2019 has been a long year for K-pop fans. After numerous tragedies, scandals and lawsuits, it seems like one thing after another. When news broke in late October of Monsta X‘s Wonho getting swept up in two scandals, it hit fans especially hard. On October 31, he announced his departure from his group and fans reacted. Many want to chalk it up to the typical outcries of the “Oppar Warriors,” fans blindly defending their faves. But this is far more than that.
You see, both scandals are both pre-debut and have weak footing. The first is from Jung Da Eun, the cohost of the variety show, “Ulzzang Shidae“. She claims he never paid back the money she loaned him. By October 30, Starship reported she was lying and planning legal action.
The second is from Jung again, this time claiming Wonho bought marijuana and the two smoked it together in October 2013. The drug dealer in question is supposedly in police custody for numerous drug charges. The statute of limitations for drug use is seven years. So if the rumors are true, Wonho will have to pay the consequences. However, the accusations seem fishy. Jung appears pretty friendly with That Woman, who is already linked to at least two other drug scandals. Yes, it’s the one you’re thinking of. I just refuse to use her name because she’s the worst.
Regardless, the fans, Monbebes, sprung into action. A petition for his return quickly went online, and fans stood outside Starship Entertainment, Monsta X’s company, leaving messages of their support. They also held a silent protest there at Starship’s HQ and internationally. Within three days, Chinese Monbebes bought and put up street post banners all along Starship’s street. Fans have even rented a digital billboard in Times Square.
The online efforts have been incredibly organized, even from my limited perspective. Fans use a new hashtag on Twitter every 36 hours to stay trending. They ask questions and play games to help keep both morale and numbers up. I wake up every morning to see massive support from fans internationally. If anyone stumbles across false claims or defamation, they’re urged not to interact with it. Only to screencap it and send it directly to Starship’s email to add to any possible cases. This is no longer a simple fan campaign. It’s a rescue mission.
While I know the chances of Wonho’s return are slight, I can’t help but keep hope. For instance, fans believe he’s still logged into their fancafe, a fansite where idols and fans can interact. On the forum, fans have asked Wonho to delete a message if he was indeed still there. So far, about 4 messages have been deleted. Granted, I’m not on the fancafe, so that’s speculative at best.
What we do know, however, is that until November 13, Wonho’s picture and profile were still on Starship’s site. Additionally, at a recent Monsta X fan-meeting, Starship used a banner with all seven members. His contract was terminated on November 1 and the continued use of his image without his permission is illegal. Why would they risk another public scandal? Why would his profile still be there unless there’s something happening behind the scenes? Starship’s staff has also provided stationery for fans to leave words of support.
All of the members have been quiet during this whole thing, due to contracts and legality. But I.M. recently left the fans a simple message: a song title. The song, Maurice Moore’s “The Loudest Silence,” is about asking for another chance and the scariness of love. It also contains two sampled monologues from the show “How I Met Your Mother.” While beautiful on its own, in light of everything, it’s heartbreaking.
This has gone beyond an idol’s departure. This is about standing up for what’s right. Standing up against Korea’s toxic cancel culture, against netizens who post harmful comments and against bullies. Monbebes have decided enough is enough, and I have never been prouder to be K-pop fan.
It’s impossible to fully know what’s going on behind the scenes, but I, like many other fans, refuse to give up hope. Yes, there’s a great chance that the billboard, banners, and signs will amount to nothing. But I don’t want to live in a world where we give up because we might lose. A world where people didn’t at least try.
Stay strong, Monsta X. Stay Strong, Monbebes.