Actor Jo Min Ki was forced to resign from his acting professor position at Cheongju University after a sexual harassment case against him was reported by students.
Jo Min Ki has been a professor at the university’s Department of Theatre since 2010. He starred in several Korean TV series and movies, one of the latest being the widely beloved Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo.
An anonymous exposed Jo Min Ki and his sexual harassment allegation through a post that questioned why this case is not receiving any press attention. Though the post is now deleted, it brought a lot of attention to the case.
Cheongju University later explained that the university received multiple reports of Jo Min Ki’s sexual harassment from the Department of Theater students.
The school began investigating in late November 2017.
Students revealed that he would invite them over to his house late at night after getting drunk.
“He personally contacted me late at night after getting drunk. He has a room near Cheongju, and he told me to come there…” — Victim
He would then get them drunk and insist they sleepover, which then he would touch them under their clothes.
“I once drank with Professor Jo Min Ki at his house and he told me to sleepover. He asked a lot of female students to sleep over before. I was too drunk to make it home, so I decided to pretend to fall asleep until I was sober enough to go home. I laid on the bed when he laid down next to me and put his hand under my clothes. I was so scared that I couldn’t move. I pretended to be asleep and turned to the other side. He fell asleep with his hand still touching me under my clothes.” — Victim
He also allegedly talked about sex freely in front of them, even kissing and touching them frequently.
“He would kiss his students on the lips or face when we all drank together, hold our hands, and touch our thighs. He did this countless times. He even asked my friend, ‘You had sex with [your boyfriend]. Did you like it?'” — Victim
After investigating more students’ claims, the case was referred to a disciplinary committee. At this point, Jo Min Ki filed an intent of resignation with the university. The committee rejected his resignation and instead suspended him for three months.
After a board of directors’ meeting in January, the university decided to accept Jo’s resignation.
He is scheduled to be officially dismissed on February 28th.
In an interview regarding his scandal, Jo Min Ki claimed that he did not sexually harass any student and that the accusations are blatant rumors and misunderstanding.
“I would tap the students’ chests to teach them to act with their hearts, but some students reported that as me purposefully touching their breasts… After going to karaoke, I’d give my students hugs as a form of encouragement.” — Jo Min Ki
However, when his interview surfaced, actress Song Ha Neul came forward and posted a long statement about the allegation on her Facebook. She gave a very detailed account of what happened, about how she and her classmates suffered countless occasions of Jo Min Ki harassing his female students.
“I am a rookie actress who just debuted in Daehakro (small theater community) after graduating from Cheongju University’s acting department. I tried to forget it but I became so enraged by Professor Jo Min Ki’s claim that he’s innocent. These aren’t ‘rumors without victims’ or ‘a preplanned plot from unspecified power’. I, along with my friends and countless other students had to face this for years. I’m not stupid enough to not know the difference between encouragement and harassment. What my friends, fellow students and I faced was blatant sexual harassment. I was too scared to come forward before and I’m still scared coming forward now. But I’m more scared that if I stay quiet, this will die down and more victims will suffer like me in the future. That’s why I’m getting up the courage to write this.
Ever since I entered the school in 2013, my seniors told me to be careful around Professor Jo Min Ki. It was a known fact around school that Professor Jo Min Ki sexually harassed his students. But he was an important figure in the University’s acting department and in the industry, so no one was able to stand up or report him. As a celebrity and a successful actor, he was the King of the campus.” — Song Ha Neul
However, Jo Min Ki’s agency denied all charges and reported that Jo Min Ki voluntarily resigned after learning about the students’ charges.
“Beginning of last year, Jo Min Ki became aware of unfortunate rumors about him and asked the university to investigate. When the university came to the conclusion that some of Jo Min Ki’s teaching methods are not suitable for the courses he teaches. The university suspended him for three months. With that, Jo Min Ki voluntarily resigned, feeling morally responsible for his actions.” — Will Entertainment