K-pop star Chungha confirmed to have Covid-19

K-pop star Chungha is currently isolating after her positive Covid-19 result and those around her have undergone testing. (MNH Entertainment via South China Morning Post photo)

Chungha, one of the K-pop industry’s biggest solo stars, has contracted Covid-19, her company MNH Entertainment announced Monday.

Chungha, full name Kim Chung-ha, is the latest in a series of K-pop stars to test positive, coming after two members of boy band Up10tion and two members of girl group Everglow announced their positive results last week.

All of the artists, including Chungha, are isolating and those around them have undergone testing, but the infections have sparked fears of a coronavirus cluster within the K-pop industry.

Later on Monday, JYP Entertainment announced that girl group Twice were undergoing testing as member Sana had been in contact with Chungha.

Twice attended Sunday night’s Mnet Asian Music Awards (Mama) ceremony, sparking fears of an outbreak linked to the event. Girl group Iz*One were the first other Mama attendee to announce they would get tested and cancelled scheduled events promoting their new single and album, set to arrive on Monday at 5pm Hong Kong time (3pm Thailand time).

Twenty-four-year-old soloist Chungha was informed earlier in December that she had been in contact with a confirmed case and underwent testing. She received her results Monday morning, according to MNH, and those she had been in contact with had been alerted to ensure they undergo testing.

South Korea is currently in the middle of its worst coronavirus wave to date, with the country seeing its most cases of Covid-19 since the outbreak started.

Although the K-pop industry has soldiered on throughout 2020, with performances held without live audiences and inter-industry outbreaks largely avoided, concerns about the virus are starting to affect the Seoul-based music world. On Sunday night, this year’s Mama made masks mandatory on stage and rumours circulated that stars and staff weren’t waiting backstage but in cars or outside the venue.

Other changes are rapidly taking place across the industry. Along with Mama’s mask precautions, BTS’ label Big Hit Entertainment has announced that its New Year’s Eve concert will no longer aim to have both a live and online audience, but go wholly online. BTS, GFriend, Tomorrow X Together, Nu’Est, Enhypen and other artists are set to perform.

Many other artists, including soloists Gummy, Baek Ji-young and Solji of Exid, have cancelled upcoming concerts. December is traditionally concert season in South Korea, with many artists hosting holiday and New Year’s Eve concerts.

Chungha is due to release her first full-length album Querencia on January 4, but it is now unknown whether she will have to change her promotional schedule for the release.

Chungha’s name promptly began trending on South Korean internet portals as the news spread across the country.