Four major South Korean entertainment companies apologised on behalf of their artists after a website reported that four K-pop stars had visited clubs in Seoul’s Itaewon on April 25.
The companies confirmed Korean tabloid Dispatch’s report that among those who visited the clubs were BTS’s Jungkook, Seventeen’s Mingyu, NCT’s Jaehyun, and ASTRO’s Cha Eun Woo and apologised on their behalf for breaking social distancing rules.
Reuters reported last Friday that around 150 cases had been linked to the outbreak from the clubs in Itaewon nightlife district, including clubgoers as well as secondary infections in family members, co-workers, and students.
Jungkook, Mingyu, Jaehyun, and Cha Eun Woo did not show symptoms of COVID-19 and tested negative for the virus, the companies said.
Agencies for Jungkook, Jaehyun, and Cha Eun Woo sought to emphasise that the artists had not visited the club that was the source of the cases and their visit took place one week before the first case was confirmed in the area.
These are the four companies’ statements as quoted by entertainment site Allkpop.
Big Hit Entertainment’s statement on Jungkook:
“This is our statement on Jungkook visiting Itaewon.
First, we’d like to bring up how various media outlets had called us about whether Jungkook visited Itaewon or not last week, and how our handling of the situation was problematic.
It is true that Jungkook visited Itaewon. He did not go to the problematic place where the patient in early May had the confirmed case, and he went about a week beforehand. He followed the government regulations and voluntarily got checked for Corona-19, and we decided that it was not our place to interfere in his personal life.
However, we have no excuse that we placed the artist’s personal life before we were able to emphasize the importance of social distancing. We bow our head in apology.
Jungkook visited the restaurant and bar with his friends on the night of April 25th. Afterward, he did not have a cough or a fever, and his results came out negative. He is also deeply regretting on how he did not follow social distancing measures seriously.
Big Hit Entertainment is currently doing our best to follow Corona-19 prevention measures such as social distancing. We will work harder to make sure this does not happen again. We apologize for worrying many people, including fans.”
SM Entertainment’s statement on Jaehyun:
“Hello, this is SM Entertainment. We apologize for causing concern during times when many people are facing hardships due to corona-19. Jaehyun visited an Itaewon restaurant and a bar on April 25th with his friends. However, he did not visit the specific club that was problematic, and it was 7 days before the confirmed patient was in Itaewon. Jaehyun does not have symptoms but as corona-19 spread through the Itaewon club, he voluntarily got tested and the results came back negative. He is currently deeply reflecting on not having been careful despite everyone limiting contact and practicing social distancing. Our label should have also managed our artist so he practiced social distancing even during his personal life, and we apologize for being lacking. We will work harder to manage our artists so something like this does not happen again.”
Fantagio Entertainment’s statement on Cha Eun Woo:
“Hello, this is Fantagio Entertainment.
We have confirmed that Cha Eun Woo visited Itaewon on April 25th. We apologize for being careless in our management and causing concern by not following social distancing measures.
Cha Eun Woo did not go to the problematic place where there was a confirmed patient. We were told that if he did not have symptoms, it was not mandatory that he get tested. However, for the safety and health of the people around the artist, he had already gotten tested, and his results were negative.
No matter the reason, it was improper for Cha Eun Woo to visit Itaewon while the entire nation is following social distancing measures. He is also deeply reflecting on his actions.
We promise to do our best so in the future, our artists strictly follow the regulations. We apologize for causing concern.”
Pledis Entertainment’s statement on Mingyu:
“Hello, this is Pledis Entertainment.
First, we apologize for causing concern to many because of the reports of Seventeen’s Mingyu visiting Itaewon. Mingyu is currently deeply reflecting on his wrong actions where he did not follow social distancing measures while they were in place.
He followed the government suggestions and voluntarily got tested for corona-19 even though he did not have a cough or a fever or any other corona-19 symptoms. He tested negative, and has been staying at home and following personal hygiene measures strictly.
Our label takes responsibility for not properly managing our label artist. We sincerely apologize to the fans who always show us love and interest. Pledis Entertainment will re-emphasize how important social distancing and personal hygiene matters are to our artist.”
Many of the bars and nightclubs in Itaewon cater to LGBT+ people and South Korea had last week announced several measures to protect the privacy of people coming forward for testing.
Reuters reported there had been a surge in anti-gay comments online after the new cases were reported from the area and LGBT+ campaigners called for anti-discrimination laws and health support services to protect the community.