In the past, it might take a K-Pop group to debut for netizens to interact with idols. However, it has become more common for groups to gain attention even before debuting. One of those is HYBE’s upcoming group, Trainee A.
One member who always caught the attention of netizens was member Leo. Australian-born Leo moved to South Korea at 17 to pursue his dream of becoming an idol. He speaks English and Korean fluently and gained attention for his skills in producing and writing music.
Even before Trainee A gained attention, Leo was already known to netizens after appearing alongside two members of NewJeans in BTS’s “Permission To Dance” music video.
However, he was the center of controversy after coming under fire for writing insensitive and misogynistic lyrics. He wrote a rap to the instrumental track of Playboi Carti’s “Stop Breathing.” His lyrics were quite different from the original song’s and even more explicit. Netizens were horrified at the lyrics that were deemed both insensitive and misogynistic.
The Trainee A official account on YouTube posted the two apologies in Korean and English to their channel’s “Community” section. The production team now recognizes the severity of the issue and promises to be cautious moving forward in content creation.
"he felt like something was missing" …?
the first pic is the og lyrics and the second is his lyrics. please do tell me what he thought was missing that wrong incriminate him further cuz dawg… https://t.co/jgO3Su75vf pic.twitter.com/2AqNTUM4Hk
— blank stare (@utyarui) December 28, 2021
Since then, Leo has not been as active as the other members. Yet, with the group documenting their journey to debut, netizens were shocked when the latest video shared that Leo was leaving the group.
In a group video following their journey to an evaluation, Leo honestly shared his feelings with the group and how he was mentally not in the right place.
It was then announced that he wasn’t going to continue with the group and a staff member shared that Leo felt a lot of pressure.
While preparing for the debut evaluation, Leo expressed his wish to quit. I think he felt a lot of pressure and had concerns whether he could do well in front of the public as an artist.
In a later video, Leo personally shared how fans had been worried considering his absence. He started by explaining his journey as a trainee and how many enjoyable moments he’s had, praising the company and others around him.
Leo then explained that, during those three years, he also had a lot of worries, and they kept growing. Many netizens assumed he was speaking about the reaction and hate he received after the lyrics gained attention from netizens.
During those three and a half years, the worries I’ve had kept getting bigger. I tried to hide them from others but the worries kept growing with time, until I couldn’t even control them.
He then added that after speaking with the company, he thought it would be best to take some time out rather than continue with Trainee A. As expected, he shared that it was a long thought process, especially as he knew how much it would impact the rest of the members.
Although many netizens believe it was the right option, especially after the controversy that many believe he couldn’t return, others raised concerns about the trainee’s wellbeing.
Some believed that it was the hate comments and threats he received because of the controversy and the company’s lack of protection for the idol. After seeing the lack of protection for former LE SSERAFIM member Kim Garam, many thought Leo was trying to protect himself.
leo leaving trainee a is absolutely heartbreaking and shows just how little mental help artist get from their own company. not a single person could help him enough to the point he gave up the dream he had been working towards for 3 years. 3rd member to leave. this is an issue!
— . (@rosieposiesrose) August 25, 2022
This is the result of online bullying. Leo is not blind. He could read the articles and the nasty comments asking for him to leave Trainee A.
So sad for Leo. If you think it's okay to destroy someone's dream, shame on you. Fix yourselves first, keyboard warriors! #traineea #leo
— SevenBordeauxStripes (@SevenBdxStripes) August 25, 2022
Leo leaving Trainee A because he wasn't feeling mentally okay
I fully blame all of you who endlessly attacked him, sent him dts and etc. He apologized multiple times, no one was asking you to forgive him but you could have atleast left him alone.
— Rayne ⁷ ₈ 🌸 ˚ ༘ ·༄ 20 (@rayukiyo) August 25, 2022
Many fans raised sadness that Leo would no longer be debuting in Trainee A. However, Leo promised he would be back, and many hope he waits until he is in a better place with his mental health. Yet, it raises concerns about the impact of the idol lifestyle on mental health.
You can read more about the initial controversy below.