UPDATE: This article includes several significant updates to include information that has come to light since it was first published. | 26/02/2021 08:09:19 KST
Over the past week, many popular idols and actors have been swept up in allegations, where they were accused of bullying other students in school. Many have been denied by their respective agencies, the celebrities themselves, and other fellow classmates.
Here is a list of the celebrities who were caught up in school violence accusations this week. All dates are in KST.
1. Actor Jo Byung Gyu
On February 16, a netizen and alleged former classmate of Jo Byung Gyu accused the actor of bullying in high school.
One day, I saw a classmate that I had never seen before and it happened to be Jo Byung Kyu. On that day, I was trying to leave my classroom, but he stopped me to talk. […] The way he was speaking to me made it evident that he was trying to pick a fight. His attitude put me in a bad mood so I didn’t respond and just left. I think my response made him angry. […] To conclude, Jo Byung Kyu did not use any physical violence. He only abused me verbally.
The netizen shared photos of school memorabilia and old Kakaotalk messages as proof.
That same day, Jo Byung Gyu’s label, HB Entertainment, denied all claims and announced that they’ve already started taking legal action.
We want to inform you that we have officially requested a police investigation in order to hold the person responsible for spreading false information and the indiscriminate malicious comments that are posted through the online community.
— HB Entertainment
On February 19, another alleged victim and former classmate of Jo Byung Gyu created an Instagram account, @victimofmr_cho, to come forward with further claims of bullying.
The Korean community is small in Auckland, New Zealand, so he became famous amongst all the schools and became acquaintances with all the iljins (people with bad reputations, bullies.
One day, our school ended early and I was forced to go to karaoke with two others. The three of us went there, and the karaoke fee came up to be about $25-30. Of course, I was forced to pay it all. They told me to sing the last song, but I’m tone deaf so I told him I’m not good at singing. It was then that he grabbed the microphone and started to hit me with it. My knees, legs, shoulders, etc. He kept hitting me so I had to sing and they laughed at me…
This second alleged victim outlined other incidents with the actor and shared old high school photos as alleged proof. The Instagram posts have since been deleted.
On February 22, KBS announced that it has halted the production of Come Back Home, a new variety show starring Jo Byung Gyu, but denied that this decision was in relation to the bullying accusations.
On February 23, Jo Byung Gyu also took to Instagram to release a personal statement in which he acknowledged that he went to the same school as the victim but never had any relation to him.
2. Soojin ((G)I-DLE)
On February 20, the alleged victim’s older sister, identified as “A”, relased bullying rumors against (G)I-DLE’s Soojin. “A” claimed that her younger sister fell victim to Soojin’s bullying. She claimed that Soojin would call her sibling and her sibling’s friend to the bathroom and “make them slap each other and would send group texts saying that [her] sibling is a loner/outcast.”
According to their claims, Soojin also stole other students’ school uniforms and money, and that she went around with older guys who rode motorcycles while drinking and smoking.
The older sister went on to claim that she bullied “Miss Seo,” who is speculated to be actress Seo Shin Ae.
Everyday, on the way to school, you’d scream behind her. You’d say things like, “Hey you, little b*tch!” and “You bbang– ddong–!” You’d even mock her like, “What are you going to do without any parents?” You also made her get into fights by spreading rumors about her. You kept pressuring her to tailor her skirt shorter, saying that it’s too long.
— Netizen “A”
On February 22, Seo Shin Ae appeared to have chimed in to the controversy when she posted a cryptic Instagram story, which fans believe correlated to the accusations.
That same day, CUBE Entertainment, Soojin’s label, denied the claims.
Hello this is CUBE Entertainment. We’ve talked to Soojin about the online post that is circulating and she has confirmed the following: The original poster (OP) is an older sister to the alleged victim who went to the same middle school with Soojin. The OP once heard the alleged victim and Soojin argue over the phone. The OP also spoke to Soojin over the phone, also in argument.
All other claims made by the OP regarding the school bullying, however, have been confirmed as false.
The agency also stated that they will be monitoring the false rumours and taking appropriate legal action as needed.
Soojin made a personal statement, admitting to having had “negative rumours following [her] around” in school but denying all bullying allegations.
On February 25, the first alleged victim was scheduled to meet with representatives from CUBE Entertainment. According to the victim’s legal representatives, the only thing that the alleged victim is asking for is a sincere apology from Soojin.
On February 26, a netizen claiming to be a former classmate of Soojin stepped up to reveal that Soojin was a victim of bullying and rarely crossed paths with Seo Shin Ae.
3. Actor Kim Dong Hee
On February 21, a set of anonymous netizens accused the Itaewon Class actor Kim Dong Hee of being a bully during high school.
Kim Dong Hee would wear his e-cigarette around his neck or keep it in his uniform pocket and he would sometimes smoke in the classroom. He would slap the disabled students or call some classmates to play games that are disadvantageous to them, then slap them. He also bullied the more vulnerable students, forcing them to give him massages.
— Netizen “B”
On February 22, JYP Entertainment denied everything and promised to take legal action.
In response this time around, we plan on pursuing legal action against the poster. We will do our best to protect our actors from being affected by these false accusations.
— JYP Entertainment
4. Yunhyeong (iKON)
On February 21, an alleged former classmate of Yunhyeong claimed to have been bullied by him in middle school.
In middle school, he would ruin the self-esteem of female classmates by rating their looks in front of them. YH, because of you life was so hard that I wanted to die.
He would frequently hangout with iljins (bullies, people with bad reputations.) There used to be a picture of him smoking cigarettes in the boys restroom, but it got deleted? […] Let’s be real, I’m not the only victim. I’m curious about the others…after you started attending the arts school, I heard that you cut off contact with everyone…I wonder if they have anything they’d want to expose?
— Alleged victim
However, on February 22, multiple other alleged classmates stepped up to defend him and deny the claims.
I was one of the female students in Song Yunhyeong’s class. I’m writing this because of his alleged bullying accusations. He wasn’t an iljin, but he wasn’t necessarily a smart model student either. However, he was pleasant friend…he got along with everyone.
— Alleged former classmate (1)
Another one recalled that he was kind and liked to sing.
I am writing this after seeing the bullying allegations made against iKON’s Song Yunhyeong. I am also a female student that used to be in the same class as him and none of the stories are true. I know the person who wrote the allegations and even I want to know why they wrote such things…
It isn’t fair to Song Yunhyeong to receive all the blame when it isn’t true, which is why I’m refuting these claims. I have never heard Song Yunhyeong curse. He was a kind, normal middle school student. The only thing I can remember is that he enjoyed singing.
— Alleged former classmate (2)
A third alleged classmate called out the original poster, calling them “A” and referring to their claims as “baseless rumors.”
YH was a talented friend. He was liked by everyone and was popular. He wasn’t a bully or an iljin or a bad kid, but rather he was a naive insider.
I don’t think it’s fair that ‘A’ is using their personal differences to make up baseless rumors that can’t be proven. These accusations of school violence and YH being an iljin is ruining his reputation. He is being attacked with malicious rumors that were clearly written in anger.
— Alleged former classmate (3)
Yunhyeong’s label, YG Entertainment, has yet to comment on these claims.
5. Kim Sohye (Former member of I.O.I)
On February 22, an anonymous netizen accused Kim Sohye of being a school bully but claimed that they were not a direct victim but simply a classmate.
Kim Sohye was standing by a bench and the victim was sitting on the bench and looking at her phone, not listening to what Kim Sohye was saying. Kim Sohye got angry, grabbed the victim’s hair, forced her on her knees, and hit her. […] Fans ask why so many people know about the incident… That’s because she talked about it herself.
Later that same day, S&P Entertainment, Kim Sohye’s agency, denied the claims and vowed to take legal action.
After checking with Kim Sohye, we can confirm that the allegations are groundless. In the past, similar false claims had been made and we reported them to the police — eventually receiving an apology for the spread of false information. At the time, we settled with the malicious poster, so it’s absurd that more accusations are still being made in the same way.
We are planning on reporting this to the police.
— S&P Entertainment
6. Mingyu (SEVENTEEN)
On February 22, the alleged victim claimed that, during her first year of middle school, a group of “scary kids + unnies” would steal from her and verbally assault her.
***gyu would laugh at me getting bullied, and he even threw coke lids at my face from 4-5 meters away. When it hit me, he would laugh even harder.
And I think it was during our last year of middle school when Kim ***gyu got cast in front of school by Pl*** and passed his auditions. He sent me one text message. […] He said he was going to the practice room but didn’t have money to pay for it. He messaged me to gather ₩5,000 KRW (~$4.50 USD) by tomorrow. […] I was only able to scrape up about ₩3,300 KRW.
— Alleged Victim
The original post has since been deleted from the online community. That same day, another alleged former classmate also stepped up to defend Mingyu,
Fellow alumni would know but even if it was true that he was abit of an iljin, he was close with everyone in the school. It’s not really that he was close to those people that he hung out with them but he just generally liked people and was close with everyone.
— Alleged Former Classmate
Mingyu’s agency, Pledis Entertainment, denied these claims.
We have confirmed with Mingyu himself. The claims made against him are groundless and obviously false.
It took time for us to check the facts thoroughly. There is a yearbook picture which the accuser posted, but it is completely different from Mingyu’s yearbook picture. Also, unlike the accusation which stated Mingyu began his traineeship in 9th grade, he actually started training in 8th grade.
The post has been deleted. We simply don’t understand the intentions the accuser had.
— Pledis Entertainment
7. Actress Park Hye Su
Park Hye Su’s group would harass me and verbally abuse me. She was famous at school for being a bully and taking money from kids.
In around March of 2011, Park and her group called me and said, ‘Why do you live like that?” After that phone call, I was harassed by all the bullies at our school. It became so bad that my homeroom teacher even recommended that I transfer schools, which I refused at that time.
—Alleged Victim A
Park’s agency Studio Santa Claus has denied these allegations and is planning on taking legal action.
We deeply understand the seriousness of school bullying within the entertainment industry and have conducted a detailed investigation on the authenticity of the alleged victim’s post. As a result, we have confirmed that the posts are false facts about Park Hye Su. We plan to take strict action to the extent permitted by law, including criminal complaints as well as civil liability claims, so we ask that you stop posting and distributing false posts.
—Studio Santa Claus
After the agency’s statement, a group of accusers stepped up, claiming that they were “taken aback and very angered by the article that said these are falsehoods.”
Multiple promotional schedules for her upcoming drama Dear.M were cancelled due to these allegations, even though her agency has denied all of them.
However, later that evening, the original poster (A), clarified that Park Hye Su is innocent and that she was wrongfully believed to be the bully in question.
Although I have made additional posts to the original one to clarify that it is not Park Hye Su that was the bully, many articles were using her photographs along with the contents of my post. I want to be clear again that it is not Park Hye Su.
— Alleged Victim A
On February 24, a member of victims collective, referred to as “K,” sat for an interview with news outlet Biz And Sports World to explain their situation. This victim collective is unrelated to alleged victim and original poster “A.”
She called about 10 students, guys and girls, to a noraebang and hit me. That was the first round. Everyone hit me once each. […]
The third round was in an apartment complex playground and around 20 girls hit me. […] When she said her hand hurt, she made a guy hit me. My lips split and I had a nosebleed and my ears were bruised. […] My dad called Park Hye Su and she cursed and said that since ahjussi didn’t educated his XX daughter properly, this happened. She was bold about it. My dad wanted to meet her to speak and they did, and the image of him crying when he got back from meeting her is still etched in my mind.
[…] Later on, I received apologies from those that were at the group bullying scene. They said that they were scared they would get hit too and they were sorry they were observers. Park Hye Su was the leader of the discord and making people outcasts. Park Hye Su was the leader of all this but she didn’t mention this matter or even apologize.
On the same day, Studio Santa Claus responded to the collective, denying the claims once again and stating that they are planning to take legal action.
The company has enough evidence confirmed that is able to prove that the bullying accusations are false. Hence, we have reason to believe that those that claim to be victims during this process are doing so for economic benefit. Following, if any who claim to be victims arise, we recommend you to go through legal routes in order for your own personal benefit and we will respond as such with sincerity.
— Studio Santa Claus
KBS then confirmed that the first broadcast of Dear.M will be delayed. The new broadcast date is TBD.
8. Hyunjin (Stray Kids)
On Februar 22, an anonymous netizen made a post accusing Stray Kids’ Hyunjin of assaulting him and bullying him in the class group chat.
He didn’t like the fact that I asked him to close the back door to the classroom when he always sat in the back. Second, my friend who had to do lunch duty to get lunch, since he wasn’t on the school meal plan. Hyunjin didn’t like that, and criticized my friend, saying ‘I don’t like that you get a lot for lunch. You’re the reason why other students can’t eat lunch’.
He would say, ‘You look like that because you have no mother,’ and would say abusive things, sexually harassing things, and family insults. His unprovoked mockery and insensitivity, and quarrels where he wanted to hit people were shocking.
However, the netizen was not able to elaborate on these claims.
Later that same day, a former classmate of Hyunjin’s came out to counter this statement, claiming that Hyunjin did not commit any violence and was a bright student who was trusted by his classmates. This alleged classmate then went on to refute all of the previous claims.
He was always bright and had a harmonious relationship with his friends, and he was trusted by his classmates to the extent that he was appointed the class president in 8th grade, when the accuser posted that they were bullied.
He made school life for his friends so nice, that there are many friends of his who still think of him in this sense, even six years later.
On February 23, JYP Entertainment denied these accusations and announced that they will be taking legal action.
There are many discrepancies in the circulating allegations. After we confirmed this, we have concluded that this rumor was released with malicious intent. We will be taking legal action against these lies that are being spread. Our company will do its best to find out the truth, as well as protect our artists.
On February 24, a second alleged classmate stepped up to accuse him of bullying, sharing screenshots of Kakaotalk messages between himself and other alleged classmates.
During my second year of middle school, I was in the same class as Hwang Hyunjin. I am a victim of his school violence. He caused me so much pain that I contemplated committing suicide.
He beat me up on campus because I didn’t block the ball during a soccer game. He cursed at me and picked on me because of my size. I became a loser all because I couldn’t block the soccer ball. After this incident, I became the target of Hwang Hyunjin’s mockery and torment. […]
I may not have physical evidence, but I do have witnesses. I have been collecting their testimonies. I’m sorry that I only have my words and no actual evidence. […] I didn’t want to have proof of the experiences that made life so difficult for me. I wanted to die back then because it was too much to handle.
—The second alleged victim
Later that day, Hyunjin was absent from Stray Kids’ first performance following these allegations and JYP Entertainment shared an explanation.
As we announced previously, we are trying to find out the clear truth [to the accusations]. Regardless, Hyunjin expressed his desire to not attend this event at this time, so he did not perform.
His future schedules will be determined according to the state of affairs.
— JYP Entertainment
9. Sunwoo (THE BOYZ)
On February 22, an alleged victim accused THE BOYZ’s Sunwoo of school violence, sexual harassment, and date violence. They also included a photo of their school graduation to prove that they were schoolmates.
He went around making sex jokes and jokes involving others’ families.
When you were in your first year of middle school, you dated XX and committed date violence and the girl had to go around school with bruises all over her body. […] You didn’t attend classes and went to smoke outside of school, and you guys gathered to drink whenever you guys felt like it and talked so dirtily that I can’t even say it. Is it not considered school violence just because you didn’t use physical violence? […]
Just because you search up posts on your controversies one by one and delete them, it doesn’t make the way you smoked in our school corners, the way you did date violence, the way you sexually harassed us, sexually assaulted us, go away.
— Alleged Victim
On February 23, Cre.Ker Entertainment released an official statement regarding these rumours, stating that the accusations were completely false, and that they will take legal action.
We would like to advise that the contents of the post such as physical abuse etc, are all false. The post has been deleted since.
The company is continuously investigating the matter as well as collecting materials, for which falsehoods have been created and spread, and for which our artist has suffered slander and personal attacks as well as malicious posts. […] In order to make the (person who is behind) the creation of falsehoods legally responsible for the case, we will continue to collect materials against it and follow procedures, in order to deal with it strongly.
— Cre.Ker Entertainment
10. Chuu (LOONA)
On February 22, an alleged classmate of LOONA’s Chuu claimed that she and another girl, J*B, would bully their classmates.
J*B and Kim Jiwoo (Chuu’s legal name) went around and made kids the outcasts. And the reason why was simply that they just didn’t like them. One day, one of my close friends, A, was made the outcast. I was the only one who would eat and chat with A, and I guess Kim Jiwoo didn’t like that so Kim Jiwoo talked to A and made it sound like I was the one that instigated making A the outcast.
Later on, they invited me to a group chat and cursed me out or threatened me, and they once blocked me on my way home from school to curse at me.
The alleged classmate goes on to explain further incidents with Chuu, such as her stealing a pen or sighing loudly when the OP had to present in front of the class.
On February 23, Chuu’s label, Blockberry Creative, made a statement denying the claims and promising legal action.
We would like to inform everyone that the claims raised by the accuser contains contents that are different than what is true. In addition, we will not overlook the situation, and make every effort to protect the rights and interests of our artists.
— Blockberry Creative
Later that evening, the original accuser apologized in a new post, stating that the claims were exaggerated.
During our school days, I wasn’t on good terms with Kim Jiwoo (Chuu), and as time went on, those memories must’ve dramatized in my mind. When I first wrote the post, I had a feeling something was off, so I thought about taking it down. But due to my bad judgment, we’ve come to this point. […] I didn’t know it would escalate so far. I once again apologize to LOONA’s Chuu.
11. Soyeon ((G)I-DLE)
On February 22, a netzien claiming to be a former middle school classmate of (G)I-DLE’s Soyeon accused her of bullying her to the point that she considered transferring schools.
You said that since it was my birthday, I had to treat everyone. And you kept asking me what I was going to buy you. There were other incidents, too… But I won’t mention them here. I was having such a hard time because of you that I considered asking my parents to send me to a school abroad.
CUBE Entertainment has yet to make a statement.
12. Kihyun (MONSTA X)
On February 23, an alleged former middle school classmate accused Kihyun of bullying and school violence.
He was one of those iljins (bullies with bad reputations). He would call me and others like me ‘losers.’ I got bullied and hit. I had weird rumors tagged onto me that followed me around. My money was taken from me and I also had to buy cigarettes for him. He wasn’t as severe as other iljins, but there was a female classmate who was in our class that cried because he also hit her.
— Alleged Classmate
Included in the claim were old photos of his PTSD treatment medication and old scars from self-harm in the past, which he insisted to have been caused by the bullying trauma. The post has since been deleted, and photos of Kihyun were noted to have circulated online before during a previous, separate allegation.
Later that same day, Kihyun’s label, Starship Entertainment, released an official statement saying that they are working on verifying all allegations, though pointing out that all allegations had been confirmed as false back in 2015.
The person who published this post is the same one who published these accusations in 2015. At that time, we contacted the accuser to verify the facts, and we confirmed that the post was false. We attempted to take legal action to protect our artist, but we were promised that the author of the post would reflect on their actions and prevent this from happening again. In consideration of the circumstances of the accuser, we agreed and settled after receiving the agreement in writing…
… We will do our best to protect the rights of our artists by following through with legal action through consistent monitoring of slander and the spread of false information, which is a violation of the Information and Communication Network Act.
— Starship Entertainment
On February 26, Starship Entertainment made another statement denying the allegations and sharing school records as proof, stating that they will be taking legal action against the accuser.
Regarding the school violence rumors, the artist himself, school officials, alumni and other acquaintances directly confirmed the facts. All their testimonies confirm that Kihyun never participated in school violence. […]
We will be taking legal action against those who have been uploading these alleged instances from 2015 and 2021. We have contacted a legal representative. On February 26th, we took our case to the Gangnam Prosecution office where we decided that we will sue for defamation by spreading false information. […] We will be suing those who defame our artists, who ruin their honor and get in the way of their activities by spreading false information. We plan on taking strong legal action.
13. Aisha (EVERGLOW)
On February 22, an alleged victim claimed that “‘A’, an idol member born in ’00” would make sexually harassing comments to other students and consistently harass the accuser. The accuser later revealed that “A” was Aisha.
A’s bullying started after I got into a relationship with one of her guy friends. A started to harass me saying sexual things such as ‘How far did you go with him’,’Have you slept with him yet’, ‘I can smell X from here’, ‘Poor guy fell for a virgin’ etc. I can’t write everything out but she continuously harassed me.
Sometime in September~October, A grabbed me by the neck and blurted out ‘She wants to sleep with you!’ out the window to my then-boyfriend and everyone else who was at the playground. […] I had a hard time because there were many boys who would approach me in a weird way due to such rumors.
— Alleged Victim
The accuser shared photos of their yearbook as proof but the post has since been deleted.
On February 23, Aisha’s label, Yuehua Entertainment, made a statement denying the claims.
After confirming the details with [Aisha], [the accusations] are not true at all.
We can’t even find out who the accuser is. Stop the indiscriminate speculative reporting and dissemination of false information that hasn’t been confirmed or verified for accuracy.
If this continues, we will take strong measures to protect our artists.
— Yuehua Entertainment
On February 23, an alleged victim “A” revealed that they were bullied by HyunA in the fifth grade, who slapped their face, along with two other alleged victims. The alleged victim also included old photographs of HyunA as proof.
Do you not remember or are you pretending not to remember or are you only thinking it internally? […] It was during a festival in the fifth grade. You called me and my friends out to the place we called the ‘back street’ and told us that you never thought of us as friends and that you would come and find us if we didn’t come out. As soon as we came, you slapped all three of our faces. […] The reason why I never revealed any of this is because there isn’t any evidence and I thought that no one would believe me. […] Any other classmates that attended Inwang Elementary or Dong Myung Girls Middle School, please leave any comments if you have anything to add.
— alleged victim A
That same day, HyunA posted a personal statement on Instagram denying these accusations and explaining that, since she became a trainee at such a young age, most of her time outside of school would be spent practicing.
At 12 years old and in the fifth grade, I started my trainee days in order to fulfill my dream of becoming a singer. […] I always had to take the bus to the agency right after school so that was my only memory of my school years. At that young age, I always felt that I was robbed of my childhood because that was my only memory. So what I am trying to say is that I have never slapped anyone’s face or slapped anyone ever. I hope that the person who wrote that post will have many happy things happen for them.
HyunA’s label, P Nation, also released an official statement denying the claims and reiterating HyunA’s story.
We are here to inform you that all the rumors and accusations going around the internet about HyunA are false. HyunA started working in the industry at eight years old and received much attention from people from a young age. […] From her childhood days to debut to even now, there have been many false rumors and accusations being spread, but because of the overwhelming love she received from fans, she felt that she had to carry the burden herself.
We would like to reiterate that HyunA has never committed violence or harmed anyone and that the allegations raised are not true. In the future, we will respond with firm actions against the spread of rumors that are far from the truth.
— P Nation