8:13 pm - 02/07/2018

Jo Kwon Asks Why He Has Become A Sacrificial Lamb In Kyung Hee University Controversy

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Both Jo Kwon and his agency Cube Entertainment have issued statements regarding the recent controversy surrounding his graduation from a master’s program at Kyung Hee University.

On February 6, Kyung Hee University came under fire once again after a report from SBS News stated that an idol had received their master’s degree from the university through a lackluster performance video instead of a thesis. The artist was later reported to be Jo Kwon.

Cube Entertainment has now released the following statement regarding the accusations.

Hello. This is Cube Entertainment.

Firstly, we apologize for causing concern due to events regarding Jo Kwon.

In 2015, Jo Kwon graduated from the department of Postmodern Music at Kyung Hee University. In March of that year, he entered the Performing Art department in the Art Fusion Design graduate school at Kyung Hee University. On August 16 of 2017, he finished his master’s degree program at the Kyung Hee University graduate school.

Until this became an issue, Jo Kwon had understood that he had received his degree through the non-thesis (graduation performance) evaluation procedure, as he had been told by the school.

We have confirmed with the academic advisor for the Kyung Hee University Art Fusion Design graduate school in regards to the detailed regulations about the graduation performance that is under suspicion, and received the following reply: ‘There are no detailed regulations about the graduation performance. In Jo Kwon’s case, since it is a special graduate school, both credit completion and degree completion through a performance are possible, so a performance was substituted. None of our professors know about the detailed regulations included in the report about the graduation performance. During the non-thesis evaluation application announcement, an announcement was made in front of the teaching staff that stated what kind of performance it would be, and the student graduated after receiving a report later on with the results. Nothing went against the regulations.’

The pamphlet and poster that were included in the SBS report on February 6 were documents (pamphlet, poster) that Jo Kwon submitted to the administration to confirm the graduation performance. For his non-thesis evaluation, a performance had been planned for May 6, but he was unfortunately unable to carry out the performance due to his schedule. However, the teaching staff taking part in his evaluation told him to submit a video later on.

Not carrying out the instruction to later on send the additional performance video in the non-thesis evaluation was Jo Kwon’s mistake.

It seems that as the situation at the time was that his graduation had been confirmed during the evaluation, he had not thought much about carrying out the additional instruction. If his degree is canceled due to this, he will humbly accept.

Also, in regards to the video in the report, he was contacted by a teaching assistant on February 2 who told him that SBS was doing a report. They said that since the additional video submitted was not in their possession, it could be an issue, so they told him to film a new video and submit it. The video was taken at the Peace Open-Air Theater at Kyung Hee University in the presence of the teaching assistant, and submitted.

We deeply apologize to those who have been hurt by this controversy.”

Jo Kwon has also personally written the following letter to explain what happened, and shared it on Instagram on February 7 through three posts.

Hello, this is Jo Kwon.

I entered Kyung Hee University’s department of Postmodern Music in the class of ’09, and although I wasn’t perfect as I was a celebrity, I sincerely tried hard more than anyone else to do my best in my schoolwork just like any other student.

After four years of work, I graduated from the undergraduate program and received the honor of entering the master’s degree program at the graduate school. I sincerely focused on my master’s program as well, just as I had with my undergraduate program, but the results that came back after my graduation have been very perplexing to me as well. During my time at graduate school, there were professors who recognized my sincerity about my schoolwork, and professors who wouldn’t recognize it even if I worked harder than anyone else. In other words, there were people who judged me as a celebrity instead of a student. I had that difficulty due to the special nature of my job, but thankfully, many of my professors and students liked me. I thought that I had shed the distinctiveness of being a celebrity and been recognized for my sincerity.

I do not want my university life, which was filled with my hard work and passion, to be stained because of my distinctiveness as a celebrity. I thought that I am the same as everyone else. I think that that is something anyone can empathize with if they are a student that is passionate and sincere about their studies. The fact that I graduated from Kyung Hee University’s undergraduate and graduate programs and received degrees was not the result of my status as a celebrity. I worked hard to complete the assignments given to me by the school. As I write this, I feel very upset over the fact that I am in a situation where I have to explain this. I sincerely completed my undergraduate program in the Postmodern Music department, and my sincerity and passion for my studies were acknowledged to the point that during my undergraduate program, I received a scholarship.

In regards to my graduate school graduation, which has become a controversy, at the Kyung Hee University Art Fusion Design graduate school, students can choose from two methods of confirming their graduation, which are a thesis or a non-thesis (graduation performance) evaluation. I applied for a non-thesis evaluation and graduated, and took part in the evaluation on the day of the thesis evaluation. Through the recent incident, I have learned about the description of preferential treatment particular to those who work as celebrities.

It is truly a shame that rumors and gossip are inevitable for celebrities and that this kind of explanation is needed. I am aware that there are currently various conspiracies and conflicts between the department’s professors. Isn’t your power struggle that began in the name of getting rid of internal corruption by pulling it out at its roots ruining your own students and school? I’m even a student and pupil who studied hard during those professors’ classes. Is it the fate of a celebrity with popularity to be unable to have even the minimum amount of rights?

How could you have made this a topic of the news and how could you have caused hurt in this way.. You say that to graduate, you have to do a graduation performance that costs tens of millions of won..? At my final thesis evaluation, when I brought posters and pamphlets about my graduation performance, I was not told of any department regulations about the non-thesis (graduation performance) evaluation by the professors who were in attendance at the evaluation. When I submitted the related documents of confirmation to the administration as well, I was not told about regulations within the department about the graduation performance and did not receive guidance that this went against the regulations. If I had known that, I of course would have done a performance that met those regulations.

A student that graduated in 2016 through a performance has said that regulations created by the professor in charge then were not regulations shared with the school’s administration or other professors. For reference, when I graduated in 2017, the professor in charge then was not the same as the professor in charge in 2016. Also, if a performance doesn’t cost tens of millions of won, is it a lackluster performance..? It is not possible to confirm the related regulations on the home page of the Art Fusion Design department. There was also no mention of the department’s regulations during the thesis public announcement application or even when I applied for the non-thesis evaluation. I applied under a non-thesis (graduate performance) evaluation in accordance with the application qualifications for non-thesis evaluations that were posted on the home page. I know that in addition to me, other graduate students did not know about these regulations. If there were published regulations, we would have known.

I thought that I had fulfilled all of my duties for my graduation in 2017 that were given to me by the school.

Throughout my time at graduate school, I did my studies while doing my best. I knew that in my last semester I could choose between doing a thesis and doing a non-thesis evaluation in order to graduate, and as there was the qualification requirement that said I could choose the non-thesis evaluation, I chose the method that was the best for me.

Regarding the regulations that were described as strict by the student who previously graduated through a graduation performance in the news interview, only the thesis application and non-thesis evaluation application forms were posted on the the school’s undergraduate notice board, and only the qualifications to apply for the non-thesis evaluation were posted, with no information about the graduation performance. Then can there really be department regulations that the professors in charge who were present on the day of evaluation and the administration department aren’t aware of?

It was done under the title of busking, and busking is a performance done in a free style. Because I didn’t put tens of millions of won into the performance, I couldn’t perform in an extravagant way.

During my graduation evaluation announcement, when I was doing a presentation to my professors, I asked for their understanding about the performance date, and I was told to submit the video later on for the professor’s verification, with no one saying anything about me not being able to graduate if I did it in this manner. The Busan photo I uploaded on May 6 was one that I uploaded after going there on May 5 and already returning. It’s true that I did the performance in the Kyung Hee University Peace Open-Air Theater, and it is not a manipulated video. In the open-air theater with 8,000 or so seats, I did not use lights or large parts, and since I was doing a small-scale performance to submit to the professor, I was not aware that I would have to make an inquiry to the school.

It was not only me but also the students who I was in the master’s program together with who did not know about these regulations. If these had been official published regulations that all of the graduate students in our department had known about, since I’m not a fool, I would have spent tens of millions of won in the preparation for my graduation as per these regulations.

However, all I did was prepare for my graduation sincerely according to what the school had told me. Studying diligently is of course the duty of a student, and you cannot simply graduate just by studying diligently. To the reporter who reported through SBS8 News, you thoughtlessly used the performance video of the student who graduated in 2016 without their agreement and said tens of millions of won hadn’t been spent, but what are the exact regulations that even the school doesn’t know about? I received information from fellow students at my school, and I have both a recorded tape of a professor saying there are no regulations and a screenshot of the graduated student in the report saying that the reporter had exaggerated too much when he wrote the report.

Anyone could tell that the reporter and professors’ focus was about a deeper part of the school internally, but if you just look at today’s news, why do I have to become the sacrificial lamb..? To the reporter who exaggerated when he wrote his article, I don’t know if the general public will just see the sensational article and react to how it seems, and I really don’t know about anything else, but I believe that my fellow students from my university and graduate school days and the professors whose classes I took so diligently know more than anyone else that I sincerely did my best at school as a student and not as a celebrity.

Also, the fact that my time at university has in a single moment become ‘lackluster’ and ‘manipulated’ is so painful. I sincerely apologize for causing concern to many people."

Since I first heard that there would be an article coming out about me, I’ve been preparing to share my view. I’m so sorry that it seems like the staff of my former agency and current agency had to make difficult statements. I was worried that things would be distorted so I didn’t do any interviews. Before I posted this message, I thoroughly checked with a department professor once again about the details and regulations, as well as checked that graduation from the master’s program was determined by the judgement of a professor’s evaluation of a thesis, and also have the evidence from the students that the stated regulations do not exist. That is why I am clearly sharing my position now.

When I was preparing for my graduation performance, no one explained to me about the regulations. I thought that the preparation process I was carrying out was the normal process. I thought that Kyung Hee University would make a statement first, but as they haven’t, I’m posting about how I feel for those people who are frustrated.

“Although I am lacking, I will continue to do my best to have a good influence, but the current reality in which I can’t do anything in front of unseen authority is such a shame.

As Cube Entertainment’s statement said, no matter what the results are of my mistake in regards to the later submission of the video, I will humbly accept it. However, I did not do a lackluster performance and I sang with all my heart. I sent a video to the school in the way I had been told. Isn’t it too malicious to say that I filmed it in a manipulated way? As I looked back on my life including before I became a singer and after, I thought that I’m doing well. Rather than thinking that I need to do better, I’ve thought that I’ve done well to have done this much. Once again, I apologize for having caused concern to many people.

To the reporter who made the report, you found out my number somehow and called directly a few days ago several times. Of course as a reporter, the exaggerated contents would have come from someone at the school, but you don’t know the deeper story.

There may be people who believe the contents of the report, but what was the exact goal you wanted to achieve through a report that was founded on a rumor from within a school? Even I don’t know if the part I know is just a rumor or the truth. All that is clear is that the situation in the school is not normal right now, and it’s a fact that students and certain celebrities are becoming sacrificial lambs.

Since I feel that this is unjust, I wanted to object to the local news reporter’s pen and ability to write, but I hope that you will stay true to a reporter’s conviction of unyielding to objection.

Sources: @kwon_jo (1, 2, 3) & Naver via Soompi
noxed 8th-Feb-2018 02:38 am (UTC)
@jokwon tl;dr

also i didn't know he was with cube now what
pearlychoco 8th-Feb-2018 02:55 am (UTC)
he signed with cube last november after being with jyp for 16 (!) years
sandritablue 8th-Feb-2018 02:56 am (UTC)
So Kyunghee university doesnt have any regulations for phd grad school. In Yonghwa's case there isn't regulation either about the place the interview has to take place in.....what a fucking shit university. JoKwon followed what teacher said and so did Yonghwa when the professor told him the interview would be in FNC....
smilla_sini 8th-Feb-2018 02:58 am (UTC)
To be honest, after finishing grad school in a major university in Korea, I can tell you that they never give you accurate guidelines. We spent a week trying to find somebody at the academic department of the main library (that deals with our dissertations) who actually knew how the original copy was supposed to look like (which forms to include in which copies, which stamps go where, etc.), and they still weren't sure. As a result, if you check the actual books, they are all different.
The defense was also a fluke for some. I know people who were still changing a title a month after the official deadline for the results of thesis evaluation. Not gonna lie, I was actually angry when I found out.
pepsi_twist9 8th-Feb-2018 03:35 am (UTC)
So in the end it's the school that should be considered at this point but we know that won't happen.
sra_interesante 8th-Feb-2018 03:58 am (UTC)
i think from now on all idols enrolling in university "casually" before enlistment will look suspicious ...

i bet rich kids and politician sons use this method too

but between roasting a chaebol or an idol netizens of course prefer idols

jinkiestabi 8th-Feb-2018 05:11 am (UTC)
See, I knew something was going on with that school. Especially since both companies mentioned how they weren’t told about any specifications or if they were breaking rules. I don’t know much more about Yonghwa’s instance, but at least with this one it’s clear the university is on some bullshit. And Jo Kwon has the receipts to show it.
chikage_chan 8th-Feb-2018 07:28 am (UTC)
Jesus, what’s going on in that university? I’m glad Jokwon at least has got the receipts to prove that they are a mess.

I wish they would expose everyone involved, not only the idols, but I don’t see that happening. Teachers and staff that don’t take their jobs seriously are just as bad as the students.
msgrottesca 8th-Feb-2018 08:16 am (UTC)
This school is obviously corrupt but some parts of this letter are incredibly cringy, and I say this as someone who has always liked Jokwon lol but shit like -

Is it the fate of a celebrity with popularity to be unable to have even the minimum amount of rights?

Is so dramatic - you were given preferential treatment (even if you didn't know), this treatment was criticized. That is not anyone denying you rights or violating your personhood. Calm down.

How could you have made this a topic of the news and how could you have caused hurt in this way.

There was corruption - even if you weren't aware of said corruption, even if you didn't know you were being given preferential treatment, it NEEDS to be covered in the media. It's not about your feelings - it's about the rich being given privileges that are not afforded to the lower classes and how that is UNACCEPTABLE.

I will not shed a tear for these celebrities, even if they didn't know the treatment they were receiving was different or biased, because shit like this NEEDS to come out, and inevitably, names will be named. It will be painful for these celebrities, but it absolutely has to happen. With further investigation into this school, it was inevitable that more names would come up.

Edited at 2018-02-08 08:17 am (UTC)
yxerin 8th-Feb-2018 03:21 pm (UTC)
mte. it kinda bothers me when i see ppl label these scandals as not "interesting enough", as if that's even the point. this is absolutely necessary even if it isn't "spicy" gossip

Edited at 2018-02-08 05:23 pm (UTC)
yixingsforehead 8th-Feb-2018 09:22 am (UTC)
"Before I posted this message, I thoroughly checked with a department professor once again about the details and regulations, as well as checked that graduation from the master’s program was determined by the judgement of a professor’s evaluation of a thesis, and also have the evidence from the students that the stated regulations do not exist."

ugh i want to go back to uni from september, but this entire letter brought back way too many bad memories lol

if he needs to be stripped of his master's, strip him of it, but don't act like he's the only one student receiving this treatment and brand jo kwon as the only bad person -- i so agree with this. witch-hunt is going to be on again, only for the system to remain the same, perpetuating the issue.

that being said...it wasn't celebrities, but damn i hated the kids who submit their essays weeks later the deadline, and still pass, even though i knew they didn't create the system lol
yxerin 8th-Feb-2018 12:56 pm (UTC)
what a fucking mess of a school. jo kwon's claim that he "sincerely tried hard more than anyone else" makes him lose any sort of sympathy he could've gotten from me though, got no time for hyperbolic rich boys
premonitioner 8th-Feb-2018 01:02 pm (UTC)
I laughed because he 'tried harder than anyone else...just like any other student' -
which is it?
yxerin 8th-Feb-2018 03:22 pm (UTC)
yeah like?? is it just a mistranslation or does he not know how language works lmao
jinkiestabi 8th-Feb-2018 05:18 pm (UTC)
It makes sense though. To me he’s saying, “I tried hard, just like other students who believed they tried hard”. That’s not wrong.
yxerin 8th-Feb-2018 05:27 pm (UTC)
eh, i think it's a bit of a weird sentence. feels contradictory at first read, if he meant to say what you're suggesting then he should've formulated it differently imo
lelouchikaru 8th-Feb-2018 02:12 pm (UTC)
This makes me want to encourage everyone not to enroll in this school if ever they want to
callherblondie 8th-Feb-2018 11:09 pm (UTC)
LOL this university sounds like my shitshow of a school/program.
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