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Friday, December 1, 2023

I wasn’t a bully: Kim Hieora refutes local media allegations

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Kim Hieora during the VIP screening of the movie "Smmugglers" at Gangnam District, southern Seoul, in July
Kim Hieora during the VIP screening of the movie “Smmugglers” at Gangnam District, southern Seoul, in July

Kim Hieora said she was wrongly characterized in a recent article in local entertainment news outlet Dispatch that accused her of school bullying, verbal and physical abuse and theft.

“I did not persistently, with ill intentions and deliberate planning, bully the weak, like the article said,” she wrote on social media Wednesday evening.

Dispatch on the same day had reported that 15-year-old Kim stole from classmates and committed verbal and physical violence, quoting interviews with those who say they were victims. The same piece also ran Kim’s response where she admits to being a bystander but never the physical offender.

Kim on her social media post confirmed that she spoke to Dispatch, “hoping that her sincerity would show if I spoke the truth.”

Kim Hieora played a school bully in the hit Netflix series "The Glory" (2022) [NETFLIX]
Kim Hieora played a school bully in the hit Netflix series “The Glory” (2022) [NETFLIX]

“Even in my 30s, I still don’t think I am perfect, so I listened to the reporter’s story and tried to remember the events related to it, thinking that my memories from when I was 15, when I was immature and imperfect, might not be everything,” she said, “but nevertheless, no matter how much I thought about [my past], I couldn’t agree with the accusations that were being made based just on the fact that I was registered in Bigsangji’s Naver cafe [online community].”

Bigsangji was the name of her friend group in middle school in Wonju, Gangwon, “notorious in the area for delinquent behavior” according to Dispatch.

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“Regardless, if there were people who were hurt because of me, I wanted to apologize and resolve any misunderstandings,” Kim continued. “The [Dispatch] reporter gave me the number of the informant. We talked and the informant said that she had some misunderstandings about me and apologized. I told this to the reporter and relayed that the allegations against me were false.”

“Twenty years have passed since I was 15, and I have been repenting my wrongdoings since then and trying not to make those same mistakes again,” she said. “I am far from perfect but, at the very least, I have never maliciously caused harm to another person.

She concluded the statement by once again apologizing to those whom she might have “unknowingly hurt.”

The post has since been deleted, however, and replaced with a simple apology.

Her agency’s statement still stands with Kim. Gram Entertainment on Wednesday called the article “speculative.”

“All the allegations made in the [Dispatch] article are false,” it said on Wednesday. “Kim never took an active part in any of Bigsangji’s activities. She has never admitted it and has never participated in school bullying.”

“We ask everyone to refrain from spreading and reproducing reckless speculations and false facts, and our company will take strong legal action against malicious acts that defame our actors.”

Dispatch on Thursday released Kim’s hand-written letter to its reporter in an effort to prove the validity of its article.

“Our previous article does not go beyond Kim Hieora’s letter,” it said.

Kim in the letter says she was “surprised” when she met with Disptatch’s informant who described her as “the head” of Bigsangji. She also admits that she was a difficult child growing up and made bad friends but denies actively taking part in bullying.

“This has been an opportunity for me to reflect on my negative past, and I am repenting the days that I spent silent,” she writes.

“I am not saying that I was kind in the past. I recognize my actions when I was an immature minor. But I truly want to say that I have never. without reason, caused harm to anyone.”

Debuting as a musical theater actor in 2009, she has starred as the lead in over a dozen shows and recently made her mark on the small screen through a supporting role in the Netflix show “The Glory” (2022). She is currently starring as the lead in the musical “Frida” and recently appeared in season two of the Korean drama “The Uncanny Counter,” which aired its final episode on Sunday.

Kim Hieora performs during the musical "Frida" at Gangnam District, southern Seoul, on Aug. 10. [YONHAP]
Kim Hieora performs during the musical “Frida” at Gangnam District, southern Seoul, on Aug. 10. [YONHAP]

BY LEE JIAN [lee.jian@joongang.co.kr]