Hyunjin, one of the most popular members of K-pop boy band Stray Kids, will stop his activities, go on hiatus and do self-reflection after he apologized over allegations he committed school violence while he was in middle school (equivalent to junior high school in the Philippines) but some netizens want him to leave the group.
He is one of several Korean celebrities who have been accused in the last week of school violence by former classmates or schoolmates.
School violence under Korea’s Act on the Prevention of and Countermeasures Against Violence In Schools is defined as “actions committed against students inside or outside of school premises resulting in a physical or mental injury, or damage to property through a battery, assault, confinement, threat, kidnapping, abduction, defamation, insult, extortion, coercion, forced errand, sexual violence, bullying, or cyber-bullying, or with obscene or violent information via an information and communications network.”
In a statement on Feb. 27, JYP Entertainment, Stray Kids’ agency, announced that Hyunjin will stop all his activities.
“We would like to inform you about the future activities of Stray Kids’ Hyunjin. We are currently contacting everyone in-charge of the activities for which Hyunjin was already committed to participate in and coordinating the best way to cancel the activities that would minimize the damage. This process took some time and the announcement of Hyunjin’s future activities was delayed,” it said.
“Hyunjin will self-reflect after stopping all his activities as a celebrity,” JYP Entertainment said. “He is sincerely regretting hurting many people with harsh and inappropriate words during his middle school days . He sincerely apologized to those who have been hurt and he will do his best to heal their wounds. We sincerely apologize for causing great concern.”
The decision to stop his activities came after he was accused of school violence by a middle school classmate who demanded a personal apology from him.
Last Feb. 22, a netizen posted online to say that at the time, they belonged to a small agency, learned acting and appeared in filming as a supporting actor. The writer claimed Hyunjin told them, “I will debut before you” and started harassing them. The writer also claimed that at the end of second year of middle school, they were invited to a class chat room where Hyunjin and other male students and posted abusive words and sexual harassment.
On Feb. 26, Hyunjin wrote a letter and apologized over the school violence controversy.
“First of all, I sincerely apologize to those who were hurt by my wrong words and actions while in school. Looking back at what I did in my days when I was lacking, I am ashamed and there is no excuse. I realized that my words and actions, in which I didn’t know how to be considerate of others, hurt others. It’s too late but I will reflect on it deeply,” he said.
He added, “I don’t think I can ever be forgiven for inflicting an unforgettable wound on someone whether intentionally or unintentionally. I am deeply reflecting as I know that the scars I left will not disappear completely just because I apologized and the apology was accepted.”
Hyunjin thanked the people he hurt for allowing him to apologize to them in person. He also apologized to others that he hurt with his words and actions that he was unable to meet.
However, netizens have issued a statement on Feb. 28 calling on Hyunjin to leave Stray Kids. The petition that was posted online stated that JYP Entertainment’s decision to suspend his activities is a lukewarm attitude towards the controversy.
It said Hyunjin’s controversy is damaging Stray Kids’ image and will disrupt the group’s activities.
The netizens “strongly demand the withdrawal of Stray Kids member Hyunjin and support the activities of Stray Kids’ Bang Chan, Lee Know, Changbin, Han, Felix, Seungmin and I.N.”
Last Feb. 26, the first statement urging Hyunjin to leave Stray Kids was posted online. It stated that Hyunjin’s controversy is creating a conflict since all the victims mentioned were women and the fanbase of the boy band is composed mostly of women in their teens and 20s.
“School violence can never be justified for any reason,” according to the statement.
Stray Kids will be participating in the TV program “Kingdom: Legendary War” that will start airing on Mnet on April 1.