The bullying scandal that happened with this 1st gen group was full of drama.
One of the most controversial idol groups of the early 2000s is without doubt S#ARP. Debuting in 1998, S#ARP had an unconventional lineup as it included both male and female members. The group was active for 4 years before disbanding due to various controversies over inner conflict. Given all the details, S#ARP’s scandal could have been turned into a K-drama script.
According to many sources, S#ARP was launched thanks to the sponsorship from the rich family of member Seo Ji Young. She is the daughter of the 19th president of Yonsei University and a high-ranking official in Korea. To encourage their daughter to pursue her dream, the family established an entertainment company and debuted S#ARP with 4 members, Seo Jiyoung, Lee Jihye, Chris and Jang Seok Hyun.
During their promotions, despite being supported by her wealthy background, Seo Jiyoung was often overshadowed by groupmate Lee Jihye. Lee Jihye took on the main vocal role, so she had many lines in the group’s songs. This sparked conflicts between the two.
On October 8, 2002, during a schedule at KBS, when the group was in the elevator, Seo Jiyoung turned to Lee Jihye and hummed “Useless Lee Jihye” to the tune of a song. Feeling disrespected, Lee Jihye got into a fight with Seo Jiyoung. The fight that took place at the public TV station attracted great attention.
The conflict between two female members of S#ARP became even more tense with the involvement of actor Ryu Siwon. As Seo Jiyoung’s boyfriend, Ryu Siwon threatened Lee Jihye to take responsibility for everything, forcing her to publicly apologize. Facing pressure from Seo Jiyoung’s family and her boyfriend, Lee Jihye is said to have apologized to Seo Jiyoung and received the forgiveness of Seo Jiyoung’s father.
However, things did not end there as Seo Jiyoung was determined not to forgive Lee Jihye. She arbitrarily sat out of S#ARP’s performance. Seo Jiyoung’s mother even went to KBS and hit Lee Jihye on the head. Seo Jiyoung then went on to push things to the climax by holding a press conference with the participation of Chris, a male member of the group and manager Koo Kwang Tae, to expose the truth about what happened inside S#ARP.
However, the press conference did not go according to Seo Jiyoung’s wishes when the manager turned his back on her at the last minute. He suddenly refuted Seo Jiyoung’s accusations against Lee Jihye. Having her lies exposed by the manager, Seo Jiyoung angrily left the press conference. Afterwards, there were constant reports of Seo Jiyoung bullying Lee Jihye.
In another press conference attended by two members Lee Jihye and Jang Seok Hyun, Lee Jihye shared, “I always wanted to do good things for S#ARP, but things turned out like this… I still want to be a member of S#ARP…” Lee Jihye’s side asserted that Seo Jiyoung’s side made unreasonable demands to the management company, so in the end, the company decided to disband S#ARP and went bankrupt shortly after.
6 years after the scandal that shook Korea’s entertainment industry, Lee Jihye and Seo Jiyoung reunited in a reality show broadcast in 2008. Lee Jihye surprised and drew admiration from viewers for how forgiving she was despite what she had gone through with Seo Jiyoung.