5 Korean Celebrities Who Caused Controversy with Underage Photos of Drinking and Smoking

Here are the most controversial stars who faced scrutiny over their past underage photos depicting them drinking and smoking.

Celebrities can rise or fall in an instant with just one old photo. Some stars have apologized and acknowledged their past, while others have been expelled for acts that cannot be tolerated. Let’s take a look back at the stars who caused controversy with photos taken during their underage years.

Kim Sae Ron

Kim Sae Ron, who recently sparked controversy over her part-time job lie in addition to drunk driving. In 2014, she became a topic of conversation due to several photos posted on an online community.

Kim sae ron

The photo was of Kim Sae Ron and a young girl drinking wine, with several other photos of Kim Sae Ron’s appearance during his underage years being circulated on the internet.

The photos were taken when Kim Sae Ron was in the second year of middle school (15 years old). In one photo, wine can be seen as Kim Sae Ron sits with her friends, while another photo taken in a karaoke room shows her smoking, causing a stir among netizens.

As the controversy spread, Kim Sae Ron said, “I’m sorry for taking the photo while sitting on the sofa without even realizing that wine is alcohol. I was excited to be able to rest during my busy schedule. I’m sorry if I didn’t even realize that I was smoking in the karaoke room.


Recently, former After School member and actress Nana (Im Jin Ah) gained attention for her bold tattoos. In 2011, Nana made headlines due to photos of her past posted on an online community.


In the photo, Nana is dressed in heavy makeup, high heels, and a mini-skirt, making it hard to believe that she was a high school student. The background of the photo shows cigarette packs and a gas cylinder, and another photo taken on the same day shows a glass full of beer.

Regarding the suspicion of her being an iljin during high school, Nana said on MBC’s “Radio Star”, “I have never robbed anyone of money. I don’t regret the time I spent having fun in high school. The past is just the past.


Former SISTAR member Soyou was once caught up in an ‘iljin’ rumor. Several photos of Soyou during her middle school days, suspected to have been taken in a bar, were released. Even her classmates spread unverified rumors.


Interestingly, the rumor of Soyou’s association with ‘iljin’ was quickly extinguished. Afterward, SISTAR became known as a girl group without bullying controversies, with reactions from Korean netizens such as “If there is something they don’t like, they seem to settle it coolly over a drink of soju,” “All of them are too strong,” and “It feels like only high school iljins were gathered.

Choi Jong Hoon 

Choi Jong Hoon was involved in the Burning Sun scandal and was sentenced to 2 years and 6 months in prison for multiple counts of illegal filming and distribution. 

He was controversial from the beginning of his debut. Photos of him as a minor drinking and smoking and having fun were spread, leading to rumors of him being part of a gang. 


In one of the photos, he was surrounded by girls in a room bar, holding a bottle of alcohol, which earned him the nickname “Room Jong Hoon” in Korea. 

In 2016, Choi was caught by the police for drunk driving in Itaewon. At the time, he did not inform his agency about the incident and even tried to persuade the police not to let the public know about his drunk driving.

Choi Jong Hoon lost the trust of his fans and was expelled from FNC Entertainment in 2019. He had already been expelled from the entertainment industry before being involved in the Burning Sun scandal.

Cha Ju Hyuk

Cha Ju Hyuk was photographed as a minor with his feet on a table full of alcohol in a bar, wearing a suit. This caused a lot of controversy. The rumor of him being part of a gang added to the public’s negative perception of him. He eventually left his group in 2011, just one year after his debut.


In 2012, Cha Jo Hyuk re-started his career as an actor. However, he was not able to continue his career for long. In 2017, he was prosecuted for drug use. He admitted to both drug trafficking and smoking marijuana. In 2018, he was permanently banned from appearing on broadcasts, effectively ending his career as an entertainer.

Source: Wikitree. 

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