This weekend has been an emotional whirlwind in the K-pop community as ex-member Mina from the popular girl group, AOA exposed details of the intense bullying and harassment she endured for ten years while during her traineeship and her time as an idol.
Her series of posts on her personal Instagram began after she posted a screenshot of a netizen who messaged her, “Get lost, b*tch”. Mina’s post reads as followed:
All translations are courtesy of Soompi and Koreaboo, and edited for clarity.
“I really, really want to get lost too but I have to take care of my mum. I had to earn money from a young age because my family was struggling. Around the time of my dad’s passing, I cried once in the waiting room and one of the unnies [older members] told me that I was ruining everyone’s mood and told me not to cry, dragging me to the closet of the waiting room. I told her I was so scared at the thought of my dad dying. Other bullying incidents? Other profanities? I can deal with them, even though they hurt… I knew I had to do well during the scheduled activities but I could feel myself breaking more and more. Because of her, I once tried to attempt suicide.
“I’m okay with not being acknowledged as an idol or an actor. I’m very bad at it and I’m still lacking a lot. But I’ve been so happy doing it and I worked really hard. It’s a job I really love. To be honest, I really didn’t want to leave AOA but because of one person who hated me, I was bullied for ten years. In the end, I gave up AOA. I don’t need people to like me or be interested in me… can’t people just leave me alone?”
Mina shared in her second post that she felt too scared to visit her father, who was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer, in the hospital as she was afraid of getting targeted by Jimin.
“I knew he would pass away soon but because I thought she would tell me off again [and] we were making a comeback, I didn’t want to negatively affect the other members as we were promoting. I felt like I couldn’t get caught up in thoughts about my dad so I couldn’t visit him at the hospital—what if I start crying during a scheduled activity? What if she says something to me again? I was so young and I thought that was what I needed to do. I thought that was the right thing to do and I didn’t want to get told off anymore. So I could have seen my dad more but I didn’t.”
Mina then revealed distressing information about how this led to her depression and self-harming tendencies:
Trigger warning: The following quote describes the act of self-harm.
“Because of you, I took numerous pills and because I cut my left wrist so much, the nerves are damaged so it stings and aches. But when I look at my mum, I feel the will to live and I need to go make money. So I’m working hard to undergo scar treatment although I still have nightmares…”
During this time, AOA’s leader Jimin took to her Instagram and posted a story of a black screen with the word “fiction”, which she soon deleted. Mina did not reveal the name of the particular member she was talking about but netizens soon connected the dots after Jimin’s post.
In her next Instagram post, Mina shared evidence of her self-harm scars and explicitly refers to Jimin, confirming suspicions.
Trigger warning: image of self-harm
“Fiction? This is too scary to even be called fiction. I underwent three to four rounds of scar treatment and it’s become fainter. But I’m going crazy every day because your memory won’t disappear, Jimin. Laws? Lawsuits? I don’t have the money to do that. Psychological damages? I don’t need any of it. I’m just so, so sad that I’m so broken because of you. What I want is for you to come to me and admit your faults and sincerely apologise to me. The person who tormented me seems to be totally fine so admit your faults and apologise so I can let go of what’s built up in my heart. Okay?”
Mina then shares other instances of bullying by Jimin including body-shaming, physical abuse and profanity:
“Every time we got a new manager, you’d say that I was scary and just pretending to be stupid…and when I worked hard on a diet so that my face would look nicer, you’d say, “Mina, what’s wrong with your body? I hate seeing it. Gain some weight.”
“When we were trainees, you’d hit me and say it was because I was at the front. We’d have to say, ‘Did you have a good night’s rest?’, ‘Yes, I’m sorry, ’ and ‘Thank you’ in a formal tone to you. Everything had to go your way. That’s only the light stuff. There are so many things that were so much worse over the ten years.”
Since then, Mina has been struggling with severe depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts. She also shared that she told her agency, FNC Entertainment, about the bullying which fell on deaf ears.
“Your existence caused me stress. All I’m left with is this mental illness—I’d have stress-induced convulsions and collapse. I’d attempt to commit suicide and collapse. My mum would cry and my sister is battling cancer, but they’d have to keep going to the emergency room because of me. But the person who made me like this is you. The person who made my family suffer is you. Because of me, my mum is also suffering from depression. Did you know? You are the one person who makes me not want to live—I’m serious, you’re the only reason. It’s finally boiling over after being pent up. I can’t hold it in anymore, I can’t hide it anymore.”
Mina then shared a message of encouragement to those suffering through similar circumstances:
“To all those who are suffering because of someone. Fight. Don’t hold it in. Or grab someone and tell them. Sleeping pills? Don’t take them. It will never end. Don’t live like me. Don’t hold it in. Do everything you want to do and express yourself. Please live like that.”
On July 4, Mina revealed on her Instagram that Jimin, along with other members of AOA and their managers, went to her home to apologise and talk things through.
“A few hours ago, all of the [AOA] members and managers came to my house, and we talked. At first, Jimin came in angry, and I was in disbelief. After arguing, she asked where the knives were, and if it would be enough if she died. Eventually, we sat down and talked, and she said she didn’t remember what happened.”
She shared that Jimin eventually apologised for her actions.
“I continued to talk to her, and after listening, [Jimin] said she was sorry. No matter how it turned out, I did receive an apology, and I decided to accept it. [Jimin] left, and with the remaining members, I promised to pull myself together and stop thinking of taking any extreme measures, and that was it.”
However, Mina also states that she doubts Jimin’s sincerity in her apology and admits it still does not change the way she views her.
“To be honest, at first, when I first saw Jimin, I wondered if she actually felt any sort of guilt. But regardless, she said sorry many times…I truly didn’t see any intention from her to sincerely apologise, but this could be because of my own sense of inferiority, or it could be that I just want to see it that way since I’m so mad at her…The image of her coming over angry is what’s continually playing in my head.”
There has been an outpouring of encouragement and support from netizens who are worried for Mina’s current state of mind. Mina has promised that she will continue to seek professional help.
“Moving forward, I’m going to regain my composure and work hard and continue to receive treatment. I won’t be making any more of a fuss about this. I’m as broken as can be so it’s not going to be an immediate recovery, but I’m going to try. It’s also what I agreed to do…”
Jimin finally posted on her social media, addressing the situation and expressed how guilty she felt.
“I can’t put everything I want to say in a short message, but I feel apologetic, and I’m sorry. I was lacking while leading my team, it was all my mistake. I feel regretful and guilty that during the time we were together, I was not able to understand Mina, and I don’t think I was looking out for her, I was careless. Even yesterday, I cried and begged and cried again. Nevertheless, I am very sorry to Mina, as her feelings about me won’t be easily resolved. I’m sorry for creating this controversy. And most of all, I’m sincerely sorry to Mina and the members who have worked so hard for both of us.”
The message of apology was not enough for the netizens who soon called for more serious repercussions. Shortly after, FNC Entertainment announced that Jimin would be leaving the group and retiring from the industry.
“This is FNC Entertainment. First, we would like to apologize for causing concern to many people through the events related to Jimin that have been unfolding recently.
“From this moment forth, Jimin has decided to leave AOA and halt all her activities in the entertainment industry.
“Additionally, our agency accepts responsibility for this entire situation, and we will put our full focus on managing our artists [in the future]. Once again, we apologise for causing concern through these unfortunate matters.”
FNC Entertainment has been under fire several times in the past for their unprofessionalism and ethics, ranging from not paying artists for five years to covering the involvement of CN Blue’s Jonghyun in the Burning Sun Scandal.
If you or anyone you know is suffering from depression or self-harming thoughts, please do not hesitate to reach out to Befrienders KL by visiting this website or calling 03 7627 2929.
Alternatively, we’ve also put up a Mental Health Directory here.
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