After Cube Entertainment kicked out Seo Soojin from (G)I-DLE, international fans have launched a petition to bring her back to the K-pop girl group.
Last Aug. 14, Cube Entertainment announced that Soojin had left (G)I-DLE. Soojin’s withdrawal from (G)I-DLE came amid bullying allegations by her former middle schoolmates including Korean actress Seo Shin-ae, who is famous for her role in the 2009 sitcom “High Kick Through the Roof.”
“Firstly, we deeply apologize for eliciting concerns over the controversy surrounding our artist Seo Soojin. We have decided on Seo Soojin’s withdrawal from the team effective today [Aug. 14],” said Cube Entertainment.
It added, “(G)I-DLE will resume their promotions as a quintet from now on, and we will dedicate our best efforts to support (G)I-DLE for them to present sincere music and performances.”
In a petition posted on change.org, fans defended Soojin and demanded Cube Entertainment to explain its decision.
“WE WANT OUR SOOJIN BACK!! She does NOT deserve ANY of this. Even IF (we didn’t even get an explanation) she made mistakes, kicking her out of (G)I-DLE is NOT a solution! (G)I-DLE is and forever will be 6. BRING SOOJIN BACK, CUBE! GIVE US AN EXPLANATION!! JUSTICE FOR SOOJIN!!” according to the petition.
It added, “Soojin was FALSELY accused of school bullying (which was YEARS ago) and had a fight with her friend when she was 12. Isn’t it ridiculous to kick somebody out of the group because of that?? We got no explanation, Soojin didn’t even get to speak up about it!! JUSTICE FOR SOOJIN!!”
As of writing, the petition has garnered more than 130,000 signatures.
(G)I-DLE released their album “I Burn” last January and school violence allegations against Soojin surfaced in February.
Soojin, 23, and Seo Shin-ae, 22, both attended the Waw Middle School located in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi Province in South Korea. Middle school in Korea is for 12 to 15 years old.
Seo Shin-ae was not the original accuser of bullying allegations against Soojin. A Korean netizen posted online and claimed that Soojin called her younger sister and her friend to the bathroom and made them slap each other. The netizen also claimed Soojin slapped the younger sister, took her money and bullied her. Soojin and the younger sister were classmates at Waw Middle School.
After the allegations came out, Seo Shin-ae posted an Instagram story and wrote, “None of your excuse.”
Soojin posted a statement on Cube Entertainment’s U Cube app and denied the allegations against her.
“First, I have never assaulted my friend. Second, I have never ridden a motorcycle. Third, I have never sent a group text message to bully someone. Fourth, I did not steal any school uniform or other belongings. Fifth, I never had a conversation with actress Seo Shin-ae in school,” she said.
Soojin explained that she wore clothes that did not suit her age and smoked a few cigarettes out of curiosity but she has never smoked since then.
Regarding her classmate, Soojin said she considered her as a friend. She said she had memories of eating at her friend’s house and watching a movie with her and her older sister. She said the reason why she and her classmate quarreled was because her friend broke her promise.
“It was not just once or twice and I remember being upset about it. I did not know she was trying to keep me away. That is why I’m so embarrassed but I remember cursing at her . The older sister answered her phone and she scolded me. I said sorry to her sister and hung up. After that, we became completely separated and had bad feelings for each other. I am sorry for causing controversy over my personal life. I apologize to all those who have been hurt by the embarrassing behavior,” she said.
On March 4, Cube Entertainment announced that Soojin would go on hiatus, saying, “Soojin has stopped all activities, and (G)I-DLE will continue their activities as five members for the time being.”
Cube Entertainment said it checked with Soojin’s school, teachers and a number of alumni and “as a result of what we have confirmed so far, as we previously stated, that the dispute over the phone is true but we have not confirmed the facts about the violence being claimed by other posts’ authors,” it said.
It added, “In order to verify the truth, our company proposed a face-to-face meeting between the parties, not the author of the post and representative. But everyone refused so no meeting between the parties took place.”
The statement did not sit well with Korean fans of (G)I-DLE. On March 5, the (G)I-DLE gallery on the community portal DC Inside issued a second statement demanding Cube Entertainment to finally resolve if Soojin committed school violence or not.
Last March 19, Soojin wrote to clarify the bullying allegations against her and said she never had any conversation with Seo Shin-ae while they were in school and denied putting cigarettes on her desk or stealing her graduation letters.
“I neither bullied nor talked behind Seo’s back. My management company contacted her agency, but it did not respond. I demand Seo clarify her stance on the issue,” said Soojin, according to the Korea Times.
Seo Shin-ae directly answered Soojin’s demand and claimed she bullied her in middle school.
In an Instagram post on March 26, Seo Shin-ae accused Soojin and her friends of talking behind her back.
“Wherever I went, they laughed and cursed at me. They said they couldn’t believe how an unattractive girl like me became a celebrity. Some of them even said I was a washed-up actress. All of that may have been just meaningless remarks for them, but I still feel the pain. I came to fear people and became more introverted. I learned from this experience that psychological violence can inflict severe damage on people,” Seo Shin-ae posted.
The actress added, “A few weeks ago, she said she did not remember everything and that she had never spoken to me in the past. Yes, she is right ― all of those remarks were one-sided insults. But it is a pity to see her denying what she did to me behind my back.”
(G)I-DLE recently bagged a nomination for Best K-pop for “DUMDi DUMDi” at the 2021 MTV Video Music Awards, which will be aired live on Sept. 12.