PETALING JAYA, Jan 7 — K-pop star Jihyo from Twice has opened up to fans about her mental health struggles in a letter posted to the group’s official forum.
The 22-year-old revealed that she has been fighting depression and anxiety ever since she was falsely tied to the scandal involving South Korean star Jung Joon-young, who is now serving a six-year prison sentence for spreading illicitly filmed sex videos of various women.
After social media users slammed her for being “rude” in a recent livestream, Jihyo apologised and explained that she has been struggling with her mental health ever since rumours circulated that she was one of the women in Jung’s videos.
“After a ridiculous rumor about me started circulating back in March of last year, I think my fear of meeting people began to grow.
“Even when I cried at the airport, it was because of the huge terror I felt towards the people who took photos of me, looked at me, and shouted at me.
“I felt so scared about how these people would think of me and what kind of mindset they had while looking at me,” she said, based on translations by K-pop news portal Koreaboo.
Twice’s label JYP Entertainment wasted no time in taking legal action against malicious commenters but the damage was already done to Jihyo’s mental health.
When news of her romantic relationship with singer Kang Daniel was revealed, she became the target of even more hate comments which only placed a heavier burden on her psychological state.
“Groundless rumors began to circulate and all the negative feelings like anxiety, depression, and fear grew immensely.
“It became difficult for me to stand in front of people, say even a word, or even perform.”
The Feel Special singer began to seek treatment at a hospital but consultations and medication failed to calm her nerves and the stress of performing for the group’s “Twicelights” tour didn’t help either.
Jihyo said this was the cause of her brief absence at the recent 2019 Mnet Asian Music Awards (MAMA), adding that the pressure to put on a happy face was so overwhelming that breathing became difficult for her.
“I cried throughout the three consecutive days of performances from my fear and I just wanted to hide.
“I was worried that I would start crying again at the airport and that I would show everyone that I’m suffering, so I decided to return to Korea at a later time than the rest of the members.”
Jihyo, who is the leader of Twice, added that she was not trying to seek sympathy from fans over her condition but that she merely wanted to be honest about what she was going through and prevent more rumours from spinning out of control.
“I’m sure that since I’m a celebrity and an idol, there will be many issues and rumors to arise for various reasons, but I don’t want us to lose our happiness, our joy, and bright smiles to something else.
“I’m sorry for making you worry, and thank you, ONCE,” she wrote, using the moniker for fans of Twice.