizens were not happy that she used a Korean term that is viewed as humiliating to men. The 22-year-now has now apologised, tracing her outburst to her struggle coping with fame since early last year.
In a long online post, she wrote: "After completely unfounded rumours about me came out in March last year, I became more scared about appearing in front of people."
In March last year, rumours began circulating that a member of a girl group was in the sex videos found on disgraced singer and convicted rapist Jung Joon-young's phone. Jihyo was one of several stars speculated to be that girl-group member, but the rumours were swiftly shut down by her label JYP Entertainment, which said then that it was seeking legal action against those who started malicious rumours against its artists.
Jihyo was later spotted crying at Gimpo International Airport.
Jihyo revealed that she cried at the airport because "I was so scared about what those people thought of me and how they saw me".
Her romance with singer Kang Daniel, 23, was another source of tension for her.
"In August, my private life became known, and there were a lot of rumours as well. Because of that, my anxiety and fear became so overwhelming that saying just one thing, or performing, in front of people was scary and hard."
Recalling Twice's performance in Japan on Dec 3, she said: "I cried from fear and wanted to hide."
She found it hard to breathe when the group performed at last year's Mnet Asian Music Awards in Nagoya.
When the group returned to Seoul, she added: "I was worried that I would cry again, so I came back at a different time than the other Twice members."
Jihyo said she is not hoping to draw sympathy but "just wanted to explain why I ended up expressing my feelings in a negative way towards someone" in the online chat.
Fans have responded to say that there is no need for her to say sorry, urging her to be strong in an industry that recently saw two singers, Sulli and Goo Hara, being found dead in their homes.
The two were reportedly also hounded by haters over matters, such as their love lives.
This article has been edited for clarity.