Ji-soo pens apology letter in response to school bullying allegations, will step down from River Where the Moon Rises
If you’ve been paying attention to Korean entertainment news in the last few weeks, you probably noticed that school bullying accusations have been leveled against a large number of public figures. Most recently, actor Ji-soo (River Where the Moon Rises) had some very serious, disturbing allegations brought against him recently.
On March 2, an anonymous poster wrote on Nate’s forum that he had been bullied by Ji-soo while they were both students at Sorabol Middle School in Seoul. Additional victims came forward and the media picked up the story fairly quickly. The allegations were pretty horrific, even more so considering that middle schoolers in Korea are between 12 and 15 years old (the American equivalent is 7th to 9th grade). His actions spanned a wide range of awfulness, and the initial information centered on verbal and physical abuse. On March 3, more details became public; Ji-soo had filmed himself having sex with a female student and shared the videos with friends, and had forced male students to do sexual acts.
Shortly after the sexual assault allegations became public, Ji-soo’s agency KeyEast released a statement that they would look into the accusations. On March 4, Ji-soo uploaded a handwritten apology letter to his personal Instagram account. While he doesn’t address the accusations individually, the apology is unequivocal and he denies nothing.
Ji-soo’s apology letter:
I apologize sincerely to those who I have hurt. There is no excuse for my past behavior. What I did was unforgivable. When I started my career as an actor, I covered up my past and it seems I made it to this point while receiving the undeserved interest of the public. However, there was a part of me that always felt guilty about the past, but it was too late to ask for forgiveness and that regret always came to me in the form of great anxiety. My dark past constantly weighed on me. I ask forgiveness from those who’ve suffered over the years as they watched me become an actor. I will live the rest of my life deeply reflecting on my unforgivable past. I’m pained and so sorry for the great negative impact my personal wrongs have had on the the show and director, the actors, and all of the drama staff. I hope sincerely that the drama does not suffer any additional damage because of me. To everyone whom I’ve hurt, I kneel before you to ask sincerely for forgiveness.
It’s unclear now what will happen next in terms of Ji-soo’s career. Reports are coming out saying that KBS has made the decision to remove him from his current drama, River Where the Moon Rises and will cast another actor for the role of On Dal. Complicating things is the fact that the show was pre-produced and all production work was close to completion. There’s also a petition on KBS’s online message board to remove him from the show that’s at 5,500 signatures and counting. KBS’s internal operating procedure state that any petition that reaches 1,000 signatures must be responded to personally by a department head so more news should be available shortly.
I know that actors are not the images they create, but seeing just how big the chasm between the person and the image is…it’s pretty upsetting. Having followed Ji-soo since his Angry Mom days, it’s difficult for me to wrap my head around this and I can’t imagine how painful it must have been for his victims to see their bully on TV.
The most recent spate of news regarding possible celebrity school bullies started about a month ago with national volleyball players, twin sisters Lee Da-yeong and Lee Jae-yeong. Since then, more people have come out with their stories of school bullying and alleged perpetrators range from famous athletes, to idols and actors.
That’s not to say that bullying is only a recent problem or even a Korea-only problem, but it’s pretty pervasive. And sadly, news of extreme violence at school and student suicides seem to be more common now as well. It’s hard to say if school bullying is increasing or if the increased awareness is giving people more courage to speak out to speak out.
When the Ji-soo news broke it sent the hashtag #학투 (#SchoolBullyingToo) trending, which was inspired by the #MeToo movement and is being used by and for victims of school bullying. School bullying has been an issue in Korea for a very long time and I hope that there will be change coming soon.