School violence ruined a dream. It is the story of ATBO Yang Dong-hwa, who was selected to join the newly debuting boy group ATBO.
Boy group ATBO of IST Entertainment, to which Apink, Victon, The Boyz and Weeekly belong, unveiled the process of selecting members through “The Origin”, which aired from March to May. 7 people, including Jeong Seung-hwan, Oh Jun-seok, Seok Rak-won, Ryu Jun-min, Bae Hyun-jun, Yang Dong-hwa and Kim Yeon-kyu, were confirmed as debut members. They were scheduled to make their debut in the second half of this year under the group name ATBO.
However, ATBO Yang Dong-hwa‘s school violence before his debut was raised on various online communities and SNS, and the agency showed their rapid coping ability.
On June 13th, IST Entertainment said on their official SNS, “After reading the posts regarding Yang Dong-hwa on social media and online communities, we received the artist’s consent to contact the school officials, alumni and acquaintances to discuss the issue and confirm the facts.”
They announced, “Along with this, we also proceeded with fact-checking procedures. Though some of the assertions turned out to be different from the truth, we found out there were students who were hurt because of Yang Dong-hwa’s immature and inappropriate remarks and actions.”
The agency continued, “We were able to get through to some of the students, and Yang Dong-hwa offered a sincere apology to them in person. Yang Dong-hwa reflects on his past actions that were unbecoming of a student, and he is deeply ashamed of how he offended people around him with his lack of consideration.”
They added, “Apart from the students he had the opportunity to meet with in-person to apologize, he knows there may be more students who went through a hard time because of him, and he has a heavy heart thinking of them. Following the fact-checking process mentioned above and an in-depth discussion with the artist, we have decided that he will no longer be joining ATBO in their debut and promotions.”
Finally, the agency shared, “Although he hasn’t made his debut, Yang Dong-hwa and his parents have expressed their desire to be reprimanded for the mistakes, and will take this time to self-reflect and repent. We know this does not make up for the past, but we hope the artist’s sincerity was delivered to those he has hurt. For the artist himself, we hope this serves as a chance to look back on the past and turn over a new leaf. Yang Dong-hwa will continue to work toward his goal.”
In recent idol groups, after debuting, if a member gets caught up in a school violence controversy, it is common for them to give an explanation, drop out of the team or have time for self-reflection before returning naturally. However, ATBO seems to have canceled Yang Dong-hwa’s debut to prevent such controversy in advance.
In addition, it is interpreted that the issue of school violence is sensitive to the public, as well as considering ATBO’s image in the future. Furthermore, it is believed that the decision was made with the thought that Yang Dong-hwa’s controversy would have a negative impact on IST Entertainment’s artists including Apink, Victon, The Boyz and Weeekly.
For Yang Dong-hwa, who has been running for his dream, this decision will be painful as if everything is over. However, if he thinks about the future in advance, it will be a win-win strategy not only for himself but also for the company.