Is Lesserafim K-pop’s most controversial band? 5 scandals revealed, from Kim Garam’s bullying accusation to Source Music’s alleged lack of support for Gfriend

is lesserafim k-pop’s most controversial band? 5 scandals revealed, from kim garam’s bullying accusation to source music’s alleged lack of support for gfriend

K-pop fans are anticipating many new Korean girl band debuts this year, but Lesserafim continues to steal most of the spotlight. Helmed by South Korean giant Hybe (the agency behind BTS) and its subsidiary Source Music, it’s the agency’s first all-female group, debuting with a sterling six-member line-up that includes Miyawaki Sakura, Kim Chae-won (former members of Iz*One), Huh Yun-jin, Kazuha Nakamura, Kim Garam and Hong Eun-chae.

is lesserafim k-pop’s most controversial band? 5 scandals revealed, from kim garam’s bullying accusation to source music’s alleged lack of support for gfriend

Members of Hybe’s new girl group Lesserafim include Miyawaki Sakura, Kim Chae-won (former members of Iz*One), Huh Yun-jin, Kazuha Nakamura, Kim Garam and Hong Eun-chae. Photo: @le_sserafim/Instagram

The band recently made its debut with its first official music video Fearless (“I’m Fearless” is an anagram of the band’s name). Though it sparked rave reviews, the group has in fact been causing controversy since it first made headlines.

From gossip mongers trying to drag up a member’s bullying past, to the group’s choreography receiving tons of backlash from netizens, Lesserafim continues to be a hot topic on everyone’s lips. Here we take a look at five of the scandals surrounding the highly anticipated girl band.

1. Kim Garam’s bullying past

is lesserafim k-pop’s most controversial band? 5 scandals revealed, from kim garam’s bullying accusation to source music’s alleged lack of support for gfriend

Kim Garam was accused of being a bully in middle school when, in fact, it was revealed that she was the one being bullied. Photo: @kimgaramkr/Instagram

Soon after Source Music unveiled the group’s six members, one of them drew particularly negative attention online: Kim Garam was accused of being a bully at school. Not only that, but as quoted from Meaww, “a photo of Garam standing in front of a chalkboard with pornographic drawings was released”, which spread like wildfire on the internet.

However, Hybe and its subsidiary Source Music quickly squashed the overnight scandal by releasing an official statement.

“Since yesterday, there have been accusations made against her [Kim Garam] on various online communities, and we have conducted our own internal investigation on these claims. The result of our investigation is as follows. The accusations that maliciously slandered Kim Garam were maliciously edited to overemphasise the events that occurred during a time when she was making friends in her early middle school days.”

is lesserafim k-pop’s most controversial band? 5 scandals revealed, from kim garam’s bullying accusation to source music’s alleged lack of support for gfriend

Kim Garam’s team at Source Music backed her up with an official statement defending the rising star. Photo: @kimgaramkr/Instagram

It continued, “Contrary to the claims, it was confirmed through a third-party statement that Kim Garam was actually a victim of school bullying such as cyberbullying and malicious rumours when she entered school.”

The official statement ended with, “We would like to reiterate that we will take legal action without any chance of settlement,” as the allegations contained attempted defamation.

2. “Inappropriate” choreography

is lesserafim k-pop’s most controversial band? 5 scandals revealed, from kim garam’s bullying accusation to source music’s alleged lack of support for gfriend

Fearless by Lesserafim was released on May 2 and has already gained millions of views since the music video came out. Photo: YouTube

Despite the girls’ debut single Fearless doing extraordinarily well with over 53 million views at the time of writing, the happy occasion also drew backlash from netizens – in particular concerning the choreography of the music video.

is lesserafim k-pop’s most controversial band? 5 scandals revealed, from kim garam’s bullying accusation to source music’s alleged lack of support for gfriend

Lesserafim’s first music video Fearless received mixed reviews, some bashing it for its sultry dance moves. Photo: Hybe Labels/YouTube

The music video showed off some cool dance moves and beats, but sparked criticism for some of the more provocative choreography.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Kim Garam (김가람) LE SSERAFIM (@kimgaramkr)

According to KBI Zoom, some netizens thought the choreography was inappropriate because some of the girl group’s members are minors.

3. Plagiarised dance moves?

is lesserafim k-pop’s most controversial band? 5 scandals revealed, from kim garam’s bullying accusation to source music’s alleged lack of support for gfriend

The choreography of Lesserafim’s Fearless has been criticised for being similar to Twice’s choreography for I Can’t stop me. Photo: Hybe Labels, Twice/YouTube

As if that’s not enough backlash, there’s more. When Hybe dropped the group’s teaser music video, netizens alleged that the choreography was plagiarised from another iconic K-pop girl group, Twice. During the teaser video, the girls were seen hugging their own body as part of the choreography, but some netizens pointed out that they have seen the exact same dance moves in Twice’s I Can’t stop me.

Concerned fans made public comments: “I thought Lesserafim was going in the same direction as Blackpink with their girl crush concept, but their choreography is like Twice’s,” per Korean media.

4. What about Gfriend?

is lesserafim k-pop’s most controversial band? 5 scandals revealed, from kim garam’s bullying accusation to source music’s alleged lack of support for gfriend

K-pop girl group Gfriend, under Hybe, disbanded in 2021. Credit: Source Music

While Hybe and Source Music publicly addressed and handled the Kim controversy with dignity, some fans are still frustrated that the Korean music agency didn’t show the same support for the now-disbanded girl group Gfriend.

Source Music formed Gfriend in 2015 and the girl group went on to attain success, winning several rookie awards, and achieving impressive commercial sales and great momentum. However, the girl group disbanded in May 2021 after all of the members left when their contracts finished.

Some fans have been furious and downright confused about why Source Music didn’t show the same protection of Gfriend that they gave to Lesserafim. One Korean report cited an excerpt from a frustrated fan: “The women who built you from the ground up did not get the bare minimum protection from you for six years btw.”

Another fan explained further, “Gfriend was used by both of them, and while Source [Music] was just overworking them [and] not spending their hard-earned money on them … [they] did not even gave one single apology for info leakage at least.”

Even worse, after the fandom blowout, South Korea’s Personal Information Protection Commission (PIPC) had Source Music pay a fine of US$2,300 (3 million won) for leaking customer’s private information, according to KBI Zoom. It refers to a case where Source Music used a Google questionnaire to refund fan club membership fees, but accidentally revealed the personal details of 22 fans in the process.

5. Controversial outfits

is lesserafim k-pop’s most controversial band? 5 scandals revealed, from kim garam’s bullying accusation to source music’s alleged lack of support for gfriend

Lesserafim’s debut visuals were controversial, leaving many fans wondering why they chose the unlikely combination of tennis attire with high heels. Photo: Source Music

Another controversy that the group has faced is its choice of suggestive fashion ensembles – especially considering that member Eunchae is only 15 years old. Fans were baffled at the unlikely combination of wearing tennis outfits with high heels, saying, “no one can play tennis in high heels!”

is lesserafim k-pop’s most controversial band? 5 scandals revealed, from kim garam’s bullying accusation to source music’s alleged lack of support for gfriend

Lesserafim has continued to face backlash since it hit the spotlight. Photo: Source Music

Fans also commented that the nature of the revealing outfits didn’t emphasise sportiness and only made Hybe and Source Music’s dubious motivations more apparent: to supposedly objectify Lesserafim and to create unnecessary exposure for the newbies.

But as they say, any publicity is good publicity … right?

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