Controversy has arisen when it was discovered that bodyguards assaulted some female fans during boy group ENHYPEN’s entry process.
The incident took place at Incheon International Airport on May 16th. When ENHYPEN arrived at the terminal after finishing their overseas schedule, fans began to gather to take pictures of them.
According to the video, in the process of preventing this, bodyguards were captured on scene cameras as they excessively pushed several women away. They applied physical force to several women who had been following after ENHYPEN, creating a violent situation. The safety status of those who were pushed out of the screen was not confirmed.
When the video was released, public opinion criticizing ENHYPEN’s bodyguards was formed. Fans from other countries, mainly on Twitter, pointed out their excessive security. One netizen shared their opinion, “It’s not the first time I’ve seen Korean idols’ bodyguards push people away for invading idols’ space. Please don’t defend them. They shouldn’t riot like this.”
In this regard, an airport official said, “Bodyguards did their job to secure the flow of movement, but such a situation is often seen at airports.” The violent overreaction of some bodyguards has been steadily discussed among fans, but it became a full-fledged public debate in May 2018 when NCT 127’s bodyguard attacked a photojournalist.
When the Korea Press Photographer’s Association issued a statement and criticized it, SM Entertainment and the security company apologized. An entertainment industry official pointed out, “Reporters can protest (against bodyguards), but it’s common for security company employees or managers to assault a crowd of fans.”
The problem is that there is no way to distinguish between ordinary citizens and fans at the airport. Securing the safety of idols is important, but it seems that even the minimum safety is not guaranteed for those in the flow of movement.
An official from Incheon International Airport Corporation said, “We are aware that there have been several assault cases between celebrity bodyguards and fans, but there is no room for legal intervention from the standpoint of the corporation.”
Lawyer Jang Hyuk-soon said, “Even bodyguards are not exempted from assault charges and are subject to punishment at the same level. Bodyguards are martial arts experts and the general public tends to suffer more damage when assaulted, so bodyguards can be punished more seriously.”