Their statement was a response to the statement released by the law firm of the alleged victim Yoo Eun-seo. In their document, HYBE explains that Kim Garam was indeed punished and received Degree 5 disciplinary action from the school violence committee. However, HYBE’s statement has been met with mixed responses, with many doubting the contents of the statement online.
HYBE claims Kim Garam was merely defending a friend whose pictures were taken without consent by the alleged victim. HYBE said,
“Kim Garam and her friends, who were angry at the spread of illegal photography by her friend D, met Yoo Eun-seo separately and cursed during a big protest. Yoo Eun-seo admitted to her misbehavior, but for this behavior, she was not punished by the school, including the school violence committee.”
One of the biggest contested points was the Degree 5 punishment Kim Garam received. To explain why its so contested, one has to understand the school system in South Korea.
Generally speaking, school violence committees are held in case of serious cases of bulling and violence. When a disciplinary action is taken, there are nine degrees of which the student can be punished for one being the lowest and nine being the highest. [Degree 1: ordering the perpetrator to make an apology. Degree 9: expulsion.]
Starting from Degree 5, the perpetrator’s parents are also required to complete an educational course on violence.
In most cases in South Korea, degree 5 is very rarely used. Schools take a lenient approach most times in order not to affect the minor’s chances at further education. In similar past cases, even with the ones pertaining to physical violence, the students were usually punished with degree 1 to 3. [other cases in other schools not Kim Garam’s one]
This is why k-netizens were having a hard time believing that Kim Garam, a mere victim according to HYBE, would be so heavily punished if she only cursed at someone and that action was the result of alleged victim taking photos without consent. Many wondered why the mother didn’t protest this because degree 5 will go on the student’s record and likely affect them. Not to mention, the parents will have to take educational courses.
In responses to the many inquires about this, a source from the Ministry of Education ended up issuing a response, they stated that degree 5 is a measure taken when it seems unlikely that measures such as community service would be enough for the perpetrator to feel remorse, thus, in order to reform their mindset on the violence committed, they make them reflect on their actions ‘with the help of a professional.’
When the ministry of education released a statement, netizens were stunned at the confirmation that its unlikely for a mere verbal argument to have resulted in such a harsh result.
To address the concerns, HYBE told news outlets, “Degree 5 disciplinary action was taken even though there was absolutely no physical violence.”
HYBE says the school violence committees are ‘held differently depending on the matter, school, district,’ and are NOT, ‘courts of law.’
HYBE also explained why the mother didn’t complain about the school violence committee, they said,
“At the time, Kim Garam’s mother believe the school has made the decision that would help her daughter the most, so she didn’t appeal the decision.”
However, HYBE says the mother now deeply regrets not contesting the degree of the school violence committee’s disciplinary action, and closed with “she thought that was the best way to educate her daughter.”
Kim Garam is currently on hiatus to “heal her wounded heart” according to HYBE.