HYBE has issued a formal apology following allegations of sexual harassment against their security staff during a recent fan signing event of group &TEAM. 

On Saturday, July 8, &TEAM, a boy group under HYBE LABELS JAPAN, held an in-person fan signing event in Seoul. 

However, several fans took to social media to complain about their alleged invasive encounter with the event’s security staff, with the hashtag “underwear search” quickly trending in South Korea. 

According to the attendees, instead of using a metal detector to search for electronic devices, the security staff allegedly ushered them to a small area instead and told them to lift their shirts so they could touch the fan’s breasts. 

Some attendees also noted that when they were being searched, other staff also entered the room and observed the process. Others also wrote that the staff members didn’t even apologize to them even when they found nothing incriminating on the fans. 

Following the online backlash, HYBE Labels issued a statement on late Sunday, July 9, via WeVerse shop. 

The agency started by explaining that in events such as fan signing, it’s important to prevent any unauthorized recordings from being leaked, as this could have negative consequences for both the fans and the artists. That’s why they’ve set-up strict regulations regarding the prohibition of electronic devices capable of recording. 

However, they’ve encountered several fans who don’t adhere to these rules by hiding electronic equipment on their bodies. HYBE explained that this is why several female security guards carried body checks to the fans who attended the July 8 event. 

“We apologize to the fans who attended the event with happy hearts for making you uncomfortable,” the agency said, according to a translation by Soompi. 

“Even if it was a security issue, we are aware that it is not an acceptable excuse for making fans uncomfortable. We sincerely apologize that this kind of incident happened at the event.”

HYBE then promised that they will develop plans for improvements, including the implementation of contact-free methods for security checks. 

Composed of EJ, Nicholas, K, Fuma, Yuma, Jo, Harua, Taki and Maki, &TEAM is HYBE’s first Japanese boy band. They debuted in September 2022, and released their second EP First Howling: WE in June. 

Members EJ, Nicholas, K, and Taki previously participated in the survival series I-LAND, which formed the group ENHYPEN.

Featured image: &TEAM’s Twitter