Oh boy, what an absolute mess this is on the Internet in Korea. I’ll try to do it justice as some wanted an explainer of sort on everything flying about, so here’s a rundown of the situation facing LE SSERAFIM‘s Kim Garam and the allegations she’s been hit with.
On April 5, Source Music revealed Kim Garam as the new member.
Initially, this was largely met with praise for her look and what not.
But not long after, allegations against Garam began to arrive. As far as I have found, there were five allegations that I would put into a more serious category because they impacted other people (1/2/3).
- A netizen claiming to have went to the same middle school alleged that through Facebook she would harass juniors who didn’t greet her properly, that she drank and smoked, that she was known for bullying at other schools, and that she extorted money from people.
- A netizen claiming to be her middle school classmate alleged that ‘light bullying was a given’, saying that she would swear at people as they passed by her.
- An online post showed an alleged conversation of her threating a classmate who didn’t answer her phone.
Kim Garam: “Hey! If you refuse I’m going to kill you ㅋㅋ”
Junior C: “No”
Kim Garam: “Do it fucking bitch”
Junior C: “Don’t call me again, please”
Kim Garam: “Why aren’t you picking up?”
Junior C: “I was too annoyed. Sorry ㅋㅋ”
Kim Garam: “Just wait until I catch you bitch … you’ll really get it”
- An allegation was made that because of her actions, a fellow student collapsed at school and went to the emergency room.
- A Twitter post alleges that they went to the same school and she was a school violence assailant, expressing shock that she had the gall to debut despite her past.
Then there were also what I would deem circumstantial evidence posts, where it’s not directly related to the worse allegations in themselves, but are intended to be a reflection of her character and prove that she was the iljin type of student.
- A netizen posted a photo allegedly showing Garam and friends posing in front of a blackboard with sexual images and writing.
- An alleged Facebook post was revealed with pictures of Garam, the second photo captioned with “How was sex today?” A reply said to her “I’ll be your fuck buddy” and she responded “a-ing DM me“.
- There was an alleged Facebook post by her denying smoking as a misunderstanding after a picture of her got out.
Posts did emerge to defend Kim Garam, with one saying that she was a classmate and explaining the blackboard picture.
“There were two friends and another guy who were laughing and drew a picture on the blackboard and Garam was one of the girls who later came in and they asked the boys to take a picture with them. After Garam saw the blackboard and realized what was on it, she told them to erase the the drawing and fought with the person who had the cellphone (who took the picture). Rather, Kim Garam was the one who got mad and I felt like Garam and her friend were the victims.”
She also goes on to give testimony that Garam helped her during her time in school. There were a total of three clarification posts. More on this later.
As the allegations spread, Source quickly provided a strong response, claiming that Garam was the one who was bullied, the evidence against her was maliciously edited, and they would be taking legal action.
“Since yesterday, there have been accusations made against her on various websites, and we have conducted an internal verification process. The results are as follows:
-The recent allegations were cunningly edited to maliciously slander Kim Garam over the events that occurred during the time when she was making friends in the early stages of middle school.
-Contrary to the claims, it was confirmed through a third-party statement that Kim Garam was a victim of school bullying, including malicious rumors and cyberbullying, when she was in middle school.
-In addition, it was confirmed that the rumors, such as that Kim Garam was a trainee at another agency or that she leaked internal documents, are not true.
We believe that the allegations are maliciously intended to harm the artist who is about to debut, and we inform you that Source Music has taken legal action against the spread of unilateral and distorted allegations and false information related to this case.”
Oddly, I had not seen that allegation that she leaked internal documents while at another agency before, but I guess we can add that to the list.
- A post by a netizen who claimed to be her schoolmate alleged Garam and her friends screamed even at kids who weren’t even the alleged victims, saying they’ll beat up those who made posts about Garam when they find out who it was.
- On Twitter, a quote tweet of Source’s statement said Garam’s friends were on Facebook talking about how they will make the victims into perpetrators and said the victims were crying and even collapsing when they heard the company would sue them. Responding to that tweet, another netizen confirmed the reaction and that it was due to the company response.
- On Twitter, a quote tweet of Source’s statement said Garam’s alleged victims collapsed and some were even rushed to the emergency room, saying the company response is revictimization.
- A netizen who claimed to have went to the same middle school as Garam alleged in a long post that she was famous for wrongdoings, saying that she was bullied for a year by Garam and friends. She explains that she doesn’t know about the smoking or drinking, but if there was anybody Garam didn’t like she would torment them. She confirmed the swearing and sexual jokes. Says Garam and friends are deleting comments and the Garam defenses are being orchestrated by her clique.
- A post provided evidence from a Facebook convo with Garam’s friends and an alleged victim, showing them tormenting those who are suspected of being informants and getting them to say nice things about Garam.
Kim Garam’s Facebook profile that shows she has 1,127 friends, including Son Kyung Seo.
Son Kyung Seo: “Wait, there’s A [Alleged Victim] too…”
Choi Jooyeon: “Daebak…ㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋ”
Son Kyung Seo: “How many hours has it been since the controversy was released?”
Son Kyung Seo: “Haven’t slept yet…”
A: “Hold on…”
Son Kyung Seo: “A go ahead … say something”
A: “Garam-ah, I support you”
- A tweet alleged that Garam transferred from Gwangju to Seoul because of a dirty past at the previous school and she was trying to apologize for her actions before all this broke in order to do damage control. A quote tweet of this alleges that she hit a classmate on the head with a brick, leading to the transfer. A comment clarified that she didn’t hit anybody with a brick, but pushed them into a brick wall.
- A post by a netizen alleges she’d skip school to drink with other middle schoolers, high schoolers, and college kids. It alleges she was once brought to school in a police car, often got in fights and threatened to use older friends to beat somebody up. They also allege she got into a gang fight at some point and threw a flower pot at a student, who had to be rushed to the hospital, and threatened the student to keep them quiet about the incident. Also mentions that she smoked in middle school.
- A post by a netizen confirmed the flower pot story, saying she split open a classmate’s head with a stone flower pot. Says the claims that she was a narcissist who drank and was obsessed with sex are true. Explains that she was not a victim, but her friend was a victim, and Garam was summoned by the school violence committee at one point.
Similar to before, further circumstantial evidence emerged.
- An alleged picture of Garam making a gesture referring to sex emerged.
- A picture of Garam was posted that she allegedly captioned with “disabled“.
- A post alleged that Garam and her friends were putting down IVE and were boasting in school that Garam was debuting with HYBE. The posts included photos of writing on the blackboard saying “IVE down, LE SSERAFIM up“, and were dated from before the group was revealed. Other posts were made at the time claiming Garam was telling people she’ll fuck BTS‘s V, that she hates Wonyoung, and that Miyawaki Sakura is a plastic monster.
Finally, revisiting the aforementioned clarification posts about Garam that emerged, netizens believe it was all done by the same person, as the proof pictures all have the same camera lens dot and the desk in the back is the same. They even note the unique way the ‘2’ is written is the same.
That is the best compilation of this saga that I could do to date.
Needless to say this is a mess. Given the pictures that do exist, it’s gonna be hard for her to shake this scandal because at the very least the evidence suggests to Korean netizens that she’s an iljin and that lends a lot of credibility to the claims in their eyes. Also, the sheer number of claims is rather overwhelming.
So all of this is either close to the truth of Garam’s personality or HYBE knows something we haven’t seen yet and this is a really elaborate conspiracy against her. Given the severity of some of the allegations, there should be things that are falsifiable and those could be revealed with time. For neutrals, there’s not much reason to rush to judgment either way at this point.
Should be interesting to see how HYBE/Source proceed given that Garam doesn’t seem all that essential to the group, and the response to everybody else seems to be positive so far.