The Rise And Fall Of K-Pop’s Most Controversial Ex-Trainee

How Han Seo Hee became synonymous with scandal.

Content Warning

This article includes descriptions of graphic content, sexual assault, suicide or self harm, and violence that may disturb some readers.

During her early trainee days, Han Seo Hee seemed to have a promising future. She had been accepted by multiple entertainment companies as a trainee and was slated for her debut. Before that could happen, her reputation quickly spiraled and her name became one that was highly avoided in the Korean entertainment industry.

Han Seo Hee | @hxxsxxhee/Instagram

Han Seo Hee’s journey to debut began in 2011 when she auditioned for JYP Entertainment and ended up in first place. Although she never publicly signed with JYP Entertainment, she continued her aspirations to be a K-Pop idol by appearing on the audition program MBC‘s Birth of a Great Star 3 in 2012gaining further attention from entertainment companies.

Han Seo Hee on “Birth of a Great Star 3”

While she failed to make it to the show’s final round, she joined Pledis Entertainment as a trainee in 2013 but left the company shortly after. During a Q & A on Instagram in 2019, Han Seo Hee revealed the harsh reality of her life as a trainee with Pledis Entertainment.

If we were seen falling asleep or using our phones, the manager would see us through the CCTV and come into the room. We had to have great skills to sleep without getting caught. After practice, we had to take a picture of the time and send a picture to the group chat. The end.

— Han Seo Hee

Han Seo Hee was allegedly signed with Source Music around that timeframe, where it was reported she was training to debut with GFRIEND. Before she could join the lineup, Han Seo Hee and Source Music parted ways for an undisclosed reason.

After leaving Source Music, she joined Jellyfish Entertainment, and it was reported that she was training to debut as a member of gugudan. Before the group debuted in 2016, Han Seo Hee again parted ways with her company.

| @hxxsxxhee/Instagram

After a confusing series of exits, an anonymous employee from one of the undisclosed management companies that Han Seo Hee trained with exposed that the company cast her in June 2015, but that she was let go after a month due to “personal problems.”

Having been on a six year journey to debut, Han Seo Hee was feeling the frustration many trainees encounter when their dreams are so close, but there is no finish line in sight. Where other trainees have used that as fuel to work harder towards their goals, Han Seo Hee instead shared in a YouTube video last year that she felt lost with no life direction.

I don’t have any dreams. That’s one of my current life struggles. Not just now, but I’ve never had any dreams. I need to have some type of interest if I want to start something or so that I can study for it or practice it, but I don’t have any desires at all.

— Han Seo Hee

In March of 2016, 2NE1‘s former stylist, Yang Seung Ho (also known as XIN), was arrested in Tokyo for smoking marijuana. Investigations into this led to the 2017 headlines that would shock fans and cement Han Seo Hee as one of the most controversial ex-trainees of all time.

| @hxxsxxhee/Instagram

Police began investigating BIGBANG‘s T.O.P in relation to XIN’s arrest after it was suspected the stylist’s drug scandal could also involve K-Pop idols. The police found no substantial evidence at the time, so the investigation was not continued.

It was when investigations surrounding Han Seo Hee began that she confessed she and T.O.P had smoked marijuana together at T.O.P’s home on more than one occasion.

BIGBANG’s T.O.P

T.O.P initially denied the accusations, but later confessed.

During the incident, T.O.P was under mental distress and psychologically stressed out. He met with Han Seo Hee when he was drunk and spontaneously decided to smoke with her.

T.O.P is deeply sorry for what he did and regrets it a lot. He did drink heavily and took Han Seo Hee up on her suggestion [to smoke] but he ended his relationship with Han Seo Hee and stopped smoking marijuana.

— Statement from T.O.P’s lawyer

As a result, T.O.P was sentenced to two years of probation and would have to spend 10 months in jail if he were to violate his probation.

Han Seo Hee was sentenced to four years of probation and 120 hours of drug treatment sessions for smuggling and buying cannabis and LSD.

Han Seo Hee being escorted by police after her arrest

A short time after her sentencing, Han Seo Hee shocked netizens when she announced she would be debuting in a four member K-Pop group in January of 2018. During the announcement made on a live broadcast, she shared she was the oldest of the four members so she was going to be the leader of the group.

Han Seo Hee’s broadcast in 2017 where she announced she would be debuting | @hxxsxxhee/Instagram

In the same live, she confessed she enjoyed the attention she was receiving, despite it not being positive.

I’m starting to see myself as a hot shot celebrity these days. When I’m going to the convenience store in front of my house, I wear a mask in case anyone recognizes me. I’m an attention wh*re. The more attention I get, the happier I am.

— Han Seo Hee

| @hxxsxxhee/Instagram

In a live stream a month after admitting she sought attention from others, Han Seo Hee proclaimed she was a feminist and said she made controversial statements because she wanted to spread awareness about feminism in Korea.

I have to say controversial things so that I get articles written about me. If I just continued to be polite and say nice things, the reporters won’t mention anything about me being a ‘feminist.’ I say controversial things for a reason.

—  Han Seo Hee

Despite claims she was a feminist, she received backlash when she made statements refusing to recognize transgender women as females. 

Han Seo Hee in a $53 USD “Feminist” sweater that she designed and sold in an online shopping mall | @hxxsxxhee/Instagram

In November of 2017, Han Seo Hee got in a heated online exchange debating feminism with Yoo Ah In after the actor made a comment to a fan that netizens viewed as violent and misogynistic. This led ulzzang Kang Hyuk Min to comment on his Instagram that Han Seo Hee was “someone with pain in their heart.” Upon seeing this, Han Seo Hee posted about Kang Hyuk Min on her Instagram, claiming he was a “potential rapist.

In response, over 10,000 netizens attacked Kang Hyuk Min over the false claims, which were formally debunked by police. 

In January of 2018, Kang Hyuk Min sued Han Seo Hee over the attack on his character.

I’m not suing them because they are women. I’m suing them in order to separate them from regular society, isolating those who do not understand that their humiliating of others online has consequences.

—  Kang Hyuk Min

| @hxxsxxhee/Instagram

Shortly after Kang Hyuk Min filed his lawsuit, Han Seo Hee disclosed she had gone to the hospital and was diagnosed with a panic disorder and depression. Netizens questioned the timing of her announcement with the news of her pending lawsuit.

Han Seo Hee posted a full statement on her Instagram, detailing her struggles with her mental health and asking for understanding from the public.

Since last year, I have been receiving treatments from a psychiatrist. At times, I thought I was better, so I stopped the treatments abruptly for few months, thinking I was okay. I tend to always seek attention and approval from others, thus I feel like I have not been able to take care of myself in the midst of all the controversy surrounding me. Also, I went to the hospital yesterday because it was too hard for me to do this, and the doctor diagnosed me with panic disorder and depression. I am very embarrassed, but there are some things I would like to ask you. Please do not just look at me as a character, but just look at me as a person. I’m sincerely sorry.

—  Han Seo Hee

Han Seo Hee’s alleged planned debut never happened.

| @extremedivas/Tumblr

In 2019, Han Seo Hee would be at the center of further scandal as previously undisclosed confessions from her 2016 arrest came to light. Dispatch released an exclusive report revealing that former iKON member B.I was suspected of drug crimes.

As evidence, they released screenshots of KakaoTalk messages between B.I and Han Seo Hee, who was referred to as “Person A.” In the conversation, B.I discussed plans to buy LSD from Han Seo Hee in length.

Media widely reported that “Person A” (Han Seo Hee) was a YG Entertainment trainee, but the company has refuted the claims,

Hello, this is YG Entertainment. Person A, currently known as the informant, is not a YG trainee. We have requested corrections from several media outlets, but the reports are continuing to release incorrect information. We are once again revealing the exact facts through this press release. 

— YG Entertainment

KBS then released a report suspecting Yang Hyun Suk, YG Entertainment’s founder and former CEO, of forcing Han Seo Hee to retract her admission in 2016 of selling the drugs to B.I.

In response to the reports, B.I apologized for his wrong actions and withdrew from iKON.

This is Kim Hanbin.
First of all, I sincerely apologize for causing trouble with my inappropriate behavior.

It is true that I had previously wanted to rely on things that I should not have even had interest in because I was having such a difficult and rough time. But I was not even able to do it because I was afraid.

Nevertheless, I am extremely embarrassed and sorry towards all of our fans and our members, who are deeply disappointed and hurt by my wrong words and actions.

I will humbly reflect upon my wrongdoings and withdraw from the team. I sincerely bow my head in apology once again to our fans and our members. I’m sorry.

 B.I

Han Seo Hee took an interview with MBC’s Newsdesk where she seemed to confirm her identity as Person A, and that she was forced to change her original statement about B.I in 2016 by Yang Hyun Suk.

Transcript of Han Seo Hee’s call with MBC’s Newsdesk | MBC

Reporter: Did YG Entertainment hire a lawyer for you and did Yang Hyun Suk ask you to make changes to your statement?

Han Seo Hee: I’ll talk about it later. But it’s exactly what you’re thinking. What is there left for me to talk about? You know what’s going on.

Dispatch released further details surrounding the allegations that Yang Hyun Suk forced Han Seo Hee to conceal the truth by providing a detailed breakdown of Han Seo Hee’s meeting with the former CEO after her arrest in 2016.

Former YG Entertainment CEO, Yang Hyun Suk

In Dispatch’s report, they revealed that Yang Hyun Suk met with Han Seo Hee the day after her arrest. During the meeting, the former CEO confiscated her cell phone and urged her to change her statement regarding B.I, going as far as to provide her with a lawyer.

As a result, Han Seo Hee went back to the police a week later and changed her statement. One of the investigating officers recalled that Han Seo Hee and her lawyer were exhibiting strange behavior.

Following accusations against Yang Hyun Suk, he made a clarifying statement, confirming he took Han Seo Hee’s cell phone and reminded her of the severity of her claims against B.I., threatening to sue her if she made false claims against the idol.

It’s true that I took her cell phone. I didn’t want her to record it. But I was careful with my words. I told her that we test our artists for drugs twice a month and that B.I has never tested positive even once. I told her that if B.I would go in (to the police) and doesn’t test positive, she could be punished for libel. That’s why she got scared and chose to change her statements herself. If B.I went to the police, he would have 100% tested negative for drugs. No drugs would come out.

— Yang Hyun Suk

As a result of the scandal, Yang Hyun Suk resigned from his position as CEO of YG Entertainment on June 14, 2019.

Following the scandal, Han Seo Hee made headlines once again on October 5, 2019, but for a different reason. The former trainee was now caught up in dating rumors with former TV personality, Jung Da Eun. The two were spotted on vacation together, leading to reports they could be dating.

Jung Da Eun in Han Seo Hee post from their vacation in a now-deleted Instagram post | @hxxsxxhee/Instagram

Han Seo Hee denied the rumors the next day and stated she had a boyfriend.

I am friends with Jung Da Eun but we are not in a relationship. She was an unni that I knew in my twenties. I am currently in a relationship with my boyfriend of 5 months.

— Han Seo Hee

In a confusing live broadcast on October 7, Han Seo Hee walked back on her previous statement and confirmed she was dating Jung Da Eun. The two then hosted a live broadcast together where they left mixed messages about their relationship status, seeming to be enjoying their time together as they explored what they meant to each other.

Jung Da Eun (left) and Han Seo Hee (right) | @hxxsxxhee/Instagram

Later in October, Jung Da Eun and Han Seo Hee both ended up in the middle of another scandal as Jung Da Eun launched multiple allegations against former MONSTA X member, Wonho. Jung Da Eun claimed Wonho had a history of aggravated theft and drug use, and that the idol owed Jung Da Eun money.

As Jung Dae Eun continued to make allegations, Han Seo Hee showed support by saying, “You know they say those in love start to act alike. Welcome to your “no-turning-back” kind of life, Da Eun.

Han Seo Hee’s supportive comment to Jang Da Eun

Wonho shared that he and Jang Da Eun had met as teenagers when they were both fitting models. Wonho was cleared of all drug allegations, but he admitted in an exclusive interview with Dispatch that he had been on probation in the past for issues not related to drugs.

It was my fault, but there were also misunderstandings. Of course, I know I can’t go back in time to fix it. Not everyone who grows up in my situation ends up on the wrong path. I self-reflected a lot while I was on probation.

—Wonho

Around the same time, Han Seo Hee also posted a DM that Jang Da Eun had received, accusing MONSTA X’s Shownu of pursuing a married woman. Starship Entertainment released an official statement clarifying the claims,

Shownu was in contact with the woman in question before she was married, and we have confirmed that Shownu had no idea that she was married, as she got married recently, in August. The woman did not tell Shownu about her marriage.

Shownu did not contact the woman after belatedly finding out she was married. He found out after the husband contacted us and came to visit, and explained the whole story, which is when he found out about her wedding. Shownu said he would not become involved in couple’s relationship, and our legal counsel sent a text message to confirm this position.

No matter what the situation is, we would like to apologize for causing emotional distress to the parties involved, and bringing trouble to the fans. Also, as an agency that has the duty to protect our artists, we would like to ask for your understanding that we may take legal action against people who spread excessive misunderstandings and speculation.

— Starship Entertainment

Following the controversy, Wonho withdrew from MONSTA X to not distract from the accomplishments of the group and his fellow members.

In December 2019, Han Seo Hee published and quickly deleted a post on Instagram which revealed text messages she had sent a friend, claiming that Jung Da Eun had attempted to kill her.

KakaoTalk messages Han Seo Hee sent to a friend | @hxxsxxhee/Instagram

Han Seo Hee: Unnie, Jung Da Eun is trying to kill me.

HSH: What should I do?

HSH: She’s crying now saying she made a mistake.

HSH: I feel like I am slowly but surely losing my mind.

HSH: She choked me and said she’ll kill me with her own two hands

HSH: I had told her that I wanted to die but how could someone do that to someone who wanted to die..?

HSH: I said I wanted to die because I was so tired.

HSH: I meant it as a cry for help.

HSH: But.

HSH: She held me down on the floor and strangled me.

HSH: And said “I’ll kill you, I’ll kill you with my own hands, you f**king b**ch.”

HSH: Can you even imagine trying to understand this..?

Han Seo Hee later released disturbing photos showing injuries to her arm and hand.

Han Seo Hee’s swollen finger | @hxxsxxhee/Instagram

Han Seo Hee’s bruised arm and hand | @hxxsxxhee/Instagram

In July 2020, Han Seo Hee tested positive for drug use in a random urine test. She was still on probation from her previous drug scandal at the time. As a result, investigations were re-opened against her.

| @hxxsxxhee/Instagram

After a tumultuous few years, Han Seo Hee opened a YouTube account in 2021, where she candidly spoke of her tarnished reputation.

She admitted she was currently jobless and had given up any hope of becoming a K-Pop idol.

Singing is something that I have always thought about doing, but I’m too old now and there’s just too many other things. Also, my image has already been crafted by the public. They know me too well so honestly, I think that’s impossible at this point.

— Han Seo Hee

She revealed she had also deleted her Instagram at the advice of her uncle, agreeing that it was not healthy for her to continue to be active on social media.

Still from Han Seo Hee’s YouTube video | Seoheechopath/YouTube

Han Seo Hee has since deleted her YouTube account.

The former trainee went back to trial in November 2021 after her failed drug test. She maintained her innocence, claiming her urine sample was contaminated when she accidentally dropped the sample cup in the toilet.

Ms. Han stated that her paper cup fell in the toilet during her urine test, which was completed at the probation office. However, there was no such evidence that indicated her sample was mixed with content from the toilet, as revealed by the National Forensic Service. We rejected her claim that argued her urine test was mixed with someone else’s samples. There were only two other individuals who were testing at the same time as Ms. Han and they were both men.

— Suwon District Court

The court assessed Han Seo Hee as a flight risk and sentenced her to one year and six months in prison.

As a result of the sentencing, Han Seo Hee was witnessed hurling expletives at the judge, who maintained his composure and suggested she appeal the sentencing if she was unhappy with the decision.

Han Seo Hee at a previous trial

On April 8, 2022, she issued a public apology for her outburst in the courtroom in a statement made through her lawyer.

The defendant is remorseful for her previous behavior and would like to apologize to the court. With this said, the defendant still denies all charges brought onto her by the prosecution.

— Han Seo Hee’s lawyer

On April 29, Han Seo Hee appealed her conviction; the court dismissed the appeal.

Han Seo Hee speaking with reporters at a previous court case

Her most recent controversial headline surrounded shocking reports from May 30, 2022, revealing Han Seo Hee had met Yang Hyun Suk at a high-end brothel over ten times. The reports surfaced after a line of questioning from Yang Hyun Suk’s 5th day of trial regarding allegations of him threatening Han Seo Hee. Yang Hyun Suk’s lawyer stated that Han Seo Hee had previously worked at a high-end brothel, which Han Seo Hee did not deny.

Text messages between Yang Hyun Suk and Han Seo Hee revealed they had a closer relationship than just acquaintances and that he had been directly sending her tickets to YG Entertainment artists’ concerts.

As Han Seo Hee was cross-examined, she had another outburst, claiming Yang Hyun Suk didn’t scare her. The judge reminded Han Seo Hee that behavior like that undermined the integrity of her case.

Why would I be afraid of trash like him? I never felt like I needed to be afraid of him.

—Han Seo Hee

Yang Hyun Suk at a previous court case

Han Seo Hee is currently continuing to serve her prison sentence.

For more controversial K-Pop trainees, check out the article below:

6 Of K-Pop’s Most Controversial Trainees — Where Are They Now?

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