Fans Allege Their Underwear Was Searched at Fansign Event Held by Major K-Pop Company HYBE
According to Soompi, fans alleged online that security guards at the event sexually harassed multiple fans during an alleged "underwear search."
Content warning: Sexual harassment
The in-person fansign event featuring the nine-member Japanese boy band took place in Seoul, South Korea, on Saturday (July 8).
"They touched us to check for Apple Watches or electronic devices in case we’d record [the event], but it wasn’t at the level of just skimming; instead, they touched us here and there and poked us, and it was sexual molestation," one fan in attendance alleged, per Soompi.
"They said they’d touch my breasts, and then after touching them, they asked, 'This is a watch, right?' and took me to a small space where they asked me to lift my clothing. They pressed me so aggressively that I had no choice but to lift my clothing, but then someone else opened the door, walked in, and watched my underwear being searched. I felt so ashamed, and it felt like my human rights had hit the floor," another fan recalled.
"They pressed hard on my upper breasts and also pressed hard on my lower breasts, and it was nearly to the point of a sexual caress, so I told them, 'Those are my breasts,'" another fan alleged.
The incident caused the hashtag #underwearsearch to trend online.
Following the backlash, HYBE released a lengthy statement via Weverse about the incident.
"We would like to apologize to the fans who attended &TEAM’s in-person fan signing event on July 8 regarding the security body check that was carried out by female security guards," the label said.
They continued, "Fan signing events are a place where artists and fans talk one-on-one, and if recordings are leaked to the public, it might not be good for the fan and the artist. So to prevent such a situation from arising, we have always strictly limited [fans from] bringing in electronic equipment that makes recording possible. Up until now, many fans have actively cooperated with this practice."
They went on to add that the company has apparently experienced "several instances of [fans] hiding electronic equipment on their bodies."
"We apologize to the fans who attended the event with happy hearts for making you uncomfortable. Even if it was a security issue, we are aware that it is not an acceptable excuse for making fans uncomfortable. We sincerely apologize that this kind of incident happened at the event," they said.
They concluded the apology statement by saying they will make efforts to make future events a "comfortable and happy environment."