The K-pop star came under fire for being allegedly involved in a power abuse controversy. Here is a detailed account of the bullying scandal and translations of the Instagram posts concerned. 

On October 20, 2020, A fashion editor’s Instagram post claimed that an unnamed celebrity power-harassed her. Later the curiosity hovering over the media was quelled when it surfaced that the celebrity was none else than Irene, the leader of Red Velvet.

Irene’s cute picture from her Insta page
Irene seen as part of Red Velvet
Red Velvet The ReVe Festival 2022 Feel My Rhythm

Read on to know the incident that caused this allegation and a summary of the reactions from the Internet.

Irene’s power abuse controversy on Instagram

Irene with her Red Velvet Friend Seulrene

A fashion stylist and editor, Kang Kook-Hwa stated on her Instagram account on October 21, 2020.

“Today was an unfortunate day for me as I was humiliated and verbally abused, which occurred to me as one more instance of power-harassment prevalent in the entertainment industry. While those witnessing the incident had also found it as inhuman, the act was committed by a doll clad in a smiling mask.

I would prefer calling her an adult child who lacks in character and maturity. She too has the stupid attitude of revealing her mean nature to someone who she meets for the first time.

I had prepared myself mentally for such an unlucky encounter because I had heard of her and I had an idea of what to expect from her. However, finally when I found myself the victim of her stupid behavior, I stood speechless and shocked.

I felt like fully frozen and could not move my limbs or think from my brain. She lashed out and was fully unprepared to listen to my repeated explanations. I had a feeling that I had met all the different kinds of people in my career spanning over 15 years in the industry, but I felt I was wrong.

In an unfamiliar setting, I felt I was in hell for 20 minutes. She never had the courtesy to greet us. She sat in the chair with her phone in hand and threw a spiteful anger at me hysterically. She was so furious and I had the difficulty to understand if she was only angry at me or towards everyone in the room.

I understood that I was her target for the day and shared the turmoil that her other earlier victims would have endured. She continuously bombarded me with her unpalatable words and tears rolled down my face when I felt too weak to stop crying in front of others.

I could never figure out the reason for her malicious behavior even after thinking about it for so long. I had many questions thronging my brain from several directions – Why am I enduring all this? What was I trying to prove the world by enduring the abuse I was undergoing? Why was I chosen as her target for the day?”

I managed to calm myself down and wanted to talk to her in person. I wanted her to apologize to me for her bad behavior. But, before I could move in this direction, she had disappeared from the scene.

Something prompted me to voice record the whole episode and I am going to take serious action. As an editor and reporter, I have been accurate in presenting facts through my writing. I will use all my might, and power to do something about this.” 

Though she had not named the celebrity who she alleged for the bad behavior, she had closed her post with two hashtags, “#psycho” and “#monster,” that referred to the titles that Irene had participated earlier in the same year. This was enough for the probing social media users to speculate the artist referred to in the post.

Many guesses pointed out to Irene. The editor’s post was liked by some prominent personalities. In the comments section, some readers even showed their support to the editor.

Irene apologizes on Instagram and personally to the editor

What is Irene scared of

When people were getting curious to know who the fashion editor’s post was talking about, Irene posted an apology on Instagram on October 22, the very next day. In the said post, Irene had personally accepted that the content was about her.

“My name is Irene. I sincerely apologize for hurting the stylist with my foolish attitude and careless words and action.” Irene’s post was accompanied by an image of a black square.

Writing further, Irene said, “There were a lot of people who helped me to get where I am now, and I regret hurting them with immature behavior. I regret and regret the fact that my immature behavior caused deep hurt.”

Her message looked genuine when it read, “Looking back over the time I have spent here through this experience, I am ashamed of my immature words and actions, and I am reminded of the importance of the staff members. Irene had also added that she would “think and act more carefully” moving forward.

In an open statement to her fans, she said, “I sincerely apologize to all my fans who supported me despite my immature behavior and to all those who were inconvenienced by this incident.

Irene’s agency, SM Entertainment, has officially announced that she had met with her stylist, and apologized in person.

The agency wrote, “Irene met the stylist in person for sincerely apologizing for her bad behavior. We highly regret for what has happened and feel so sorry for showing immature and careless behavior to others around.

While we assume the full responsibility in this matter, we wish to state that we will never disregard the hard work our staff have been putting forth while collaborating with our artists. We will ensure in future that such incidents do not recur.”

The fact that Ms. A has deleted this text from her own Instagram page suggests that the apology was made by Irene and was accepted by the stylist.

Irene’s power abuse controversy – How the Koreans reacted

Irene was born in 1991 and she is 31 years old in 2022.

She is the leader of Red Velvet and a highly popular member of SM Entertainment.

The power abuse controversy exposing the bitter side of Irene’s personality shocked the general public and her fans when she accepted the allegation and registered her apologies.

A comment read thus, “I believed you.” “You look like an angel, but act like a devil.”

Some people said, “Maybe she should retire and get married.”

When such controversies become trending topics pursued by the general public, the problem cannot be solved merely when the parties involved work it out for an amicable settlement.

Some people demanded that she must leave the group as her presence would damage the group’s image and reputation.

However, the stylist who made the allegations has already deleted the concerned post meaning that she had accepted Irene’s apologies.

Many Internet savvies also started exploring who liked the post by the fashion editor. It came to light that many people who worked with Irene earlier had liked the post including a former Red Velvet stylist, an entertainment journalist, a famed magazine editor, a leading industry photographer, and a nail artist among many other notable personalities.


When the controversy regarding Irene’s admitted misbehavior towards the fashion editor was trending on the media, netizens were also discussing one of Mone Fukuhara’s former post.

In the post under discussion, the Japanese former trainee of SM had stated, “I still remember when I was a trainee and Joohyun unni bullied me, Seulgi unni helped me.” In this statement, she was referring to Irene’s birth name and Seulgi, Irene’s fellow Red Velvet member.

When this post added more fuel to the controversy already going on around that time, she quickly deleted it and added, “I’m writing this because I think there’s been a little misunderstanding. When I said that she bullied me, I didn’t mean that she did it constantly. I just meant that she scolded me when there was something I did that she didn’t like.”

Quite a many people voiced their support to the uproar. But Soo Kyung, a famous makeup artist defended Irene saying, “Irene is a good person like what her fans think of her. I want to support Irene and I want her to cheer up.”

A choreographer working with Red Velvet shared, “For about five years now, I have been in charge of choreography at Red Velvet. I am posting this message in responding to the many rumors surrounding Joohyn (Irene). As I have known of her, Joohyun is a hardworking girl, enthusiastic, cute and detail oriented. She always texts me to share her gratitude and thoughts.”

Irene’s Insta Pictures

Around 10.4 million fans follow Irene on her Instagram handle. Here is a collection of some rare pictures of Irene posted on Instagram.

Irene at Chanel Ink Library
Irene celebrating her birthday with red Velvet pals
Irene Feel My Rhythm
Irene in her innocent looks
Irene in one of her best outfits
Irene moving out for a casual outing
Irene on her vacation
Irene the queen of Red Velvet
Irene waiting to celebrate her birthday
Irene whispering to the crops
Irene’s cute picture from Insta


It is very crucial for every artist to maintain the social image to be able to grow and sustain in the entertainment industry. When some controversies result in the loss of trust, it gets very difficult to regain the lost reputation. Irene’s power abuse scandal became one of the trending topics of discussion on the social media.

There were questions if this incident would spell a disaster to Irene’s career. Some even opined that the controversy could see Irene out of Red Velvet and that red Velvet would be shut down once for all.

It is said, “To err is Human”. Irene also has some admirable traits in her personality. While Irene’s quick and detailed apology looks so genuine and commendable, she will have to put forth a lot of effort in future to see that such comments do not repeat. By focusing more on her career and perfecting her behavior, Irene can journey towards a promising future. 

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