In the latest episode, MBC‘s True Story aired a collection of interviews with the alleged school bullying and sexual harassment victims of actor Ji Soo. These alleged victims, from both his elementary and middle school days, shared their painful experiences in detail — some including graphic memories of having been sexually harassed by Ji Soo. While the actor’s agency, KeyEast Entertainment, denied the allegations as being “distorted and exaggerated,” the True Story episode suggested otherwise.
The first schoolmate who accused Ji Soo of school bullying claimed he “decided to reveal everything when he smiled in front of the camera and gave [the victim] nightmares.”
I think it’s extremely ironic that Ji Soo is pursuing a career that requires the love and support from people… when he used to bully and harass them. It infuriates me. And it’s incredibly difficult for me to see him [on TV]. I’ve never been able to look at him straight in the face. I still remember the way he’d smile [while bullying]… but to see that smile on TV?
— The First Accuser, Schoolmate A
Schoolmate B, from Ji Soo’s homeroom class in middle school, recalled how he constantly had to pay Ji Soo. At first, it was by buying Ji Soo snacks. Eventually though, he had to begin supplying cash.
I was his ‘bread shuttle’ (빵셔틀, a person bullied for snacks and/or snack money). He would make me bring back snacks from the school market. And if I didn’t make it back within minutes, he beat me up. I had to pay for all his snacks out of pocket… He would call me on my cellphone and say things like, ‘Be sure to bring some money tomorrow.’ And at first, it started off with small amounts like ₩5,000 KRW (about $4.43 USD) or ₩10,000 KRW (about $8.85 USD)… but then it eventually became ₩50,000 KRW (about $44.30 USD) and ₩100,000 KRW (about $88.50 USD).
— Schoolmate B
As to how Ji Soo became so notorious, Schoolmate B claimed, “Ji Soo was really tall for his age… and he intimidated everyone in the homeroom class, as if he was the king.”
Ji Soo was extremely malicious in his ways. Eventually, I had to start taking his quizzes and tests for him. Ji Soo was a big guy. He was over 180cm (5’9″). He was really tall for his age and he intimidated everyone in his class, as if he was the king.
… and his group of bullies did not fear the teachers. I think that really made them unstoppable. They would keep picking on new targets. So in the end everyone kind of agreed, ‘There’s no point in reporting their bullying to the school because nothing will change.’
— Schoolmate B
Another alleged victim Schoolmate C revealed he was Ji Soo’s “clown” at school. After enduring the ceaseless bullying, he eventually stopped going to school because he couldn’t bear the harassment anymore.
He used to kick me in the butt and thighs. He also beat me on the head a lot. He slapped me and punched me in the chest often too… And he would give me ‘missions’ to complete during class time, like I would have to get up and sing or dance while the teacher isn’t looking. I was his personal clown.
He would always sit in the last row. I sat in front of him. He used me to cover himself up when he would sleep in class. When I slouched a little, he would slap the back of my head.
— Schoolmate C
Schoolmate C also recalled a time he ran into Ji Soo on the subway, years after the bullying. Though three years had passed, he remained “terrified” of Ji Soo because of the painful memories of bullying he had endured during middle school.
Around my senior year in high school, I actually ran into Ji Soo on the subway once. So at least three years passed since he bullied me. But I still got goosebumps all over my body… I stood there with my head down because I was terrified. Ji Soo came up to me and started talking to me. When I looked up, he smiled and asked, ‘Don’t you know me?’
— Schoolmate C
Other schoolmates, who didn’t get bullied by Ji Soo, remembered his “status” and how it changed during the three years of middle school. They claimed, “Ji Soo started off as a class bully… but by the second year, he was ‘scouted’ by the school’s most notorious bullies.”
You wouldn’t believe how structural the bullies were. Ji Soo belonged to the highest tier, the strongest bullies. And they had ‘minions,’ or second tier bullies, who would do the actual dirty work… They ran the school. So if you did anything to go against those groups, you would become an ostracized outcast or you would be physically bullied.
— Schoolmates D and E
Lastly, Ji Soo’s schoolmates from elementary school — Schoolmate F and G — surfaced, verifying via the program’s interview that there was, indeed, sexually harassment involved in Ji Soo’s list of school violence.
Schoolmate F, though not a direct victim, claimed he witnessed Ji Soo having sexually harassed male students while on a school camping trip.
On the trip, the male students were assigned the same dorm room. And there, Ji Soo sexually harassed some of the boys in the room. He (censored, sexual behavior) and (censored, sexual behavior). Everyone assigned to Ji Soo’s room witnessed this. But… we couldn’t stop him because we got scared we would become targets too.
— Schoolmate F
Schoolmate G, female and alleged victim, revealed that Ji Soo sexually harassed her by talking about doing sexual things with her after “placing a plastic bag over [her] head” and even portraying sexual behavior in his seat next to hers during class.
At first, it wasn’t as serious and mostly verbal. But as time passed and we spent more time together (in the same classroom), he became more explicit in his ways. He put a plastic bag over my head. And he said something like, ‘We can have (censored, assumed to be “sex”) at night with the lights off.’ He literally put a plastic bag over my head. I also saw him (censored, assumed to be “masturbating”) in his seat next to me during class time.
— Schoolmate G
When MBC’s True Story team reached out to Ji Soo about the interviews done by his schoolmates, the actor sent a written statement instead — denying all the allegations made in the episode.
It is true that when I was in school, I hung out with bully friends. I was foolish and thought I had a lot of power in my hands. But I did not make anyone an outcast, force anyone to buy me things or bring me money, ask anyone to take my quizzes and tests, or harass anyone sexually. None of that is true. If they would let me, I would like to apologize to everyone whom I’ve hurt.
— Ji Soo
Actor Ji Soo is currently awaiting his enlistment, set to be in October 2021.