During their recent performance at an all-boys school, K-pop girl group Aespa was caught off guard when students rushed the stage and took photos with them, some of which were later posted online with sexual comments.
Coming off the heels of a historic performance on Coachella’s main stage, Aespa was invited to perform Monday at Kyungbock High School in Seoul during a school festival. The high school is the alma mater of Lee Soo-man, head of Aespa’s label SM Entertainment. Per tradition, many new SM groups have performed at the school.
During their performance, four boys took to the stage uninvited and asked the group for selfies, with which the group complied.
Some netizens claimed Aespa member Ningning tried to block some of the students from taking the selfies.
Some students also reportedly tried to reach out and touch the members, prompting a teacher to warn, “You will be reported for sexual harassment if you touch them.” Other netizens claimed several students tried to hold group members’ hands to initiate skinship while taking the selfies.
One of the four boys that jumped the stage later reportedly posted the group photo to his socials, writing, “I did everything but touch them.” Other captions of photos taken from the school event included “My girlfriends are here lol their body is f*cking banging” and “sex.”
The hashtag “Secure the safety of Aespa” has been trending on social media, with many netizens outraged at the incident and criticizing SM for not providing adequate security after the artists were further harassed and touched as they were leaving. Many netizens pointed out the lone woman staff member trying to protect the members.
One video of many of the students rushing after Aespa has garnered over 200k views.
The school administration issued an apology letter that has since been taken down after criticism. It read:
“Today, the 101st anniversary ceremony, hosted by the Kyungbock High School alumni association, was held in the main school auditorium. Idol group aespa was invited to the ceremony to perform. However, after the event, there were media reports that inadvertently damage the reputation of SM Entertainment and aespa, and we offer our deep apologies.
However, as a result of conducting an on-campus investigation of students after the media reports, it was found that several outsiders who were not Kyungbock students visited the event, but were not permitted to enter for safety reasons. It can be inferred that, due to that incident, malicious articles that were never true were posted on some social media.
Nonetheless, as a result, we apologize again for harming the reputation of SM Entertainment and aespa with today’s event.”
Some fans online responded with, “Gyeongbo High School doesn’t intend to take disciplinary action by catching the male students who have damaged the school’s honor, they are trying to pass it on to an outsider!” and “Garbage.”