You might want to hold off on the torches and pitchforks there


So, from ScandalLand, we now have some kid named Han Jong Yeon from Produce 101 being accused of being a terrible bully in elementary and middle school.

Of course it sounds really bad–assuming a word of it is true.

Honestly, I’m a little confused by how easily people believe this stuff; people are actually saying things like “Why would someone lie about this???” as though no one has ever lied about this kind of thing before. I’m sorry to tax people’s memories by bringing up The Ancient History of 2015 here, but I seem to recall the last time the Horrible! School! Sex! Bully! thing came up, it turned out to be the invention of someone who was lying about 1. their age, 2. their gender, and 3. everything else.

I’m also not quite sure why screenshots provided by the accuser are being considered as Holy Writ. This may shock you, but sometimes in K-Pop, people invent things.

Do I know that this accusation is a lie? Of course not. But here’s the thing–even if every word is true, you’re talking about someone trying to punish somebody else for what they did as a child.

Now, obviously, I think bullying is bad, and if the accuser actually went through everything they are claiming they went through, I think that was really terrible.

However: He’s an adult, blaming a kid for what happened to him. Back in elementary and middle school.

Hey, here’s a true story: When I was in middle school, one of my classmates was someone who went on to have quite the storied career as a singer! She is extremely beloved by lots and lots of people.

She was a bitch to me, though–the standard-issue Mean Girl shit, including humiliating me in front of people.

Here’s another true story: When I was in high school, one of my classmates went on to found a company that became a pretty high-profile firm.

In high school, though, he was a . . . wait for it . . . wait for it . . . Nazi! No lie! He wasn’t just racist or right wing–a Nazi. And a PROUD Nazi–he let everyone know (the more people the better!) that he just loved Hitler!

I went on to become a reporter in New York City, where both these people ended up, with their high-profile careers.

Guess what? I never “outed” them. I never even seriously considered it!

Why not?

Because they were kids!!! Seriously, the Mean Girl was 13 years old! Who wasn’t a bitch at that age? And the Proud Nazi was, in my estimation, the Emotionally-Disturbed Teenage Boy Who Is Being An Attention Whore.

It’s not like I was so perfect, either: Rest assured, in elementary school I did not understand that reading was not as easy for everyone else as it was for me. In fact, I once spotted another kid’s report card and said, “You got a D in reading? You must be dumb!

I said it to his face, and I said it in front of people. Kids are assholes!

And yes, what Han is being charged with is much more serious. But this kind of thing always raises one question for me: WHERE WERE THE ADULTS???

My sister works in schools with special-needs kids. Stuff like:

And even with our teacher present, [Han] fought with [censored] and [censored] kept getting hit[.]

He was the typical school bully, the school’s problem child. He undermined the teachers and kids in his class, picked on them, and would even throw his fists at anyone who touched him.

Is pretty fucking par for the course when you’re talking about these kinds of kids–they often have behavioral problems, and sometimes those problems are quite severe. Which is why my sister and everyone else who works in special education has a job in the first place: It’s the responsibility of the adults to ensure that “the school’s problem child” isn’t so much of a problem for everybody.

Unfortunately my impression of the Korean education system is that they tend not to handle special-needs kids very well.

That isn’t good for anyone–the special-needs kids suffer, and of course the other students also suffer if the special-needs kids are acting out in harmful ways.

Being all judgmental about problem kids is not helpful. It is definitely a human tendency–my sister often has to interrupt and redirect the “He’s just a bad kid!” comments coming from her fellow educators, even though they are experienced at dealing with these kinds of kids. But she does it, because it doesn’t do anyone any good to dismiss a problem kid as a bad kid who can’t possibly be helped. They usually can, and if they can’t (some kids have serious mental-health problems–we’re talking, hearing voices and all that–that are quite resistant to treatment), they can at least be put in a situation where they can’t harm the other students.

And, I’m sorry, with all due sympathy to anyone who was bullied by Han, I really can’t see taking the He’s just a bad kid! thing and applying it to a fucking adult. Is Han sexually assaulting people today? Is it possible that, even if he was a horrible bully as a kid, he might have figured out in the course of, you know, growing up that that’s not a good way to treat people?

ETA: And now more charges are being leveled against more contestants, which is doing nothing to reduce my skepticism. I mean, look at the Jung Joong Ji business: Assuming that every word is true (which is a BIG assumption), what happened, exactly? A young lady went on a bad date with Mr. Gropey. And instead of leaving–which according to her own account, she was free to do–she stuck around until the bitter end, and then she screencapped everything stemming from that disastrous evening in hopes of one day ruining her date’s career should he ever get his big break!

Yeah, that sounds reasonable. (Seriously: If you find yourself in that kind of situation–leave. Don’t let the guy take you home, get home on your own–the relationship isn’t going anywhere anyway. If he is a rapist, you’ll be safer; if he’s not a rapist, you’ll have given him a crystal-clear message about what is acceptable.)

EATA: The Iron business is just completely different–somebody got stabbed, and somebody got a bone broken. Those are facts, not screencaps. The police are involved, as well they should be.


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