While smoking isn’t a crime, it does sometimes impact idols’ images when fans are shocked to find out they smoke. When the news that the below idols smoked broke out, it led to fan controversy in one way or another.
1. SHINee’s Onew
When this photo of Onew vaping surfaced, an argument ensued between fans who thought it was real and others who called it fake. It was just after dating rumors with After School’s Jungah shocked fans, so many were already worried about Onew’s image. Some netizens commented, “I liked Onew’s innocent and clear image so this is really shocking,” and, “He needs to take care of his image.” SM Entertainment denied the dating rumors but did not address the smoking issue.
2. EXO’s Sehun and Tao (formerly of EXO)
Although many fans believe that all members of EXO smoke, there have only been four members caught with cigarettes. Sehun and Tao were the first caught casually smoking in what looked like a lounge. Netizens hotly debated whether it was true or not, but neither EXO’s agency or the members themselves have openly addressed it.
3. SHINee’s Taemin
Taemin was caught smoking on a balcony in 2014 and the news went viral even though he didn’t try to hide the fact he was a smoker. Many fans expressed their disappointed in him, but the controversy eventually died down and fans seemed to accept his habit.
But in 2017 he was pictured smoking vape cigarettes while hanging out with BTS‘s Jimin and fans became angry at him for risking Jimin’s health.
4. EXO’s Kai
Kai was pictured smoking supposedly between takes of EXO‘s “Call Me Baby” MV in England. It caused a lot of controversy at the time, since it was just after Kai was seen at a hotel with f(x)‘s Krystal, and Sehun and Tao had already been “busted” smoking.
5. EXO’s D.O.
Fans were shocked when they found photos of D.O. carrying a bag with a pack of cigarettes in it in 2017, but it was never discovered whether he bought them for himself or someone else.
No official statements were made by SM Entertainment about any of the boys and their alleged habits.
6. Ryu Hye Young
The popular drama Reply 1988 faced criticism for a smoking scene involving actress Ryu Hye Young, who smoked on screen in such a convincing manner that netizens began to speculate that she really was a smoker. The Korea Communications Committee issued advisories against the scene as one that might encourage young people to try smoking.
7. B.A.P’s Daehyun
The innocent Daehyun uploaded this image to his Instagram without realizing that a box in the top pocket of his shirt with the Parliament cigarette brand on it could be seen. When fans began commenting on it, he deleted the photo, but it was saved and leaked to the internet immediately, together with pictures of the suspected brand of cigarettes.
Fans were mad that he was abusing his voice, although others didn’t think there was enough proof. Then, the below tweet was posted and even more controversy erupted, with fans unsure what to believe.
8. Highlight’s Kikwang
When Highlight was BEAST, Gikwang was supposedly photographed on a balcony smoking. Highlight’s agency responded by stating, “We’re not sure whether it is Gikwang in the picture. Even if it is, he is of legal age to smoke in Korea, so we fail to see the issue.”
9. AOA’s Hyejeong and Seolhyun
During AOA’s appearance on KBS‘s “Song for You” in 2014, they played a game which required them to use plastic spoons to scoop up whipped cream. The camera then caught Hyejeong with the spoon in her mouth, and she grabbed it as if she was holding a cigarette. Korean netizens began to suspect that her instinct to hold the spoon in that certain way showed how heavy a smoker she was, or used to be. Others argued that it could simply be a coincidence and it would be difficult to decide based on that short clip.
The gif became famous and later resurfaced when a netizen posted a picture of a girl claimed to be Seolhyun smoking. This caused massive controversy online since Seolhyun had become South Korea’s darling. Most fans agreed that the picture was too fuzzy to prove anything and even if it was her, she’s an adult.
10. Park Yoochun
Park Yoochun‘s public smoking pictures caused massive public backlash since he was serving military service as a public servant at the time—a position he’d gotten since he couldn’t serve in active duty to his asthma. Many criticized the singer’s choice to smoke, as smoking for an asthma patient could bring about severe results. Some fans pointed out, “He can’t serve active duty because of asthma but he can smoke?“, and “Since you’re smoking, I guess your asthma is all better and you can serve active duty now.“