The Lowdown On The Controversy Surrounding Seo Ye-Ji And Kim Jung-Hyun
Kim Jung-hyun writes an apology letter, while Seo Ye-ji's agency has released a statement regarding the allegations against their artist
Seo Ye-ji has been making headlines due to the actress' alleged manipulation of her ex-boyfriend Kim Jung-hyun's behavior, which reportedly caused him to act rudely on the set of his drama, Time. This is said to have happened about three years ago, when the two were still dating. Seo Ye-ji and Kim Jung-hyun, now both 31 years old, worked with each other on the film Stay With Me.
It was Korean media outlet Dispatch that broke the news on April 12, accompanying their report with a series of text messages supposedly exchanged by Seo Ye-ji and Kim Jung-hyun. The messages suggest that she asked him to have the script revised to "take out all the physical contact" with his Time co-star Seohyun (of K-pop girl group Girls' Generation).
Days after the report was published, Seo Ye-ji and Kim Jung-hyun are still trending, and new angles and updates to the controversy have surfaced.
Here, we've summarized the controversy surrounding Seo Ye-ji and Kim Jung-hyun:
Kim Jung-hyun first made headlines because of another Dispatch report, stating that he and his Crash Landing on You (CLOY) co-star Seo Ji-hye are dating.
On April 8, Dispatch reported that Kim Jung-hyun and Seo Ji-hye are dating, releasing photos of the two entering the same apartment building. According to the report, the two started dating shortly after CLOY concluded in February of last year. Dispatch further stated that the actor moved to the area where she lives, and that they have been spotted on "home dates" several times.
Seo Ji-hye's agency, Culture Depot, however, was quick to deny the dating rumors, saying, "Kim Jung Hyun will be a free agent soon. He spoke with Seo Ji Hye about the matter of transferring agencies. Due to COVID-19, they met at home to discuss." According to her agency, Seo Ji-hye told them herself "that she is definitely not dating Kim Jung Hyun."
Kim Jung-hyun's agency, O& Entertainment, also spoke up about the issue, saying, "As far as we know, Kim Jung Hyun and Seo Ji Hye are not dating. They are only maintaining a close relationship as senior and junior after working together in tvN's Crash Landing on You."
Dispatch reported that Seo Ye-ji "manipulated" Kim Jung-hyun.
On April 12, Kim Jung-hyun would make headlines again, this time for being reportedly "manipulated" by his ex-girlfriend Seo Ye-ji. The Dispatch report came with a series of text messages between Seo Ye-ji and Kim Jung-hyun, where the actress was referring to him as "Kim Stiff" and telling him to avoid physical contact (or "skinship") with female staff and his Time leading lady Seohyun even if it meant having to request to modify the script.
According to Dispatch, Seo Ye-ji constantly asked Kim Jung-hyun to send her audios and videos to monitor him on the set of his drama. A staff member of Time also reportedly said that Kim Jung-hyun was constantly on his phone at the time and even confirmed that he indeed kept asking for changes in the script on the set, saying, "He stressed the importance of platonic love and asked to have any physical contact taken out. If things didn't go his way, he would suddenly run outside and start gagging."
Time starred Kim Jung-hyun as a restaurant CEO whose time is running out because of his failing health, and Seohyun as an optimistic woman who became a breadwinner at a young age and hasn't moved on yet from her sister's death. Because the series is a romance melodrama, skinship would've been unavoidable.
Here are some of the text messages that Seo Ye-ji and Kim Jung-hyun allegedly exchanged, as translated by website Soompi:
Seo Ye-ji: Kim Stiff. Take out all of the physical contact.
Kim Jung-hyun: Of course.
Seo Ye-ji: Why aren't you telling me how you did today?
Kim Jung-hyun: Today I didn't greet a female staff member. I was really stiff with other people.
Kim Jung-hyun: I made it clear to Director Jang again that I won't do romance.
Seo Ye-ji: Haha okay. Keep behaving stiffly.
Kim Jung-hyun: The script for episode 9 is complete, but I think it will need to be modified entirely.
Seo Ye-ji: Do a good job with the modifications.
Seo Ye-ji was said to have asked for updates from Kim Jung-hyun regarding the revision of the script.
Kim Jung-hyun: I'm continuously looking at my script. I'm not doing anything else.
Seo Ye-ji: Make sure changes are made so there is no romance.
Seo Ye-ji: You are happy thanks to me, right? So you should make me happier.
Kim Jung-hyun: I'm going to look at my script.
Seo Ye-ji: Okay. Get it modified well. Physical contact, romance, no-no.
Kim Jung-hyun: Of course.
If indeed true, this now provides context to the rude and cold behavior of Kim Jung-hyun on the set of Time and towards his co-star Seohyun, who was reportedly humiliated and brought to tears several times because of how he badly treated her. Back then, their press conference for Time became controversial because he was very emotionless and obviously avoiding physical contact with Seohyun.
Kim Jung-hyun dropped out of the drama just four episodes away from the finale, and according to reports then, the decision was made due to his eating and sleeping disorder.
He went on an 11-month hiatus after, and returned on-screen with the K-drama Crash Landing on You. After which, he appeared in a cameo in the series that Seo Ji-hye starred in, Dinner Mate. Late last year, he starred in the historical rom-com series Mr. Queen.
Seo Ye-ji skipped the press conference of her movie Recalled, and her agency, Gold Medalist, released a statement about the issue.
Seo Ye-ji's latest mystery/thriller movie Recalled, alongside actor Kim Kang-woo, is scheduled to be released on April 21. To promote the film, a press conference was held last April 13, but she did not attend. Following the Dispatch report, more issues about Seo Ye-ji surfaced, with netizens questioning her educational background, accusing her of being a perpetrator of school violence, and alleging that she isn't a "natural beauty" because she underwent plastic surgery.
Seo Ye-ji's popularity soared last year, when she starred in the K-drama It's Okay to Not be Okay (IOTNBO) alongside actor Kim Soo-hyun. The series earned her several acting awards from 18th Brand of the Year Awards, 5th Asia Artist Awards, and 7th APAN Star Awards. She's also currently nominated as Best Actress (TV) for IOTNBO at the 57th Baeksang Arts Awards; the announcement of the nominees for which coincided with the day the controversy came out, making many of her loyal fans suspicious of the timing.
Below is the full statement of Gold Medalist:
"Hello, this is GOLDMEDALIST Co.,Ltd.
This is an official statement regarding the recent reports about our agency's actor Seo Ye Ji.
First of all, we apologize that it took a long time for an official statement to be released.
After checking with Kim Jung Hyun's side, we received clear confirmation that the controversy regarding the drama did not occur because of Seo Ye Ji, and he expressed his intent to release his own statement regarding this. However, he expressed that it will take some time for the statement to be released because various issues are involved. As the controversy continues to heighten, we were told that it is alright for us to release our statement first, so we are releasing our statement now. We once again apologize for the delay in releasing a statement.
In addition, we sincerely bow our head in apology for the absence today from the press conference for the film 'Recalled,' causing harm to staff and the other actors of the film as well as reporters.
We are revealing our statement separate from Kim Jung Hyun's. It is logically difficult to accept the controversial report that a drama's leading actor would act exactly as told by someone else without his own free will. It is realistically impossible that an actor can act and participate in filming without one's own will.
It is not shown in the conversations that were revealed, but Kim Jung Hyun also made requests to Seo Ye Ji, who was filming a different drama, to not film kiss scenes. So Seo Ye Ji also told him, 'Then you shouldn't do it either,' among conversations of lovers showing jealousy about each other's physical contact with others. This can be seen as a common lovers' quarrel between actors who are dating. However, all actors carry out filming normally, putting their quarrels with their partners aside. We believe Kim Jung Hyun must have had an unavoidable personal matter as well. Moreover, the report contains conversations between individuals that should not have been made public, and great misunderstandings seem to have been caused because it was not taken into consideration that these are private conversations between lovers. Ultimately, we are deeply reflecting on having caused concern to many people due to personal immature feelings in a romantic relationship.
We are also receiving many questions about Seo Ye Ji's education, so we would like to use this opportunity to share the facts. Seo Ye Ji had been admitted to Complutense University of Madrid in Madrid, but after starting her activities in Korea, she was not able to normally attend university.
Moreover, regarding the suspicions of school violence that were additionally raised, we inform you that they are completely false.
We once again apologize for the trouble caused."
Amid the controversy, fans rallied behind Seohyun; she posted on Instagram.
As soon as the controversy broke out, netizens and fans of Seohyun were quick to make the hashtag #ApologizetoSeohyun trend on Twitter and rallied behind the K-pop idol and actress.
Without directly addressing the issue, fans think that Seohyun's recent Instagram updates refer to the controversy. Posting a series of selfies, her first post last April 11 has this caption: "My love, my people always thank you and love you."
On April 14, she posted photos of herself again, writing, "May only good things happen to everyone. Have a wonderful day."
Kim Jung-hyun released a handwritten letter of apology.
A day after Gold Medalist came out with their official statement, on April 14, Kim Jung-hyun released a letter through his agency, O& Entertainment, apologizing for his rude behavior on the set of Time.
Below is his letter in full:
"Hello. This is Kim Jung Hyun.
The drama 'Time' was the first work I played a leading role in as an actor, so it was also a very meaningful project to me. But I brought deep disappointment and pain upon the director, screenwriter, fellow actors, and staff. I apologize.
My memories of the 'Time' press conference remain in my head like shards. Even I cannot forgive my attitude at the time. I have so much regret that I wish I could turn back time.
I brought the shameful incident upon myself due to personal issues. I was not able to fulfill my responsibility as the drama's protagonist and an actor. I apologize without making any excuses.
The process in which I dropped out of the drama 'Time' and the behavior I showed at the press conference were all wrong. I sincerely apologize to actress Seohyun who was hurt because of it as well as all other related personnel who worked hard at the time.
I believe I should pay a visit to each of the 'Time' staff members and those who were hurt by me and personally apologize to them. Even if it takes a long time, I will go to the director and screenwriter of 'Time,' the actors, and all of the staff members who worked [on 'Time'] and ask for forgiveness.
I apologize to my agency O& Entertainment as morally right, and I also apologize to Culture Depot for causing them to be mentioned in a disgraceful way. I also genuinely apologize to my fans who always supported me, believed in me, and waited for me.
I bow my head in apology to everyone I caused discomfort to. As I was writing this letter, I was able to reflect on my mistakes and wrong behavior. If I am given the opportunity, I will take nothing for granted and work hard to become a healthy actor who reflects on and manages himself. I am sorry."
Kim Jung-hyun and Seo Ye-ji suffer major backlash.
Seo Ye-ji, who was reportedly confirmed for the upcoming drama Island, has dropped out of the series, according to media outlet OSEN. Its production team will revise the script. The revisions are necessary, because the character Won Min-ho was said to have been written not only based on the webtoon character but also with Seo Ye-ji in mind.
Brands associated with Seo Ye-ji—like New Origin, AER, and Luna—are also said to have cut ties with her.
Meanwhile, a petition demanding to expel Kim Jung-hyun from the entertainment industry was filed on April 12, posted on Cheong Wa Dae's Blue House National Petition Bulletin Board.
In the midst of this controversy, Seo Ye-ji's former staff member defended her.
In an Allkpop article, it was reported that a former staff member, a stylist, of Seo Ye-ji, spoke up to support her, and is prepared to reveal her identity if need be "to resolve the misunderstanding." The stylist said she worked with the actress for five years, and that Seo Ye-ji "was someone who was courteous to her staff."
The stylist wrote a post on web portal Nate's community board Pann which reads:
"I'm writing this as a staff member who worked with her for 5 years from the second half of 2015 to the second half of 2020. I don't know who wrote the posts from earlier, but can you say you were a staff member in front of me? I understand that no one else has been with the actress as long as I have. The writing by the two posters were suddenly deleted, and the two of them were combined into one on Nate's board... A person I know named Seo Ye Ji often thanked me for my hard work and even greeted my parents, which is not easy to do. She was not a person who thought less of a staff member or thought she could treat them badly, and she approached staff first as well as greeted them. She always thought of the joy of giving love more than being loved, and I personally like Seo Ye Ji as a person and have good memories of her."
Lead photos from the movie "Stay With Me" (Barunson E&A / EVR Studio)