Jung Yonghwa – Sacrificial Lamb of the Media and KHU scapegoat, netizens say and demand truth for weeks
CNBLUE fans have been working hard to clear Yonghwa’s name of any suspicions of wrongdoing in the recent controversy over his 2016 admission to Kyunghee University (KHU) for a Phd program in applied music. Despite achieving nearly perfect scores in his practical musical exams (98 out of 100) and attending an interview at Yonghwa’s agency arranged on the authority of a Kyunghee university professor and by the University itself, Yonghwa has received harsh criticism for supposedly not following the rules of admission due to a misleading and unsupported article published on Jan. 17 that claimed he had received preferential admissions treatment.
KHU itself has stated that there are no hard and fast rules for graduate student admissions and that those rules are up to the discretion of each department, so neither Yonghwa nor his agency, that was in charge of arranging the interviews, realized that they might be at fault. But before these facts came to light several South Korean media agencies, notably SBS, ran with the story and placed most of the initial blame on Yonghwa, suggesting that he was demanding “special privileges” for admission into KHU’s Phd program. Later facts revealed that the opposite was the case and that the infraction, if any, was a minor one of conducting an admissions interview off campus. Yonghwa’s agency since released a statement clarifying the sequence of events leading up to the accusations that puts most of the responsibility for the confusion on KHU and other observers have also noted the ambiguous and changing requirements for KHU’s admissions.
KHU itself has changed its statement more than once, adding to the confusion and suggesting that the regulations were not as strict as the media may have believed.
In the meantime Yonghwa has been slandered by press and commentators alike, and he has suffered professionally and personally from the false accusations. Because of this CNBLUE fans around the world have been trending a new hashtag every day since January 24 demanding clarifications from KHU. The first hashtag, translated as “Kyung Hee University do not hide behind Jong Yonghwa” trended for nearly ten hours in South Korea with a total of at least 217k tweets. The second, “Kyung Hee University, tell me straight,” launched a few hours later and trended immediately with 32k tweets in just three hours and with more than 100k tweets total. By Jan. 25 not only hashtags but articles critical of KHU were trending on news portals in South Korea.
As recently as Jan 30 hashtags were trending at no. 1 and no. 2 that read “Jung YongHwa is a sacrificial lamb” and “Trashy reporters, stop the witch hunt.” Due to the relentless pressure by fans in keeping this issue in the public eye, many more sympathetic articles have appeared in the South Korean press. On Feb. 1 the organization CCDM (Citizens’ Coalition for Democratic Media) posted an extensive article criticizing South Korean media’s handling of Yonghwa’s case that states, “Universities are offering admission to entertainers for publicity, or that graduate schools are indiscriminately attracting students without verifying their eligibility. This is a major social issue that the media should pay attention to. The problem is that this SBS coverage focuses too much on the ‘idol’.
The article continues, “This repeats every time an issue related to an entertainer comes out. So many media companies are engaged in ‘clickbait activities” to raise the number of views and to generate revenue rather than providing correct journalistic information. In this process, the entertainer’s human rights are not protected. It’s a vicious cycle. The media is breaking down boundaries between journalism and tabloid information.”
Other Kpop fandoms have also joined in to help with the effort. As one person tweeted, “THIS EXOL supports CNB Yonghwa for having the guts to apologize for something he wasn’t wrong about. Only true gentleman knows that saying sorry doesn’t mean you’re wrong”.
Ignore it. THIS EXOL supports CNB Yonghwa for having the guts to apologise for something he wasnt wrong about. Only true gentleman knows that saying sorry doesnt mean youre wrong#TeamEXO #TwitterBestFandom
#EXOL #BestFanArmy #iHeartAwards @weareoneEXO
— Shireen deen (@deenshireen) January 27, 2018
Another person posted, “It’s time for all kpop fans to unite. This time, the tragedy happen to Jung Yong Hwa. Next time, it may happen to your idol. We should oppose the Korean government to use our precious idol to become the scapegoat covering the bad things they do.”
It's time for all kpop fans to unite. This time, the tragedy happen to Jung Yong Hwa. Next time, it may happen to your idol. We should oppose the Korean government to use our precious idol to become the scapegoat covering the bad things they do.
— AngelTT (@AngelTT2) January 30, 2018
We hope that CNBLUE fans are successful in clearing Yonghwa’s name before he enlists in the military on March 5. The fault lies not with Yonghwa but with the South Korean media using him for attention and reports about KHU’s unclear and constantly changing application requirements as well as with the international Kpop community’s eagerness to condemn an innocent person without first finding out the facts and complexities of the situation.