It's Okay Not to Be Okay star Seo Ye Ji is currently at the center of several controversies in South Korea right now. For the past week, the K-drama actress has been involved in several issues, including a text message leak brought to light by ex-boyfriend Kim Jung Hyun's misbehavior on set, bullying accusations, and even allegedly lying about her educational background.
Ahead, we break down everything you need to know about why the actress is in hot water, and what has happened since then.
1. Seo Ye Ji's text messages allegedly "controlling" ex-boyfriend Kim Jung Hyun were leaked.
After dating rumors between Crash Landing on You stars Kim Jung Hyun and Seo Ji Hye spread, the controversy about the former's alleged rude behavior towards his Time co-star, Girls Generation's Seohyun, resurfaced online. The CLOY stars' agencies have since denied the dating rumors, but the discussions about Kim Jung Hyun's actions towards Seohyun continued.
The actor's alleged misbehavior supposedly involve him refusing to hold Seohyun's hand while walking down the aisle for a wedding scene, as well as declining to have any physical contact for photos during a press conference. Kim Jung Hyun also dropped out in the middle of filming for the show, citing health reasons, which led to major script revisions and the show wrapping without having a substitute.
Later on, Dispatch leaked text messages between Kim Jung Hyun and Seo Ye Ji, revealing that the two were in a relationship while the former was filming Time. The conversation makes it appear that Seo Ye Ji "controlled" the actor by demanding him to refuse any kind of skinship with Seohyun, and to have the script changed if it involved anything romantic—all of which he apparently agreed to, based on the messages. The exchange also shows Seo Ye Ji encouraging Kim Jung Hyun not to greet drama staff or make any eye contact with any women on set, and the actor has apparently sent videos to prove it as well.
Seo Ye Ji's agency Gold Medalist soon released a statement regarding the issue, referring to the messages as "common lovers' quarrel between actors who are dating." The agency also claims that Kim Jung Hyun had similar requests for Seo Ye Ji such as asking her not to film kissing scenes. They also condemned the release of the private conversations because of the misunderstandings they could cause. "It is realistically impossible that an actor can act and participate in filming without one’s own will," the statement reads. "Ultimately, we are deeply reflecting on having caused concern to many people due to personal immature feelings in a romantic relationship."
Kim Jung Hyun has since issued an apology for his behavior while filming Time. "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," he wrote.
2. Seo Ye Ji allegedly lied about graduating from a school in Spain.
The leaked messages between Seo Ye Ji and Kim Jung Hyun eventually snowballed into more controversies involving the actress. One of which is how she did not really study college in Spain, despite saying so during her guesting in the Korean variety show Knowing Brothers.
Her agency Gold Medalist also clarified this matter in their statement, saying the actress was admitted to Complutense University of Madrid, but was unable to attend the university because she began her activities in Korea.
3. Former staff and schoolmates have accused Seo Ye Ji of bullying.
Bullying allegations involving Seo Ye Ji have been brought to light as well. First, Korean netizens who claim to have been the actress' schoolmates accused Seo Ye Ji of bullying them by allegedly taking their money and hitting them. It's said that these accusations were already posted in online communities before, but were dismissed by fans because the photos posted did not look like Seo Ye Ji. That said, the victims allege that this was because the actress had plastic surgery. One victim even said they recognized her because of her unique voice. The actress' agency has since denied these bullying claims.
Another netizen who claims to have been Seo Ye Ji's former staff member has also come forward with bullying claims through the online portal Pann. They wrote that "verbal abuse was nothing" as they also allegedly suffered from actions such as Seo Ye Ji smoking in the car, checking their phones, and threatening them. "Anyone around her that worked with Seo Ye Ji gradually left because of the abuse. It was a really hellish time in my life," the user said.
4. Seo Ye Ji was reportedly replaced as the leading lady for the K-drama "Island."
The controversies surrounding the actress have had disastrous effects so far, one of which leading to Seo Ye Ji being replaced in the upcoming drama Island. Korea JoongAng Daily reports that the production team said that they had no choice but to recast the series' lead female role that Seo Ye Ji was supposed to play in light of all the negative publicities she's been receiving. In addition to the replacement, the script will also be modified and shooting will be delayed to July or August this year.
5. Brands have begun cutting ties with Seo Ye Ji.
Seo Ye Ji's It's Okay Not to Be Okay fame has helped her bag several advertising deals with brands. Unfortuntely, however, in light of the recent issues, many of these companies have reportedly been cutting their ties with her, even removing her photos from their social media pages. Some of which include health and lifestyle brand New Origin, mask brand AER, and cosmetics brand Luna.