We will try to present just the facts and I confess that it's hard for me personally as well to understand the entirety of the situation, but we'll do our best to give you a thorough explanation of what is going on. After publishing this summary, we will most likely not continue to cover more articles about this incident.
- On the 2013.05.14 radio broadcast of Choi Hwajung's Power Time, the Secret members played a game where they were given two options and each member would say which one they preferred. This was to be a 'test of teamwork' to see if all of the members would agree on one thing. Out of the several pairs they were given, the Secret members all agreed three times. When the MC said that, Hyosung said, "저희는 개성을 존중하는 팀이거든요. 민주화시키지 않아요." which translates to "You see, we are a team that respects individuality. We don't force democratization."
- The term "민주화" or "democratization" had been taken as slang in an online community called Ilbe to, essentially, mean something negative. Ilbe seems to generally be considered as a group of internet users who commit heinous acts with a general disregard for respecting others. (I can't profess to know much about Ilbe at all, but there is an in-depth article in English here about Ilbe as a conservative political group and explaining the origin of Ilbe. Warning, there is some offensive language in this article and it does seem rather heated, so please take it with a grain of salt.) According to that article, they use "Democratization" as their down-voting button.
- Some netizens therefore claim that Hyosung was using the word "democratization" negatively and more aligning with the way that it is only used in Ilbe. These netizens continue by saying that therefore, Hyosung is an Ilbe user, which carries along with that many terrible connotations.
- In addition, for a historical context, because of the many travesties that occurred in Korea's history to get to the point of freedom they have now, including the Gwangju Massacre (of which the anniversary is soon, on the 18th), democratization and democracy can be seen as a serious thing. It is possible that some netizens are upset that Hyosung used the term so lightly, as if to belittle all of the struggles that people have suffered.
- TS's statement is that Hyosung accidentally misused the word and she meant to use "민주적이다," which would be that the team is democratic. Hyosung also wrote an apology that she published on Twitter that translates as such:
Hello. This is Secret's leader Jeon Hyosung.
I would like to apologize for my improper expression in my comments in today's 'Choi Hwajung's Power Time.' I am deeply reflecting on how I used an inapproriate word without knowing the exact definition of it. I am very sorry. I will take care not to have an incident like this happen again.
Once more, I would like to formally apologize.
- At this point, some netizens then wrote comments about if that is true, how Hyosung must be stupid to not know the definition of "democratization" and to not use it correctly. It has led to some comments that go so far as to even demand Hyosung being edited out of the Infinity Challenge episode that is to air, as it is about Korea's history, and especially due to the charged political history of Korea, some netizens are taking this to be extremely offensive. However, some netizens are also taking this to commentate on the witchhunt nature of netizens and also the state of society in general that could potentially lead to Hyosung hearing this word used improperly and taking it to be appropriate. It also seems that this has led Ilbe users to take this opportunity to make a joke of it and mass purchase Secret songs.
Again, as international fans, we see things from a different viewpoint than those who are in Korea and it is difficult to fully understand the whole story. But this is a collection of what we have gathered about the incident, and we have tried to present this information to you as factually as we could. If you have additional factual information to add to this or any corrections, please let us know.