The bullying scandal involving LE SSERAFIM member Kim Garam continues on following an alleged victim coming forward and then Source Music releasing a detailed statement saying she will go on hiatus but that she was the victim of bullying.
Now, the Ministry Of Education has confirmed the authenticity of the school violence committee’s ruling against Kim Garam.
An official from the Ministry of Education said, “In the case of school violence, the intensity of the measures taken by each school is also different because of the strong autonomous nature and the different tendencies of the participating experts [in these committees].” “However, it seems to be true that there was school violence, as Kim Garam was named as an assailant student.”
Meanwhile, lawyers were confused about her receiving a Degree 5 punishment and not appealing it, as that is usually a serious charge to have on one’s record.
Even lawyers who have dealt with many school violence cases are puzzled, saying, “In general, it is extremely rare to issue a 5th level disposition in the absence of physical violence.”
However, some expressed skepticism about HYBE’s statement due to the fact that Kim Garam received Degree 5 disciplinary action from the school violence committee, meaning that both she and her parents were required to undergo a special educational course on violence. In South Korea, school violence committees are typically only called for serious cases of bullying and violence (as opposed to verbal arguments between students), and when disciplinary action is taken, there are nine degrees of punishment with varying levels of severity: Degree 1 (the lightest) is ordering the perpetrator to make an apology, while Degree 9 (the harshest) is expulsion. Starting from Degree 5, the perpetrator’s parents are also required to complete an educational course on violence. According to the Ministry of Education, Degree 5 is “a measure taken when it seems unlikely that measures such as community service will be enough to make the student perpetrator feel remorse for their actions on their own, in order to reform their mindset on violence and make them reflect on their actions through the help of a professional.” As most of the disciplinary action taken in school violence cases—even ones that involve physical assault—usually falls somewhere between Degrees 1 and 3, it is uncommon for Degree 5 disciplinary action to be taken in a case where there was no physical assault. Therefore, many expressed confusion over how Kim Garam’s case could have warranted Degree 5 punishment without any physical violence.
This whole thing has been going surprisingly mainstream due to the degree of her punishment.
HYBE Labels responded by saying there was no physical violence, and that the degree of punishment handed out was because cases are handled differently by region, also saying that her mother regrets not appealing.
On May 21, HYBE officially responded to the questions about their previous statement by reiterating, “Degree 5 disciplinary action was taken even though there was absolutely no physical violence.” HYBE went on, “As far as we are aware, school violence committees are held differently depending on the matter, the school, the district, and the members, as they are not courts of law.” “At the time, Kim Garam’s mother believed that the school had made the decision that would help her daughter the most, so she did not appeal the decision,” they continued. “Now, Kim Garam’s mother is deeply regretting that she did not contest the degree of the school violence committee’s disciplinary action and simply accepted it. But at the time, she thought that was the best way to educate her daughter.”
Still think seeing that report would probably help settle a lot, but understandably it’s going to be an uphill battle for HYBE/Source when the primary fact we have at the moment that both sides agree on is that Kim Garam was named as a perpetrator in a school violence case and received a rather significant degree of punishment for it.