Earlier this year, Hyunjoo’s younger brother made an online post alleging that the reason she left the group in 2016 was that she was bullied by the other members.Another individual claiming to be Hyunjoo’s high school classmate made similar allegations in a second post that went into more detail about the alleged bullying.
DSP Media—which currently houses both APRIL and Hyunjoo—responded with multiple statements denying the allegations. After Hyunjoo’s younger brother made another post contradicting their denials, the agency announced that they would be taking legal action—both criminal and civil—against Hyunjoo and the people who had posted the allegations online.
On April 18, Hyunjoo took to Instagram to share her first personal statement about the situation.
⚠️Trigger Warning ⚠️: Suicide, Difficult descriptions on the bullying
Her full statement is as follows:
Hello, this is Lee Hyunjoo.
Throughout the many situations that arose coincidentally, I was very scared of releasing my own statement.
Even now, I am very afraid.
At the moment, my agency has only released statements that are different from the truth, and they have sued my younger brother, who is still a young student, and my acquaintances.
The parents of the perpetrators have also sent me and my parents text messages of blame.
It’s true that I hesitated for a long time because I was scared of how they would make me suffer if I released a statement in my own voice.
However, in spite of that, for the sake of the people who showed courage for me and the people who supported me, I felt like I needed to finally muster the courage now at least, which is why I’m writing this.
The bullying began in 2014, when I was preparing for my debut, and continued until 2016, when I left the group. I, who was 17 years old at the time, had to live in a dorm while preparing to debut, so I had to spend 24 hours a day with the perpetrators in a place where there was no one I could lean on.
Unable to endure it any longer, I told my parents about my suffering, and my parents tried talking to the CEO [of my agency]. However, I repeatedly found myself in a situation where I was blamed instead. After the perpetrators found out about this, they tormented me even more. I was only allowed to call my parents briefly and in front of our manager, and in these kinds of ways, the situation became worse, and I kept feeling smaller and smaller.
What has become public knowledge is only a small fraction of what took place.
During those three years, I was forced to suffer because of violent actions and behavior, ridicule, swearing, and attacks on my character, and it was especially painful to bear groundless insults and attacks on the character of my precious grandmother, mom, dad, and younger brother. The agency knew about this, but only looked on without taking any measures to respond.
Because of this, I fell into a darkness of which I could not see the end, and I made an extreme decision, but it did not look as though they felt anything or felt even the slightest bit apologetic. Using the reason that my agency one-sidedly prepared for me, I ended up leaving the group, and as a result, I had to face repeated malicious comments, ridicule, and even the stigma of being a traitor.
Because I felt like it was my fault that I had given my family unerasable scars, I tried to live more diligently, positively, and healthily.
However, even after time had passed, it wasn’t easy to forget the memories of my hardships.
The dark memories of that time remained in a corner of my heart, and they became a trauma that seemed like it would swallow me whole.
I had to go through a difficult time in which I negatively affected not only myself, but the people around me.
While I was going through that, the people around me mustered a great deal of courage on my behalf, which is how we arrived at the present situation.
Now I am also trying to muster up courage for my younger brother and acquaintances.
As a result of this experience, I have learned that there are many people who are cheering me on and for whom I am grateful.
Thanks to the people who worry about me and ask me how I’m doing each and every day, I was able to gain strength.
I also learned that there are many people who are suffering from emotional wounds that are similar to mine.
It seems like the bullying and ostracism we suffer when we are young stays with us as trauma.
I think it’s impossible for everyone in the world to get along with me, and hateful feelings can naturally develop at times. However, I don’t think violence or bullying can be justified for any reason. I believe that ostracism and bullying against anyone, anywhere must disappear no matter what.
Although I am still struggling with the trauma and memories of that time even now, after seven years have passed, I believe I mustn’t resign myself to the fact that I can’t recover and live my life unhappily.
That’s why I want to show the people who have gone through similar pain to my own that victims can also recover from their wounds and live happily and healthily again.
I also want to repay the people who are rooting for me by showing them that I have overcome this situation.
I sincerely thank you for giving me lots of support and strength.
You have given me a great deal of courage.
At the moment, all my activities through my agency have been halted, and any new work that has been offered to me has been one-sidedly rejected without consulting me. The agency has also stated that they cannot terminate my exclusive contract.
From now on, I will no longer stand by without taking action to protect myself, my family, and my acquaintances.
I will also respond to the criminal lawsuit my agency has filed against me with the help of the people who are supporting me.
Although it won’t be easy, I will try to show you that I have recovered through a wide array of activities and a new, healthier, and brighter side of myself, after I wrap this up well and leave my difficult past behind.
For both myself and all the people reading these words, I hope that the rest of the month will be happy and warm.
* Hyunjoo debuted with April with members Somin, Naeun, Yena, Jinsol, and Chaewon. Current members Chaekyung and Rachel are not involved as they debuted after Hyunjoo left.
Source: @hyun.joo_lee, Translation by E.Cha