Actress Kim Hieora’s label has responded to the school controversy and bullying accusations directed at their talent.
“The Glory” actress has been receiving backlash ever since her allegedly controversial past has been reported. Hieora was found to have been a part of a bullying circle called Big Sangji during her middle school years at Sangji Girls’ Middle School in Wonju, Gangwon Province. The group was known for bullying through extorting money, as well as physical and verbal abuse against other students. She admitted that she was part of the group but did not physically abuse the other students and that she was just a bystander. She then stated further that she was in fact hit by older students herself.
Hieora was then punished with community service for involvement in a school theft case, committed by “X” who was the actress’ close friend.
Last September 7 KST, media outlet “Dispatch” published a letter written by the actress dedicated to the reporter Kim So Jung who covered the story of Kim Hieora’s alleged school bullying allegations on September 6.
The letter reads:
“Dear reporter Kim So Jung..
The heat has crept up on us. On such sunny days, while you must be busy with work, you took time to meet with me and put so much effort into my story. I’m both grateful and apologetic.
I had a lot I wanted to say. But when I met ‘OO’ again after all these years, I realized that saying all those things might not matter after all. This may be a burden, but I would like to still share some of my thoughts with someone, and so I’m writing this letter to you.
I am fully aware that I went astray in my youth when I was immature, and I have lived at times being embarrassed about who I was, at times reprimanding myself for it, at times scrutinizing myself for forgetting. Ever since I was young, I was either at the center of attention, or the target of bullying and exclusion, because of my uncommon name and uncommon appearance. With those feelings of inferiority, I entered my second year of middle school, and against my will, issues arose over my older cousin. I was in a situation where I just could not stand still and tell people to leave me alone, and so I decided that being someone at the center of attention was better than being bullied or excluded.. It was an immature decision.
But the reason that I performed in theater, and eventually went on to work on drama productions, was because I believed in my heart that I was never someone who picked on the weak and the marginalized, I never harmed or bullied anyone repetitively for pleasure. In my heart, I thought that I could swear this, at least to myself.
When you are young and you lack the ability to make morally sound decisions, you receive discipline at school. It is a place where discipline is taught through lessons and in the classroom.
Back in those days, I made many mistakes. I was not a model student. The existence of this group that the others talked about, and my own existence itself, was cause for fear in those around me, and I learned that clearly today. I am regretting those facts. But as a student, I received guidance from good teachers, and in order to earn their trust, I vowed in the second semester of my third year [of middle school] that I would become a better person. That I would become someone others could trust. So from then on, I chose to be a better student and began searching for things I was good at in high school, and ever since I have lived diligently with the intention of being a good influence on others.
When I heard that the other classmates had sent in reports about me being the ‘leader’ of a certain feared group, many thoughts struck me at once. Even now, I am the type of person who prefers to act rather than speak, and so it seems that many people find that I have an intimidating aura at first encounter. Some may keep a respectful distance from me.
So when I heard that in my youth, many underclassmen found me an existence that instilled fear, I did not know how to react. I never imagined that was the case. I was never a perpetrator who led harmful pressuring or bullying. Even so, because I was a student who had spent some time wandering astray, my image became one of a fearsome leader to my younger classmates. I am reflecting on my past, on my complacency and silence. As an adult, my demeanor became my strength, which is why I was unimaginably shocked after hearing of this reputation from my youth.
Today, my past experiences have allowed me to become someone who tries her best to do good, offer help to those who are in need, offer advice to others who want to act, do work that I want to do, and find work that I need to do.
I do not mean to say that I was a good child in the past. I admit that there was a time when I was immature. But I want to say this, that I did not harm anyone without good reason.
In writing, this may all sound like excuses. But because you, the reporter, spent much time and effort in this story, I am aware that this cannot be covered up as if none of it ever happened. I cannot turn back time and erase my past, but I am sure that after my troubled youth, I worked hard to become a mature adult and also do what I love, acting and performing.
If you could just give me one chance, I want to show you a good side through a good production. Or if you don’t want to see me in any more productions, I will show you that I can change and grow, with time and effort.
Please help me. I will live always repaying my debts. Thank you for reading this long letter. I’m sorry that we could not meet for pleasant reasons. Please take care of your meals, and thank you for your valuable time.”
In earlier reports, the actress and the reporter met last May 17, 2023, after extensive coverage of Kim Hieora’s middle school days, including the interviews with approximately 10 former classmates at Sangji Girls’ Middle School.
Hieora was notified of the various reports and allegations that were sent to “Dispatch” and spent approximately 2 hours with reporter Kim, recalling her side of the story.
On September 9, Gram Entertainment responded to Dispatch’s phone call exposé between an alleged victim and Kim Hieora, which took place on September 8.
The official statement reads:
“We are taken aback by the edited records of the phone call. We will be releasing the parts that were not made public.”
The agency then released the ‘‘original’ phone conversation later that day, claiming that some parts of the previously released conversation were edited. According to them, the conversation between Kim Hieora and the victim was a very personal matter and not indicative of any repeated bullying or assault. The transcripts from Gram Entertainment and Dispatch differ in certain parts and also share some similarities.
On September 11, the actress’ agency released a lengthy statement regarding the issue and stated that they would take legal action against Dispatch for the “malicious acts” against the actress. They also revealed a list of grievances against the media outlet.
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