School bullying claims roil showbiz

2023. 3. 15. 15:34
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Song Hye-kyo plays Dong-eun, a revenge-driven woman who survived horrific abuse in high school in "The Glory" (Netflix)

Though celebrities who have been accused of school bullying do not have to face deadly consequences as presented in Netflix’s revenge-soaked hit series, “The Glory,” their past deeds are nonetheless considered unforgivable.

Former K-pop boy band BLACK6IX member Kim Hyun-jae withdrew from JTBC’s latest audition project, “Peak Time,” which features already-debuted artists who have fallen short of building a successful career and gives them a second chance to become a top K-pop idol.

Local broadcaster JTBC announced on Monday that Kim will withdraw from the show as the alleged bullying case involving him is unlikely to be resolved soon, the artist and the alleged victim’s claims being poles apart.

Kim denied all the bullying allegations against him and said he would take legal action against those spreading false information and defaming him.

Trot singer Hwang Young-woong, who starred in cable channel MBN’s music competition, “Glowing Trotmen,” stepped down from the show before the final round as bullying and violence allegations against him escalated.

The 28-year-old singer wrote an online post apologizing for his past deeds and sincerely asking for forgiveness on his Instagram account on March 3.

Dominating viewer votes, Hwang was considered the possible winner before the controversy erupted in late February.

Kim Da-young, a stunt actor and a contestant on Netflix’s reality competition series, “Physical 100,” was accused of physically assaulting her ex-schoolmate and extorting cash from them.

Apologizing to the production staff of “Physical 100,” its viewers and those who were hurt, Kim admitted that she had been a bully 14 years ago. But she denied the claims of robbery and violence.

“With TV dramas like 'The Glory' -- which depict physical altercations in schools in a more serious tone -- getting huge attention, such projects are certainly bolstering public awareness that school violence and bullying are inexcusable,” culture critic Kong Hee-jung said.

“Celebrities, aspiring actors and singers are likely to feel intimidated by the recent incidents, reflecting on their past, as the revelations of school violence by TV stars can critically damage their careers,” Kong added.

While many believe online revelations of school violence seem to be the victims' revenge against the offenders, Kwak Geum-ju, a psychology professor at Seoul National University, believes the bullying allegations hold a bigger meaning.

“The victims, in most cases, were unaware of the seriousness of their situation with regards to past school bullying. Many people who suffer from such tragedies even feel that the reasons for school violence lie with them. After watching documentary series and TV dramas, they realize how cruel and brutal their past experiences were,” Kwak told The Korea Herald Wednesday.

“Making known such painful, unknown secrets has become a cure for the victims in many cases. They gain great strength after realizing that more people than expected support them and empathize with their stories," the professor explained.

“The Glory” revolves around Moon Dong-eun (played by Song Hye-kyo), a victim of school violence who seeks to realize her revenge against past bullies after 17 years.

"The Glory" (Netflix)

The series, the second part of which was released March 10, topped Netflix’s weekly viewership chart for non-English TV shows as of Wednesday, according to the global streamer.

While the eight-part revenge thriller became the most watched series in 23 countries -- including South Korea, Brazil, Hong Kong, New Zealand and more -- and recorded a total of 124.46 million hours of viewing for the week of March 6-12, the series’ director, Ahn Gil-ho, was accused of school bullying on March 10. Ahn later admitted to school bullying and apologized to the victims in a statement made by his attorney on March 12.

By Lee Si-jin(

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