|From left, actors Jisoo, Jo Byung-gyu and Park Hye-soo / Korea Times file|
By Kwak Yeon-soo
Stars accused of school bullying are paying the price for their past wrongdoings. Some were removed from their forthcoming drama series, while some were pressed to drop out of reality shows or had TV commercials they have appeared in pulled from air.
Actor Ji Soo is in on the verge of losing his TV title role from KBS' historical romance series "River Where the Moon Rises." More than 5,500 viewers left comments on the broadcaster's website as of Thursday, demanding the production team pull him out of the series.
On Thursday, the 28-year-old actor issued an apology on Instagram, admitting to bullying his schoolmates in the past.
"I'm truly sorry to those who suffered because of me. There are no excuses to make up for my past wrongdoings. They are unforgivable," he wrote, adding that he had always felt guilty about his past and it had always weighed on him.
On Tuesday, a fresh allegation about his past erupted after a post was uploaded to an online forum by an anonymous netizen who claimed he went to the same middle school with Ji. Later, Ji's other schoolmates accused him of school violence including "bullying, beating up schoolmates, extorting money and even sexual misconduct."
Jo Byung-gyu, who rose to fame through his performances in "Sky Castle" (2018-19) and "The Uncanny Counter" (2020-21), was cut from KBS' new variety show "Come Back Home" following school bullying allegations.
It was originally planned for him to appear as a co-host on the variety show with popular TV personality Yoo Jae-suk, but the production team replaced the actor with comedian Lee Yong-jin. The actor was also removed from ads.
A series of posts accusing Jo of physical and verbal abuse in middle school appeared online Feb. 16, but the 25-year-old actor denied the allegations and requested police investigation.
Park Hye-soo canceled all her promotional appearances for the college romance series "Dear. M," which was originally planned to premiere on Feb. 26 on KBS. After the 27-year-old actress was accused online of bullying middle school classmates, the series was postponed indefinitely.
Park, who starred in the hit films "Swing Kids" (2018) and "Samjin Company English Class (2020)," is denying the accusations and vowed to take legal action.
Lee Na-eun of K-pop girl group April is being removed from commercials and TV shows after school bullying revelations. She has lost commercial appearances with brands like Dongsuh Foods, J.ESTINA, JinnyKim and Samjin Pharmacy.
SBS' variety show "Delicious Rendezvous" decided to edit out scenes including Lee. She was to appear on the episode aired on Thursday.
Lee is cast in the supporting role in SBS' crime action series "Taxi Driver," which is set to premiere on April 9, but the production team has decided to remove her from a promotional video.
"The filming for the promotional video was originally scheduled for March 2, but the date has been moved to March 5. We will focus on just two lead characters ― Lee Je-hoon and Lee Som. Although Na-eun is a main character, she will be excluded from the video," the production team said.
SBS said it will discuss the issue after reviewing the situation surrounding the singer-actress.
Other celebrities who have been accused of school bullying include Soojin of girl group (G)I-DLE, Mingyu of boy band Seventeen, Kihyun of Monsta X, Hyunjin of Stray Kids and actor Kim Dong-hee.
The entertainment industry has been grappling with a string of school bullying scandals after twin volleyball players Lee Jae-yeong and Lee Da-yeong of Heungkuk Life Pink Spiders left the court after a crop of school bullying accusations were leveled against them in February.