South Korean entertainment company Hybe has officially released a new detailed statement regarding the school violence allegations against Le Sserafim member Kim Garam and her hiatus amid the controversy.
Prior to Le Sserafim’s debut, anonymous online allegations were made against Kim in April claiming she was part of a bullying group in school that engaged in illegal activities such as smoking and extortion of her classmates. More accusations soon followed not too long after claiming Kim and her friends threatened to harm the accuser. More allegations from others added that there are photos of Kim making lewd hand gestures and posing in front of a blackboard with pornographic content drawn on it. Other photos show a blackboard saying “Le Sserafim will beat IVE, IVE down, Le Sserafim up.”
An alleged victim that is suing Hybe came forward to detail the trauma she experienced from Kim, mentioning the bullying was so bad that it led to anxiety, panic attacks and a suicide attempt.
Hybe released a joint statement with Le Sserafim’s label Source Music to address the recent allegations against Kim, 16, on Friday.
The statement was published on Thursday in response to the victim’s statement through her law firm Daeryun, saying that the “Notice of School Violence Committee Results” post that circulated on social media was “true.”
In the statement, which was originally published in Korean and translated by media outlets and fans to English, Hybe explained that they “initially refrained from clarifying the details of the facts confirmed through the members themselves and many third-party statements out of concern that the identities and sensitive personal information of minors, including those of their peers involved in the incident, would be revealed.”
“However, exaggerated rumors that Kim Garam was a one-sided perpetrator of school violence who was habitually involved in physical violence have been continuously spreading on social media and online communities, and only one-sided information was being released, so we would like to correct the accusations,” Hybe continued.
According to the statement, from March to April 2018, Kim was friends with the victim, whose alias is Yoo Eun Seo. Kim and Yoo Eun Seo were in their first year of middle school at the time, and during a retreat, Kim allegedly bad-mouthed Yoo Eun Seo and got into an argument with her. They eventually apologized to each other after the incident. However, Kim later cut ties with Yoo Eun Soo after she received threats of physical violence from the latter and her close male friends.
Yoo Eun Seo eventually “took a photo of [Kim’s close friend], who was changing at school and only wearing underwear at the time, without permission and posted it publicly on social media under another friend’s name,” the statement said. “Kim Garam and her friends, who got angry about this incident, confronted Yoo Eun Seo, but there was no physical violence. Yoo Eun Seo admitted her wrongdoings but wasn’t punished for her actions. Rather, she pointed out the classmates who had confronted her as perpetrators, referred them to the school violence committee, and then transferred to another school. As a result, Kim Garam and her friend were punished by the school violence committee.”
The statement also noted that Yoo Eun Seo transferred to a new school after learning of a “discussion of a ‘forced transfer’ at the request of Kim’s close friend whose photos were taken without consent.
Hybe claimed that people directly uninvolved in the incident are “aware of the key points of the school violence committee meeting that was held in June 2018.”
“Besides the distinction of the student perpetrator and student victim as indicated on the surface by the school violence committee, there are several students who recognized Yoo Eun Seo’s actions of requesting a school violence committee and claiming herself as victim despite her great wrongdoing as being problematic,” the entertainment company claimed, adding, “There are many third parties who can testify about this.”
In the statement, Hybe declared that Kim was affected by “ridiculous” and “malicious” rumors while she was in middle school, including that “She hit a friend’s head with a flowerpot,” “She cracked a classmate’s head with a brick,” “She even went to school in a police car, and she participated in group fights or physically assaulted other students” and “She drank and smoked.”
“The matter that has currently become an issue with Kim Garam involves many minors, so we tried to resolve the issue without revealing the details of the truth to the public,” Hybe explained.
“However, at the time of her debut, the situation became one in which we had no choice but to take action as groundless false information regarding Kim Garam spread extensively and the contents related to the school violence committee meeting with one-sided claims were also disclosed through a law firm, so we feel regretful for having to explain the sensitive issues regarding her fellow peers.”
The entertainment company also apologized for Kim’s “wrongful speech and behavior in the past,” saying, “Although it was a verbal dispute that occurred while standing up for a friend who was harmed, she has also personally acknowledged her faults and is deeply reflecting on that point that she used curse words and behaved in a way in which the other felt threatened.”
Hybe, noting that Kim had suffered “psychological hardship” due to the widespread rumors following her debut with Le Sserafim, announced that the Korean singer will be taking a break from the group so that she can “focus on healing her wounded heart.”
“Le Sserafim will temporarily promote as five members until Kim Garam returns after recovering,” the company continued.
(Statement 5 – Google Drive. Screenshot via Soompi)
The statement released by Daeryun on Thursday says that Yoo Eun Seo solely wants an apology from Kim or Hybe.
“All we ask for is an apology and an accurate statement to be released,” the law firm said. “However, Hybe did not respond to any of our requests and Kim debuted as a girl group member while the victim is suffering psychologically.”
The law firm also said Yoo Eun Seo attempted suicide “due to extreme anxiety and fear” after being attacked online by Le Sserafim’s fans.
“She had to stop going to school and is seeing a psychiatrist. Her mother has to keep an eye on her daughter twenty-four-seven so that she does not attempt suicide once again,” Daeryun said. “That is why we will disclose all the official school documents and all the text messages sent by Kim that include abusive language if Hybe continues to maintain its stance that Kim is the victim.”
A picture of the School Violence Measures Committee Result Notification has circulated online, indicating that the perpetrator was Kim, a first-grade, Class 3 student. The image also shows that the victim was from the same class.
Besides the joint statement, Source Music also announced that it will cancel the all-girl group’s activities scheduled for Friday, including the group’s appearance on KBS 2TV’s “Music Bank.”
“We ask for the understanding of those who had been selected to attend the pre-recording for ‘Music Bank,’” Source Music said. “Also, we plan to hold the video call fan signing event at a separate time, and we will provide the fans who were selected for the event with additional information soon.”
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