Some Kpop idols had to leave their groups after school violence allegations, while some were protected by their companies to the end.
School bullying is a serious issue in many countries, yet especially in Korea since the perpetrators are often revealed to be Kpop idols, who are supposed to be role models. However, while all of these famous Kpop idols got into trouble over school bullying controversies, not all have their career ruined. Below are several notable accusations, and their vastly different outcomes:
LE SSERAFIM Kim Garam – protected by the company till the end
LE SSERAFIM Kim Garam has been making headlines for the past weeks, not only because she debuted under BTS’s label HYBE, but also because of her controversies. In particular, certain photos and conversations of the female idol in the past were being spreaded around, leaving netizens shocked with alleged vulgar words and possibility of school violence.
In the face of heavy accusations, HYBE continuously defended Kim Garam, enraging the public in the process. Eventually on May 20th, LE SSERAFIM had to cancel their Music Bank performance, as well as their online fansign to tackle Garam’s controversy.
Finally, at 2 pm (local time), HYBE Labels, alongside LE SSERAFIM’s agency Source Music, officially announced that LE SSERAFIM would start promoting without Kim Garam. They, however, maintained that the hiatus is temporary, and that Kim Garam was a victim, not a perpetrator of school violence.
(G)-IDLE Soojin – forced to leave her group
Early 2021, (G)-IDLE Soojin was embroiled in school bullying allegations. The sister of the alleged victim publicly criticized Soojin via various posts, saying: “Soojin often called my sister and her friends into the restroom, then asked them to slap each other on the face. She also formed group chats just to call my sister the odd one out. And yet she went on TV acting like she’s a shy and reserved girl. My sister suffered every time (G)-IDLE’s songs were broadcasted.”
When the scandal went viral, Soojin wrote a letter where she admitted to having smoked and messed around during her school days, but vehemently denied having committed school violence. Her agency, Cube, was initially on her side, but still halted all Soojin’s activities. Eventually, in August 2021, the entertainment company announced Soojin’s official departure from (G)-IDLE.
SEVENTEEN Mingyu: Accused of bullying disabled classmate and sexual harrassment, apologized and still active
Late February 2021, the SEVENTEEN member Mingyu was accused of being a notorious student, hanging out with bad friends, and bullying a disabled classmate. At first, his agency Pledis Entertainment denied all accusations, only to be followed by other users pointing fingers at Mingyu for other wrong behaviors, including sexual harassment.
In the end, while the mother of his disabled classmate clarified that Mingyu never bullied her child, the male idol still admitted to having joked around with his friends and might have been unintentionally hurting people with his words. He also apologized for his past behavior, and promised to reflect on himself and become a better person that is worthy of love and trust from fans.
Stray Kids Hyunjin: Accused of mocking a classmate, had to write an apology letter
Hwang Hyunjin from the JYP boy group Stray Kids was accused of mocking his friend from middle school after learning that said friend was an actor under a small company. According to the accuser, Hyunjin also used foul words in a group chat, and even got violent a couple of times. 4 days after the first post against Hyunjin, JYP Entertainment claimed that they had instigated the case, listened to alleged victims, while Hyunjin directly apologized to them. Some classmates and a teacher also spoke in favor of the idol.
Hyunjin himself also posted a handwritten letter where he apologized to all those who felt hurt by his words and behaviors at school, at the same time expressed regrets and shame over his past actions. However, while netizens demanded for Hyunjin to leave Stray Kids, the idol only went on a 4-month hiatus before returning as normal in June 2021.
ITZY Lia: JYP denied all bullying allegations
On February 24th, 2021, an Internet user claimed to have been bullied by “a female idol who was born in 2000” and had “straight shoulders”.
According to this netizen, this female idol would often borrow money without returning, form group chats to speak badly of people, and isolate people she finds annoying. From the clues given, many have deducted the idol in question to be ITZY Lia.
In response to all these speculations, JYP refuted all claims. The company also sued an account that spread wrong rumors about Lia for defamation and misinformation, and expressed that it will continue to clear up the false accusations.
Lia is completely innocent of all malicious claims, the company affirmed, and threatened to take legal actions against those that spread otherwise. In the end, Lia proceeded with her activities as normal, but her reputation took quite a heavy blow.
April Naeun: companies denied all claims of Naeun saying foul words to friends
The idol-actress Naeun from Kpop group April was also accused of verbally harassing her friend. According to the alleged victim, she, Naeun, and another used to be close friends. However, Naeun later turned on them, and would often say foul words about her face and body. Against this accusation, April’s agency DSP Media denied all claims, and also threatened to sue whoever spread false information.
I.O.I Sohye: revealed to be a victim by the police
I.O.I Sohye made quite the controversial appearance on the survival show “Produce 101”, and was heavily criticized for being talentless when she debuted with I.O.I. In February 2021, the idol-actress was once again under fire after an anonymous netizen accused Sohye of having used violence against school mates. Immediately, Sohye’s agency S&P Entertainment spoke up in support of their artist, and threatened to take legal actions against baseless information. Eventually on July 27th, the company once again affirmed that all previous allegations were false, and revealed the real identity of the accuser.
In particular, the anonymous netizen in question was a former schoolmate of Sohye who started her claims out of jealousy. Additionally, S&P Entertainment revealed that she actually bullied Sohye in middle school.
They also quoted the police’s report, which recorded the accuser’s handwritten apology where she admitted that her claims were false and asked for leniency. Sohye also met her directly to clear up misunderstandings, and now the idol-actress’s name has finally been cleared after months of criticism.