Former T-ARA member Areum competed on the survival reality show Idol Rebooting Project: The Unit, where she cleared up a few misconceptions from last year’s bullying scandal. When the program ended earlier this month, Areum participated in an interview and spoke up about the rumors that T-ARA’s members had bullied a single member, as well as the ones about her being spiritually possessed.
During the interview, Areum said, “I don’t think T-ARA members are at fault. All groups face conflict. It’s normal, but the world targeted us and called us out as bullies.” She continued, “The members should have communicated more, but we didn’t do that. We were too careful. I do not agree that any member bullied another or was bullied by another.”
She mentioned this on The Unit as well. She said the members were all very close and got along well. So, when the members did argue, it was not any more serious than when family members bicker. She added that, at the time of the scandal, the members were all too young to know how to react any better.
Areum went on to share what really happened with the Ryu Hyoyoung and Hwayoung sisters. Regarding the threatening texts she received from Hyoyoung, Areum said, “Hwayoung is a truly carefree kind of person. She was really nice to me when I joined the group. When she found out that her sister, Hyoyoung, texted me these threats, I know that she got very upset with Hyoyoung.”
I don’t blame the members or think they screwed me over. It’s actually the staff and associates that broke my heart and hurt my feelings. It’s not that they harmed me directly, but it was definitely difficult to approach them.
We were all very, very young. And we were all so sensitive. I think my short time as a T-ARA member taught me a lot of things, but of course sometimes I think that if I hadn’t joined the team, I wouldn’t have gotten so hurt.
When Areum left T-ARA, another round of rumors was spread that said she had been “possessed by spirits” or “chosen to become a shaman” and had to quit the group.
In both her interview and on the show, Areum outright denied those claims and cleared her name.
She explained, “I painted my face for Halloween and posted that on my Instagram. I just wrote whatever I wanted to write. When people couldn’t understand what I meant, they started saying I was crazy and possessed.”
It was ridiculous. All these articles calling me mentally unstable came pouring out. My friends called me, asking if I was okay. When they told me about what people were saying, I cracked up. I promised myself that I’d remember that moment as a turning point in my life. When the press got in touch with me, I told them I’m not crazy or sick. Instead, I told them I’m crazy for the stage.
Until she could finally laugh and talk about what happened, Areum mentioned that she did suffer quite a bit.
“After leaving T-ARA, I couldn’t get myself to eat so I lost so much weight. I was 88 pounds. I locked myself in my room and listened to music all day. I would stay in the bathroom in my room and that would calm me down a bit. To this day, I find comfort by looking at myself in the bathroom.”
She ended up being hospitalized for about a month and nearly doubled her weight, ending up at 161 pounds.
During The Unit shoot, she promised to slim down for the competitions and subsequently wowed viewers with her speedy weight loss throughout the show.
Areum explained, “I went on The Unit to show everyone that I’m okay now.” But she added it wasn’t easy competing to become an idol again.
The fierceness of it all really took a toll on me. It was hard. It sent me back to the bathroom. I realized being in a group is not my thing.
I think it was a good thing I didn’t make it to the next round on the show.
Appearing on the show brought up so many things yet again, but I have no regrets.
It means so much to me to be back out in the world.
At the end of the interview, when asked about her future plans, Areum said, “I’m publishing a photography book. All this time I wanted to be consoled. But I realized when I bring comfort to someone else and get thanked for it, it heals me as well. So, I’ve put together a book of my pictures and writing. It’s just pictures of nature, or people’s smiles. I plan on donating the profits to an orphanage.”
It’s been a long, rough ride for Areum. But it’s good to see her back on track and living the most out of her life.