Kim Seon-ho (Photo: Netflix)

On Sunday (Oct 17) night when K-drama Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha screened its last episode, fans were heartbroken — not just because the saccharine-sweet romance series had ended.

Earlier that evening, an anonymous Korean netizen wrote on the online community website Nate Pann claiming her ex-boyfriend — actor K who recently rose to fame — manipulated and mentally abused her, including forcing her to have an abortion.

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While the netizen didn’t name the actor and there isnt any proof as yet, her claims suggest that it is Kim Seon-ho, the much beloved lead actor in Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha. Korean media singled him out and reporter-YouTuber Lee Jin-ho also released a video declaring the 35-year-old star as actor K.

Widespread repercussions are being felt in the showbiz eco-system. Here’s what happened.

The accusations against actor K

The netizen claimed she and actor K began dating in early 2020 and they broke up four months ago after he became famous and changed drastically.

When she became pregnant, he allegedly told her to get an abortion as having a child would affect his career and his ability to support his parents. He also allegedly told her that he would have to pay 900 million won (S$1.02 million) in penalties if he had a child. According to the woman, actor K said even though they would lose the baby, he would marry her two years later.

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This is despite the doctor telling her that she might have difficulties conceiving in the future if she had an abortion. She proceeded with it nevertheless as she believed his promise.

Afterwards, she claimed he was irritable towards her, picked fights with her if she responded in a way that he didn’t like, and criticised her over small matters like how she texted her messages. He also allegedly blamed her when a Korean media outlet found out about their romance.

She said actor K is two-faced, pretending to be a nice guy on TV while cussing often in front of her. He also allegedly badmouthed his co-workers, including directors and co-stars, and didn’t appreciate gifts and letters from his fans.

He gradually deleted photos of her in his phone, and demanded she do the same, including deleting her phone messaging app to prevent reporters from getting access to their messages.

The woman claimed she’s in a state of severe psychological and physical trauma because of actor K.

Is Kim Seon-ho actor K?

If the netizen’s claims are true, there are several reasons why people might think actor K is Seon-ho.

For one, the woman said actor K was a theatre actor before turning to TV and recently became very famous after starring in two TV dramas, which fit Seon-ho’s bill.

She added that actor K made the news recently when he yelled at someone during a programme. In March this year, Seon-ho shouted at the producing director of the variety show 2 Days & 1 Night — some say in jest — and some viewers criticised him for being rude.

Companies remove Seon-ho

Kim Seon-ho scandal
Kim Seon-ho (Photo: Netflix)

Within two days of the allegations, three brands in South Korea pre-emptively removed all images and publicity collateral that featured Seon-ho.

Domino’s Pizza Korea, Canon Korea and Food Bucket reportedly hid advertisements and posts that featured Seon-ho from their social media accounts. A Domino’s Pizza commercial that featured him was also set to private on the brand’s official YouTube channel.

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Fans defend Seon-ho, announce legal action

Seon-ho’s supporters also rallied together to issue a statement, stressing they would not tolerate groundless acts that cause pain to him.

“The fans of Kim Seon-ho announce that they will take all possible legal measures, including criminal charges and civil damages, without any leniency or tolerance, against those spreading false facts to the end and are continuously monitoring those who demean his personality with serious swear words and insulting remarks,” they said.

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Seon-ho’s agency responded to the allegations

Before Seon-ho responded to the allegations, his agency issued a statement on Oct 19, apologising for the “startling news”.

It said: “First of all, we apologise for the delay in releasing this official statement about the speculations around him. We are currently looking into the online post and verifying the story with Kim Seon-ho himself. Please note that nothing has been confirmed yet and we ask that you give us more time to fact check.”

Co-stars of Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha affected

Sparks fly between Shin (left) and Kim in ‘Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha’. (Photo: Netflix)

The three main leads of Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha were scheduled to hold wrap-up interviews with the Korean press after the finale of the drama series was aired.

However, lead actress Shin Min-ah cancelled her interview — originally scheduled for Oct 18. Her agency said it was postponed due to “internal circumstances”.

The agencies representing Seon-ho and actor Lee Sang-yi today cancelled their interviews, which were scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday respectively, citing the same reason as Min-ah.

Seon-ho to drop out of hosting show

Korean media also reported that Seon-ho will drop out of hosting the popular variety show 2 Days & 1 Night. The production team reportedly had a meeting this morning to confirm his departure.

In their statement, the team said they would edit out his scenes to the best of their abilities in episodes that were filmed prior to the scandal to “minimise the discomfort inflicted on viewers”.

The other show hosts — Yeon Jung-hoon, Moon Se-yoon, DinDin, Kim Jong-min and Ravi — are reportedly feeling very disappointed with the shocking turn of events.

Other movies he’s due to star in

The fate of three movies that Seon-ho is due to star in are also up in the air. Koreaboo reported that Tristes Tropiques is scheduled to begin production next month, Dog Days in December and 2pm Date in March, but it is uncertain whether the productions will keep Seon-ho in the cast or find a replacement actor.

Now a shocking turn of events

On 26 October 2021, Dispatch revealed information that contradicted what his ex-girlfriend said about him. From Soompi, we consolidated the information to the key points.

For those unfamiliar with Dispatch, they are a widely-known site that exposes idol couples annually, who often back their claims with photo proof and screenshots.

In this way, while his ex-girlfriend (who is revealed by Dispatch to be Choi Young-ah, a weather forecaster turned influencer) brought up that Seon-ho and her only dated in secret, Dispatch alleged that the couple actually went on dates to the zoo and other public places. They even released a photo of Seon-ho and Young-ah at a pet cafe together in October 2020.

Regarding the abortion

According to Dispatch, a friend of Seon-ho’s who they referred to as ‘B’, alleged that Seon-ho’s initial reaction to his ex’s pregnancy was to tell her “it’s a blessing, don’t cry”. He also said that it was a combined decision to get the abortion and that Seon-ho had cooked seaweed soup for Young-ah for two weeks despite not knowing how to cook.

Young-ah’s friends come forward

However, it apparently wasn’t just Seon-ho’s friends who came to his defence. Young-ah’s friend also allegedly spoke up against her, contradicting her claims about Seon-ho being stingy with his money and that she “distorted” the truth.

In the end, Dispatch wrote that ‘B’ said Seon-ho apologised instead of clearing his name because “he tried to understand” and that “he didn’t want to fight about his private life in front of the whole nation”.

The aftermath

Since Dispatch’s accounts of the scandal went viral, fans have voiced their support for Seon-ho. They’ve called out the K-entertainment’s ‘cancel culture’, and have started petitions to let Seon-ho remain on 2 Days 1 Night. They are currently voting for him for ‘Best Asian Artist Award’.

Certain brands such as Miima also have Kim Seon-ho’s back on their website and have unarchived all videos and posts with him.

While nothing is confirmed and with Seon-ho and his company making no further statements, fans seem relieved and in high spirits once more.

This article was first published in AsiaOne, and subsequently updated.