South Korean actress Kim Hieora’s agency has announced that they will take strong legal measures against a media outlet, which reported bullying allegations against The Glory star last week.
On September 11, the actress’ agency, Gram Entertainment, released a statement announcing their plan to take legal action, calling the claims one-sided and damaging to their artist’s reputation.
“Hello, this is Gram Entertainment. We apologise for causing concern to many people due to the controversy related to our actress Kim Hieora. We would like to apologise to the many people who have been disappointed and harmed by this incident.
“Today, we express our regret regarding a media outlet that covered the informant’s one-sided claims about Kim Hieora as if they were proven facts, and we decided to take legal action as we cannot condone the current situation which is damaging the reputation of the agency’s actress and causing suffering to unrelated individuals.
“We disclose the acts committed by the media outlet in the course of reporting as follows, and we intend to take strong legal action against groundless claims and those who unilaterally claim such in the future.”
Standing by Hieora, her agency said they will do their best to protect their artist.
“Once again, we express our intent to take strong legal action for malicious acts against our actress, and we will do our best to protect our artist.”
On September 6, a media report accused Kim Hieora of bullying while she was studying in school.
The South Korean media outlet called Dispatch released a lengthy report regarding accusations of Hieora being a member of what was allegedly an iljin (school bullying) group called Big Sangji at Sangji Girls’ Middle School.
The Big Sangji were accused of bullying and extortion, and the group was reportedly violent and verbally abusive to younger students.
A former student claimed that disobedience to senior members of the group led to bullying.
On September 6, the actress posted an Instagram message, apologising to her supporters and denying the bullying accusations or harming anyone.
In the report, some students had accused the actress of pressuring them to buy cigarettes and contributing money for karaoke outings, but she denied any part in it and stated that she never took money even from friends.
Her agency also firmly denied Kim Hieora’s participation in iljin-related activities and school violence. They stated that while it was true that Kim Hieora was part of the Sangji group, it was an open online forum rather than a group of bullies. The agency further stated that Hieora had never admitted nor participated in such acts.
A former classmate from middle school stepped forward to support Hieora, affirming that the actress never engaged in bullying. The friend even shared private chats between her and Kim Hieora to show how supportive and friendly the actress is.
On September 9, Dispatch published a new three-part report about the actress including a call transcript of a phone call between her and an alleged victim. The alleged victim accused Kim Hieora of hitting her and her friends. This new report published included allegations of physical assault against the actress.
As per the new report, Kim Hieora had reached out to at least eight people after knowing that someone had shared evidence of alleged school violence against her. The actress was able to meet seven out of eight people in person and apologise in person but she was unable to convince the eighth person.
It was also reported that three more informants came forward to share their own stories with the South Korean media outlet.
Following the report, Kim Hieora's agency, Gram entertainment, expressed their shock upon listening to the heavily edited phone conversation between the actress and the individual claiming to be a victim.
The agency said that the exposé only included a partial phone call and pledged to share the complete call details soon, aiming to provide the public with a comprehensive understanding of the situation.
On September 10, the agency released a full version of the call transcript. Reportedly, the two transcripts differ from each other in some parts – some details can only be found in one of the transcripts and not in another.
In the September 11 announcement, Gram Entertainment outlined several instances where they believed the media outlet had acted unethically in their reporting.
In their statement, they mentioned that the media outlet had previously tried to coerce their artist into admitting to bullying: “On May 17, the media outlet cajoled and coerced Kim Hieora, who visited the media outlet alone without being accompanied by someone from the agency to explain the accusations, by saying, ‘If you admit it, we will adjust the level of the article’s severity. Then… you will be able to return [to the screen]’.”
One of the points highlighted by the agency was: “The media outlet claimed that their coverage had already been completed in May and that they had delayed publishing the article out of consideration for Kim Hieora, whose drama was about to premiere. However, although the initial informants and Kim Hieora cleared up their misunderstandings and relayed this information to the media outlet, they reported the suspicions anyway…. In this process, what we belatedly found out is that after the media outlet informed our agency of the situation that the report [about Kim Hieora] was received, the outlet secretly met with the informants and collected evidence for reporting prior to arranging a meeting [with our agency]. When the informants recognised that there was a misunderstanding and tried to change their minds, the media outlet clearly mentioned to them, ‘In that case, the report cannot be published’. Even afterwards, the outlet deceived us with lies and deceitful acts such as implying that there were no calls from the informants or that they had not met them.”
The statement added: “The rights of many individuals are being violated due to the recent allegations against Kim Hieora. Due to the fallacy of hasty generalisation that even a small fight means bullying and school violence and the [strict] standards held for celebrities, even irrelevant people are becoming victims of being suspected of bullying just because they were members of a [school] community. We sincerely hope that there will be no more victims due to indiscriminate reports. We will discern the truth of this incident legally until the end, and we will reveal everything including what is right and wrong in what the media calls evidence and misunderstandings with the informants at court. We apologise once again for causing concern to many people due to this unpleasant incident.”