Earlier this morning, the K-pop world was sent into a frenzy following a report by Korean media outlet Dispatch accusing iKON’s leader B.I (whose real name is Kim Han Bin) of attempting to purchase drugs in 2016. Things escalated quickly — within the span of a few hours, the fallen idol admitted to the claims and announced that he will be quitting the band.
For those who’ve yet to get caught up with the whirlwind of events, here’s the lowdown on how the allegations unfolded.
Dispatch drops the news
Fans woke up to an exclusive report by Dispatch on B.I’s drug accusations, which contained transcripts of KakaoTalk messages exchanged between the K-pop star and a drug dealer back in April 2019. In the conversation, B.I attempted to purchase marijuana and LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) from the dealer and even asked for a discount for bulk orders.
B.I then urged the latter to delete the chats to avoid being caught by authorities. The anonymous offender in question was subsequently arrested for violating the drug law, which led to the police digging up the suspicious convo during investigations.
YG Entertainment reportedly refuted the claims in a statement to Dispatch via a phone call, asserting that B.I has no relations to the drug case and that none of the iKON members were tested positive in their urine examination, which was recently conducted ahead of their promotions.
B.I quits the band
Just hours after, B.I took to Instagram to issue an apology and announce his departure from iKON. Although he denied taking drugs, the idol admitted to having “interest” in it during a period when he was going through a tough time. He continued, “Nonetheless, I feel ashamed and apologetic towards my fans who are greatly disappointed because of my inappropriate actions. I intend to humbly self-reflect on my mistake and leave the group.”
It was also reported that the production teams of JTBC’s Grand Buda-Guest and SBS’ Law of the Jungle would be completely editing out B.I’s parts in the upcoming broadcasts. The iKON member had been a regular cast member of Grand Buda-Guest since its premiere on 3 June, while the Law of the Jungle episode that he had appeared in was originally scheduled to air on 15 June.
YG confirms B.I’s departure from iKON
Following B.I’s shocking announcement, YG Entertainment has released an official statement confirming his departure from iKON. Below is the full translation courtesy of Soompi:
“This is YG Entertainment.
We bow our heads and apologise for disappointing everyone with our artiste Kim Han Bin’s problem. Kim Han Bin is feeling the heavy responsibility due to the impact of this matter and has decided to terminate his exclusive contract and leave the team.
YG has become keenly aware of our responsibility in managing our artistes. Once again, we sincerely apologise for causing concern.”
This isn’t the first time that YG Entertainment has been embroiled in drug-related scandals – former BIGBANG member Seungri was involved in a series of snowballing allegations earlier this year. Amidst B.I’s turmoil, YG’s head Yang Hyun Suk is also under suspicion for arranging prostitution services for foreign investors as well as tax evasion.
Since the arrival of the Hallyu wave upon our shores, there has been an ever-growing amount of Korean pop enthusiasts in Singapore. In addition to consuming all things Korean – be it food, beauty or music – it seems that local K-pop fans have also gotten around to embodying the Korean fan culture.
The Korean pop fandom is known to be one of the most prominent, if not passionate in the world. Not only are they superbly loyal, they are also arguably amongst the most creative in showcasing their support for their favourite idols. Fan support projects such as cup sleeve events, special slogans for concerts, and even subway advertisements are a common sight in South Korea – and it is often built into an international fan’s itinerary when they visit the country.
Though it may be fun to soak up the fan culture with other like-minded individuals in the country of origin, there’s often an absence in a sense of belonging for international fans. Perhaps this might be the reason why there has been an increase in the global fan community’s adoption of the Korean fan culture, especially here in Singapore.
To give you a brief breakdown of what it’s about, here’s an insight into different aspects of the Hallyu effect in our little red dot.
During BTS’ concert back in January, a specially designed BTS bus had made its way around the island in support of the supergroup. While it may have seemed like a professional advertisement paid for by the organisers, you might be surprised to know that this effort was actually funded by fans. Inspired by Korean fans who are no strangers to investing in bus ads since 2016, local ARMYs made this hefty contribution in order to celebrate the milestone of BTS being the first Korean act to stage a National Stadium gig. Sure, it might seem like a waste of money to some, but for these fans who have loyally followed and supported the group, it’s a badge of honour that’s worth everything.
If you’ve been to Korean cafes such as Coffeesmith or Plus Eighty-Two, you might have encountered a surprising surge in the number of patrons at least once or twice. Often decorated with large posters, images and balloon alphabets around the cafe, this phenomenon is known as a cup sleeve event – where fans gather to celebrate the anniversary of a K-pop act, a member’s birthday, or an achievement made by the group.
Fans are required to purchase a drink in order to get the exclusively designed cup sleeve that commemorates the event. On top of the cup sleeves, the venue also acts as a mini marketplace where fan support groups set up shop to sell their personally designed idol merchandises such as keychains, photo strips, photo cards and banners for a reasonable price.
While it might seem impractical to an outsider, it’s a commendable effort on the fans’ part if you were to look at the minute details that helped to piece the whole event together. Not only did fans tap on their creativity, they also had to handle logistics and budgeting all on their own – and these are skills that can’t really be taught.
Probably one of the most familiar forms of fan culture, fanchants are either introduced by the idols themselves through guide videos, or created by fans as a form of accompaniment to live performances on weekly music shows such as Music Bank, Music Core and Inkigayo.
Though they may not have the luxury of seeing their favourite idols perform every week, international fans still found a way to replicate the fanchants at concerts held in their country. In spite of the language barriers, it’s worth applauding that fanchants are always done in unison and with as much fervour as their Korean counterparts – which often gets reciprocated with deserved recognition from the idols themselves.
A common sight at concerts in Korea, these card-stock banners have also made their way to Singapore and are now an expected item to receive at every K-pop show here. Not to be mistaken as official merchandise, these goodies are designed and printed for concertgoers by fellow fans to hold up during a selected song in the setlist. This fan act has become such a norm in the scene that big names such as BTS, who were here in January as part of their Love Yourself tour, also took a picture with the slogans after the concert to show their appreciation.
The unique selling point of a K-pop fandom is often found in the accompanying gear that fans bring for concerts, performances or fanmeets. Commonly referred to as lightsticks, each K-pop act usually has one designed in line with their personality and overall image, such as the pink hammer for BLACKPINK and the ARMY Bomb for BTS.
While it makes sense for Korean fans to own a lightstick due to the frequency of events they can attend, many would agree that it isn’t exactly a practical purchase for overseas fans. But that doesn’t stop them from purchasing these official lightsticks, which are usually available for purchase at merchandise booths during concerts. We can definitely see the appeal, however – not only does it form a collective bond with everyone in the audience, it also helps to create a unique and all-inclusive ambience that cannot be replicated in any other genres of the same setting. This is a concept that seems to only work best in the Korean pop sphere, and perhaps that’s the reason why it has become such a popular item to own amongst local K-pop fans.
If you’ve been to Seoul, you might have noticed the ad panels along the walkways of subway stations which are often rented out to celebrate an idol’s anniversary, birthday or any other special occasion. These locations have been unconsciously set aside for such commemorative displays, thus becoming somewhat of a tourist attraction amongst domestic and international K-pop fans.
Though this presentation of fan support has yet to gain traction overseas, it seems that Singapore fans have decided to give it a go by replicating it at our very own MRT station. Funded by a group of hardened BTS fans, the inaugural ad space at Dhoby Ghaut MRT station was taken over by a BTS banner to commemorate the group’s sixth anniversary that falls on 13 June. Though the news of this celebratory advertisement has garnered plenty of skeptical feedbacks from the general public, it’s safe to say that the negativity doesn’t damper the fans’ spirits. For them, it’s a space that they’ve paid for to celebrate a significant milestone in their idol’s journey, and like proud parents, it’s their way of showing their appreciation to the people they admire.
When it comes to surprise fan projects, there’s really no one else who does it better than K-pop fans. In addition to the fanmade banners and fanchants, fans have also started to surprise their favourite idols with special video montages at the end of a concert. Organised and compiled by the local fanclub, these heartfelt videos serve as a message of gratitude to the idols who have greatly impacted their lives. Even if you’re a non-fan in the crowd, it’s impossible not to feel moved by the touching gesture.
In spite of the public negativity fans usually get from observers who are unaware of the deep-rooted fan culture, there is no stopping them from actively displaying their love for the artistes close to their hearts. Say what you will about K-pop fans, but this is one fandom that truly knows how to show their pride and dedication for their favourite acts.
At the end of the day, it’s a clear sign that the Hallyu power is still going strong, and it shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
Since her debut eight years ago as part of K-pop girl group Apink, Jeong Eun Ji has branched out to become a bit of a Jill of all trades, adding actress, songwriter and solo artiste to her list of accomplishments.
Which is probably why it comes as no surprise that her years in the industry has garnered her a large local fan following, who turned up in full force on the night of 9 June to support the songstress at her debut concert in Singapore. Despite helming the stage as a solo act, Eun Ji didn’t take long to prove that she was more than capable to handle the two-hour long show on her own. From her stellar OST covers to live band performances, here are five moments that made us stan the vocal queen.
#1 When she showed just how much of a powerhouse vocalist she is
Though it’s already well known that Eun Ji has a perfect set of pipes, this fact was reiterated the moment she took the stage. Not only was she more than well-prepared with a setlist full of fan favourites, there were also songs that showed off her unbeatable vocal prowess. Accompanied by a live band, Eun Ji set her sights on making it an unforgettable night for local Pandas, and boy were we blown away by her impeccable performances!
If there’s one thing that fans usually look forward to from their favourite K-pop idols, it’s the fan service – and nobody does it quite like Eun Ji. During a short break in between her performances, the singer brought out a box that contained requests and questions that fellow Pandas had written before the concert started, where she gladly indulged their every whim. Be it granting us sexy poses, doing an adorable Mashimaro impression or performing a duet with a lucky fan, Eun Ji delivered them all with ease.
#3 When she covered songs in both English and Mandarin
Besides serenading the crowd with her own songs, Eun Ji had a couple of surprises up her sleeves as well, which included cover songs by English and Chinese artistes. One in particular was ‘那些年’, the soundtrack of the 2011 hit film You Are the Apple of My Eye. Having only performed this song in Taiwan and Hong Kong, Eun Ji had added this track to the setlist as a surprise gift for Singapore Pandas who definitely enjoyed every minute of it.
[Eunji Hyehwa SG] So so proud of our Apink main vocal, Eunji a korean singer covering chinese song 那些年 and hitting all the high notes perfectly da queen pic.twitter.com/T0u6QkLLqI
#4 When she brought back memories of beloved K-dramas
What makes a good K-drama aside from the obvious factors? Well, it’s the music. As a vocalist who has lent her voice to a couple of OSTs, Eun Ji gave us major throwback feels as she delighted the audience with flawless renditions of familiar tunes from Strong Woman Do Bong Soon and Goblin.
#5 When she made our day with her exuberant personality
Part of what makes Eun Ji such a joy to watch, is her bubbly and humorous personality that sets her apart from the rest. Not only did she engage in playful banter with the fans, she was also incredibly comfortable in front of the crowd. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why the Apink darling is so well-loved amongst fans. Not only does she feel like someone you’ve known for a long time, but she also has a way of making you feel constantly engaged during her show, even without external theatrics or high energy dance numbers.
Given the success of Jeong Eun Ji’s first solo concert here, this definitely won’t be the last we will see of her. And who knows, maybe she might just invite five other special guests to join her here the next round!
Get ready, NCTzens! Local concert organiser One Production just dropped the news that NCT 127 will be heading to Singapore for their first world tour NEO CITY: The Origin.
Since kicking off their tour in Seoul back in January, the K-pop outfit has gone on to perform an ambitious string of arena shows in North America and Europe – and they show no signs of losing steam as they continue their trek towards global domination. There’s no doubting their burgeoning popularity in Asia either; the Bangkok leg of their tour that is set to take place this June, was sold out in a matter of minutes. Their next stop to conquer? Singapore!
Slated to perform at the Singapore Indoor Stadium come July, NCT 127 will be bringing the house down with a fiery mix of fan-favourite hits such as ‘Cherry Bomb’, ‘Fire Truck’ and ‘Limitless’ as well as new tracks off their latest EP We Are Superhuman.
NCT 127 WORLD TOUR ‘NEO CITY SINGAPORE – The Origin Date: 20 July 2019 Time: 5pm Venue: Singapore Indoor Stadium Tickets: $288, $248, $208, $168
Tickets will go on sale 23 June, 12pm across all SportsHubTix ticketing channels. Singtel customers can enjoy an exclusive pre-sale on 22 June, 10am to 11.59pm.
Meanwhile, check out the music video for their latest comeback track ‘Superhuman’:
We’ve got bad news, however: the race promoters have just announced that Cardi B had to regretfully cancel her scheduled performance due to “a major rescheduling of her September and October tour”. Earlier this month, the ‘Press’ rap star had reportedly cancelled a number of upcoming shows in order to “recover from plastic surgery”, including the Manchester music spectacle Parklife Festival that just concluded this weekend.
LATEST ENTERTAINMENT UPDATE We regret to announce Cardi B has cancelled her performance at the #F1NightRace due a major rescheduling of her September and October tour. pic.twitter.com/yL0ZFHg0UY
But the show must go on! Taking her headlining slot is none other than American singer-songwriter Gwen Stefani, who will be bringing an epic set of crowd-favourite hits to the Padang Stage on 21 September. This marks her long-awaited return to our shores more than a decade after her last appearance here, where she performed to a sold-out crowd at the Singapore Indoor Stadium as part of her 2007 The Sweet Escape tour.
The Formula 1 Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix 2019 will be taking place from 20 to 22 September at the Marina Bay Street Circuit.
Tickets to catch Gwen Stefani’s concert and the Formula 1 Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix 2019 start from $188 for a single-day Saturday ticket and $278 for a three-day ticket. For more information, head over to www.singaporegp.sg