Le Sserafim’s Kim Garam Exiting Contract With HYBE/Source

Kim Garam.
Photo: Lee Young-ho/Sipa USA/Alamy Stock Photo

On April 5, Source Music and HYBE unveiled the second member of their brand-new woman group, Le Sserafim: 16-year-old Kim Garam. By May 20, the labels had introduced that Garam would go on an indefinite hiatus because of bullying allegations that had metastasized on Korean web boards and Ok-pop Twitter. Over the course of six weeks, Garam’s new life as an idol — with intense schedules, picture administration, and fierce cyber adoration — would go up in smoke. After eight weeks of performing as a five-piece, the labels introduced on July 20 that Garam would have her contract terminated and Le Sserafim would proceed with simply members Sakura, Chaewon, Yunjin, Kazuha, and Eunchae. How did we get right here?

The six-member woman group is the product of a collaboration between Source Music and HYBE — the conglomerate that owns Source Music in addition to different subsidiary labels like Big Hit Music and Pledis Entertainment. HYBE noticed Le Sserafim as a way to fill a girl group–shaped hole in its roster — which incorporates BTS, Seventeen, and Tomorrow x Together. Even earlier than becoming a member of Le Sserafim, the group’s members had been fairly completed — one member is a ballerina whereas one other is a classically skilled opera singer — so the group was set to make waves on the aggressive Ok-pop scene. “They are taking a daring stance and saying right from the outset that they will stand at the very top,” wrote Source Music. “The group’s name, LE SSERAFIM, is an anagram of the words ‘I’M FEARLESS’ … It is like an incantation to guarantee their success on the merit of their unbreakable poise and strength.” But that poise was challenged simply hours after Garam was launched to the general public.

I’m unsure which got here first — the allegations of bullying or of drawings of dicks — however I can say that the claims surfaced lower than a day after Kim Garam arrived on the scene. Her announcement was revealed in a splashy YouTube video that shares an aesthetic with imprecise minimalist advertisements from vogue homes. Apart from Garam’s 2005 start year, Ok-pop followers didn’t know a lot about her at this level past the introduction video that proved she was an adept mannequin. Hours after Garam’s reveal because the second member of the sextet, Korean web boards and Twitter accounts started buzzing with drama in regards to the idol’s middle-school previous. One post, shared on the Korean forum The Qoo, purports to indicate Garam posing with pals in entrance of a chalkboard lined in drawings of nude figures, ejaculating penises, and a cartoon picture of somebody being penetrated. While the drawings aren’t Rodin, “SEX” written in all caps on the high of the chalkboard exhibits the theme of their sketches.

Pannchoa, an internet site that interprets feedback from Korean netizens into English, wrote a weblog post that translated the comments from that unique Qoo post. “She hasn’t debuted yet and we’re close to debut, I think it’s better if they just remove her from the group,” one commenter wrote. Another famous anecdotal proof that some are calling Garam the “Korean CardiB.” and believed that debuting Le Sserafim underneath these circumstances harm the opposite members. Others attacked Garam’s persona: “Being shameless enough to draw this with chalk over school chalk board is just showing her personality is trash.” Some commenters had been extra forgiving, discovering the state of affairs humorous. The unique discussion board on The Qoo has been seen greater than 160,000 occasions and contains virtually 1,300 feedback.

Various anecdotes, which kind of amounted to rumour from classmates, set the web aflame. “She was popular in middle school for being a same-grade school violence assailant,” somebody alleged in textual content messages translated by Pannchoa. (According to the weblog, these screenshots had been initially posted on a since-deleted Qoo discussion board however have been extensively shared throughout Korean websites, Twitter, and Facebook.) These identical texts accuse Garam of bullying these youthful than her by means of Facebook messages in the event that they didn’t greet her, smoking and ingesting, and extorting college students. Other blogs, together with KBIZoom, equally translated the screenshots. In one tweet, a person claimed that Garam’s bullying led to the convening of a committee on faculty violence. Many of those posts claimed that Garam was a well-known iljin, which might be loosely translated as “school bully,” and that one in all her alleged victims collapsed after listening to that Garam was going to hitch a lady group.

Source Music and HYBE denied all of the allegations and claimed that Garam was a sufferer of each cyberbullying and faculty bullying herself. “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,” Source Music wrote in a statement translated by Soompi. “Source Music has taken legal action against the spread of unilateral and distorted allegations and false information related to this case. Therefore, we sincerely ask you to refrain from speculative reporting based on suspicions that are currently being maliciously raised online. Furthermore, the allegations that have been raised contain defamation of character against someone who is still a minor before her debut as a celebrity, and we would like to clearly state that we will take legal action without any settlement or leniency.” (Vulture has reached out to Source Music for remark and can replace this piece if and when the company responds.)

After the assertion was launched on April 5, the web kind of moved on — with some Twitter customers asking people to provide Garam the benefit of the doubt. Others weren’t essentially involved with the bullying allegations, however they didn’t need their faves within the group (former Iz*One members and beloved idols Chaewon and Sakura) to be slandered.

After the discharge of the group’s first EP, Fearless, Le Sserafim instantly loved success each at house and overseas. Both the album and its eponymous lead single appeared on the Korean Gaon, Billboard 200, Billboard Global 200, and Billboard Japan charts. As is customary in Ok-pop, the group carried out their singles (“Fearless” and “Blue Flame”) on a wide range of Korean music exhibits, gave interviews, and had a debut showcase. “It’s difficult to say anything about this at the moment,” Garam advised reporters when questioned in regards to the allegations on the group’s first press conference. “I will work hard as a member of Le Sserafim.” The group’s chief, Kim Chaewon, added, “I think the company will have an opportunity to talk about this in more detail later.”

Le Sserafim’s honeymoon was reduce quick on May 15 when an nameless supply leaked faculty data that element Garam’s alleged bullying. The paperwork had been leaked on the Korean discussion board Pann and look like a notification kind by the Hakpok Committee on faculty bullying, as translated by the weblog Daily Naver. A remark upvoted greater than 300 occasions says, “If Kim Garam fans deny this too then.. wow. I’d be curious what type of evidence would be necessary for them to admit ㅋㅋ. Whether she bullied or not, this has reached a point where HYBE needs to open their mouths now. They thought things would die down quietly but that isn’t possible anymore.” That identical day, an allegedly authenticated model of the identical doc got here to gentle in one other viral Pann post. Viewed greater than 500,000 occasions, the post reveals the complete outcomes of Garam’s bullying investigation in 2018. Garam’s alleged offenses embrace obscenity and bullying of a number of victims. The doc notes that the perpetrators accomplished 4 particular schooling programs and psychotherapy. Garam reportedly acquired a degree-five punishment for her involvement.

A statement released by the law firm Daeryun, which represents a lady named Yoo Eunseo, asserts that the leaked paperwork are in line with these submitted by the agency’s shopper: “The victim (going by the name Yoo Eunseo) was a victim of school violence from Kim Garam and her friends from late April to early May of 2018. She transferred to a new school 1 to 2 weeks after the incidents because she was unable to withstand the continuous group violence.” According to the assertion, the woman was distraught after HYBE unveiled Garam’s involvement within the group. Worse, on-line trolls guessed that she had been behind the primary spherical of bullying claims and started to harass her on social media. The harassment triggered her to endure panic assaults, the assertion maintains:

Yoo Eunseo was receiving messages on social media saying she is maliciously slandering Kim Garam or that she is an orc who was simply jealous of fairly women. More feedback like, ‘She redid everything on her face, but she’s nonetheless ugly,’ ‘She’s slandering as a result of she’s jealous,’ had been additionally acquired. What was worse, some messages and posts even shared images of Yoo Eunseo, blurring her out and threatening her with messages like, ‘Thanks for taking care of the blur. If you stalk LE SSERAFIM, you should get your grave ready.’

(Vulture reached out to Daeryun for remark and can replace this piece if and when the agency responds.)

Following HYBE’s first response to the allegations in April, Daeryun had despatched HYBE particulars in regards to the abuse dedicated by Garam, the outcomes of the inquiry into her bullying, and a letter asking HYBE to apologize for its false assertion. According to Daeryun, Yoo Eunseo had tried suicide on account of the barrage of assaults. It was her parents who requested Daeryun to share the assertion to clear their daughter’s title and power the label’s hand.

After these explosive revelations, Source Music and HYBE issued a statement that accused Daeryun of compiling a one-sided argument that makes Garam look dangerous. Even although the assertion doesn’t straight tackle Garam’s bullying previous, it does deny rumors that lit up the web — together with allegations of smoking and ingesting, being pressured to switch faculties, and using vulgar language.

Source Music and HYBE announced Garam’s indefinite hiatus on May 20. Although Garam wasn’t formally booted from Le Sserafim, Source Music and HYBE determined to position the controversial star on indefinite hiatus. After canceling appearances on May 20, Le Sserafim continued performing as a five-member group.

On May 24, outlets reported that an “industry representative” had stated Source Music and HYBE had been in negotiations with Yoo Eunseo in an effort to convey Garam back into the fold. Meanwhile, Korean boards continue to post allegations whereas Twitter customers oscillate between various levels of praise and calls for Garam’s removal.

After practically two months of silence on the difficulty, Source Music and HYBE formally introduced the termination of Garam’s contract on July 20. “Our company has decided to terminate the exclusive contract with Kim Garam. We extend our sincerest apologies to our fans and to those who have shown love and support to the group,” the assertion reads. “Le Sserafim will continue their activities as a five-member group, and we will spare no effort to support the group.” Garam has but to make an announcement of her personal.

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