‘Itaewon Class’ actor Kim Dong-hee apologizes for bullying classmate

Kim Dong-hee, who starred in JTBC’s Korean dramas “Itaewon Class” and “Sky Castle,” and in the Netflix series “Extracurricular,” has issued an apology after admitting that he bullied his classmate in elementary school.

Back in February 2021, a netizen accused the 22-year-old Korean actor of bullying in school, writing, " seeing proudly having a career as a celebrity and receiving love from people when his daily life involved hitting and bullying other kids," according to Korea JoongAng Daily.

Kim Dong-hee as Jang Geun-soo in "Itaewon Class" (JTBC)

His agency, NPIO Entertainment, said then, "The netizen, who said that he wasn't even the victim, deleted the post so we did not take any legal actions . The same false claim has been made again three years later. Therefore, we will take legal action and protect the actor from any unfair damages."

The actor eventually sued the person who posted it online for defamation but the Suwon District Prosecutor’s Office dismissed his complaint for lack of evidence.

Kim Dong-hee released a letter of apology on Jan. 13 after Korean media outlet Sports Kyunghyang was able to get a copy of the decision by the Suwon District Prosecutor’s Office that stated why it decided not to prosecute the netizen.

The document, dated Nov. 30, 2021, stated that Kim Dong-hee admitted to bullying his classmate in the fifth grade in elementary school. He said he pushed his classmate and kicked him in the chest with his foot but denied that he threatened him with scissors or a box cutter.

Kim Dong-hee in "Extracurricular" (Netflix)

In his apology, Kim Dong-hee said, “I argued with a classmate in the classroom when I was in 5th grade and we fought and were scolded by our teacher. After my mother heard this news, she harshly scolded me and we went together to the friend’s home. We personally apologized to him and his mother.”

He said he thought his friend and his mother had already forgiven him as he and his friend went to the study room together and spent a lot of time not only in having classes but eating dinner with his friend’s family.

“After that online post was uploaded last year, I wanted to immediately apologize to the friend but I was scared that my apology would further instigate controversy and would mean that I admit to things that I haven’t done,” he said.

He added, “I want to sincerely apologize to the friend who was hurt because of me, and I also deeply repent and sincerely apologize to all who were wounded due to my immature words and actions.”