This was probably not the welcome K-pop boy band BTS expected after they returned from a one-month break this week.
A photo believed to be from leaked CCTV footage showing Jungkook, the youngest member of BTS, hugging a female tattoo artist from behind went viral on the Internet on Monday (Sept 16).
Another photo circulating on the Internet showed Jungkook, who turned 22 on Sept 1, eating together with the tattoo artist.
The netizen who uploaded the photos said Jungkook and his friends went to a karaoke outlet on South Korea’s Geoje Island several days ago. The owner of the karaoke outlet, a friend of the netizen, did not realise Jungkook was from BTS until he looked through the CCTV footage and recognised him.
Some fans initially doubted the man in the photo was Jungkook and even claimed he was South Korean rapper Hash Swan, who later denied on his Instagram account that it was him.
While the boy band’s management agency Big Hit has acknowledged that the person in the photos is Jungkook, it denied in a statement on Tuesday that he was dating.
The agency said that Jungkook had gone to Geoje Island and met friends from a tattoo parlour.
It added that it was regretful that the content of the photos had been distorted and said it would investigate if the photos were a breach of privacy and might take legal action. It also warned that it would take legal action against netizens who spread false rumours.
On Tuesday, the tattoo artist in question, identified as Lee Mijoo, clarified on Instagram that she was not in a relationship with Jungkook.
She added that she did not tattoo the words Army and J on Jungkook’s hand, after netizens had called attention to the words and speculated that this was done by the tattoo artist. BTS fans are known as the Army.
While there was no reported ban on dating for BTS members, K-pop music companies often impose a strict no-dating rule on their artists.
Last year, pop music stars HyunA and E’Dawn left their management company after they disclosed that they were dating each other.