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.”
안녕하세요 조권입니다. 저는 경희대학교 포스트모던음악학과에 09학번으로 입학하여, 연예인이라는 신분으로 완벽하진 않았어도 모든 학생분들과 마찬가지로 학업에 최선을 다하기 위해 누구보다 성실하게 노력하였습니다. 4년동안의 노력의 결과로 학부를 졸업하고 대학원 석사과정에 입학하는 영예를 얻었고 석사과정의 경우에도 대학생활과 마찬가지로 성실히 임하고 노력했지만 졸업 후 돌아오는 결과는 저도 무척 당혹스럽습니다. 대학원 생활에서 저의 학업에 대한 부분을 성실함으로 인정해주시는 교수님도 계셨고, 누구보다 열심히 노력해도 인정 해주지 않으시는 교수님도 계셨습니다. 소위말해 학생이 아닌 연예인의 잣대로 평가하는 분들도 계셨습니다. 그런 개인적인 직업의 특수함에 어려움도 있었지만 많은 교수님들, 원우생분들은 감사하게도 저를 좋아해주셨어요. 저는 나름 연예인이라는 특수성을 벗겨내고 성실함을 인정 받았었다고 생각했었습니다. 저는 저의 연예인이라는 특수성으로 저의 노력과 열정이 가득했던 대학시절을 절대 더럽히고 싶지 않습니다. 보통과 똑같다 생각했습니다.학업에 열중하고 성실했던 학생이라면 누구나 공감 할 수 있는 부분이라고 생각합니다. 저는 제가 경희대학교,대학원을 졸업하여 학위를 받은 것에, 연예인이라는 특수성으로 얻은 결과물이 아니라 학교측에서 저한테 주신 과제를 열심히 이행 하였습니다.지금 이 글을 쓰며 해명 해야 하는 상황이 온것에 대해 굉장히 마음이 안좋습니다. 포스트모던음악학과 학부과정도 성실하게 마쳤으며, 그 성실성과 학구열을 인정받아 학부 재학 중에 한 번은 과수석 장학금을 받은 적도 있었습니다. 논란이 되고 있는 대학원 졸업과 관련해서는 경희대학교 아트퓨전디자인대학원의 경우 학위논문과 비논문학위(졸업공연) 두 가지의 방법 중에 졸업 인증 방법을 선택할 수 있습니다. 저는 졸업공연으로 비논문학위를 신청하여 졸업하였고, 논문 심사일에도 심사에 참석하였습니다. 최근에 발생한 사건으로 인해 연예인이라는 직업상의 특혜에 대한 내용들을 전해 들어 알고 있습니다. 루머와 가쉽거리는 연예인이 가진 당연한 숙명이나 이런 설명까지 드려야하는 것이 참으로 안타깝기만 합니다. 현재 학과 교수님들간 여러 음모와 갈등이 있는 것으로 대충 알고 있습니다. 내부의 부정부패를 뿌리 뽑겠다는 명목의 시작된 권력 다툼이 결국 자신의 학생들과 학교를 엉망으로 만들어 놓고 계신거 아닌지요? 저는 심지어 그 교수님들의 수업도 열심히 들은 학생이고 제자입니다. 인기를 안고 사는 연예인의 숙명은 최소한의 권리도 가질수 없는 것인가요? 어떻게 이런식으로 화제를 만들어 이렇게 상처를 주시는지요.. 졸업 하려면 수천만원을 들여서 졸업공연 해야한다니요..? 최종 논문 심사 때 졸업 공연에 관한 포스터와 팜플렛을 지참하여 참석했을 때 당시 심사 교수님들 중 어느 분도 제게 비논문학위(졸업공연)의 학과 내규에 대해서 말씀하신 적이 없었습니다. 행정 부서에 관련 확인 서류를 제출할 때도 졸업 공연에 관한 학과 내의 내규가 있다는 사실도 그것에 어긋난다는 안내도 받지 못했습니다. 그 사실을 알았다면 저는 당연히 내규를 충족하는 공연을 했을 것입니다. . 2016년도 공연으로 졸업한 학생분 전임교수 였던 교수님이 만드신 내규는 저도 지금 들어보니 학교 행정,그리고 그외 교수님들께도 공유되지 않은 내규라고 하시더군요.참고로 2017년 졸업당시 저의 전임교수님은 2016년도 전임교수님이 아니셨습니다. 그리고 수천만원 안들여서 한 공연은 엉터리 공연인가요..?아트퓨전디자인대학원 홈페이지에서도 관련 내규 확인이 불가하고.,논문공개발표 신청과 비논문학위를 신청할 때조차 학과 내규에 관한 사항이 안내된 것이 없습니다. 홈페이지에 공지되어 있는 비논문학위 신청의 자격에 부합하여 비논문학위(졸업공연)로 신청한 것입니다.저 뿐만 아니라 다른 대학원생들조차 내규 여부에 대한 사실을 모르고 있던걸로 알고있습니다. 공표된 내규가 있었다면 당연히 알았겠죠. 전 저의 2017년 학교에서 제출해주신 졸업에 관한 의무를 다 지켰다고 생각했습니다. 저는 대학원 재학 기간 동안 최선을 다해 학업 생활을 해왔습니다. 마지막학기 때 논문학위와 비논문학위 중 선택해서 졸업할 수 있다는 사실을 알았고, 비논문학위로 선택할 수 있는 자격요건이 충족되기에 저에게 더 맞는 방법을 선택하였습니다. 뉴스 인터뷰에서의 기존 졸업공연으로 졸업한 학생분의 경우 까다로웠다고 진술했던 내규는 학교 홈페이지에서 학사 공지 게시판의 학위논문 신청과 비논문학위 신청서만
게시 되어있었고, 비논문학위 신청 자격여부 외에 졸업공연에 관한 내규는 공지 되지 않았습니다. 결국엔 심사 당일에 계셨던 전임교수님들과 행정부서에서도 잘 모르고 있는 학과 내규라는게 존재할 수 있는 것인지요? 버스킹이라는 타이틀이었고,버스킹은 자유롭게 공연을 하는것 입니다.저는 수천만원을 들이지 않았기에 화려하게 공연을 하진 못했습니다. 졸업심사 발표당시, 교수님들께 프리젠테이션 진행중 공연 날짜에 대한 양해를 부탁 드렸고,그 누구도 이렇게 하면 졸업을 못한다 라는 말씀없이, 추후에 교수확인용으로 영상제출을 하라고 하셨습니다.5/6 sns 부산 사진은 5/5에 가서 이미 다녀온후 업로드한 사진이며, 경희대 노천극장에서 공연을 한것은 사실이고 , 조작된 영상은 아닙니다. 8000석이나 되는 노천극장에서,조명과 큼직한부분을 사용하지 않고,소규모공연으로 교수님 제출용으로 공연을 하여 학교에 대관문의를 해야하는 부분은 인지를 잘 못하고 있었습니다. 저 뿐만 아니라 저와 함께 석사과정을 공부했던 다른 대학원생들조차 내규 여부에 대한 사실을 모르고 있었습니다. 학과 내에서 모든 대학원생들이 공공연하게 알고 있는 공표된 정식 내규가있었다면 제가 바보가 아닌이상 내규데로 수천만원을 들여 졸업준비를 했을 것입니다. 하지만 전 학교측으로부터 전달 받은데로 성실히 졸업관련해여 준비를 했을뿐입니다. 학교 열심히 다니는것은 학생의 당연한 의무이지, 열심히 다녔다고만해서 졸업 한 것이 아닙니다.sbs8시뉴스로 기사내신 기자님,2016년도 졸업학생분의 동의도 없이 공연영상을 함부로 사용하고,수천만원까진 안들였다는데 학교도 모르는 정확한 내규가 도대체 무엇인가요.? 학교 동기분들한테 제보가 저한테도 왔고,내규가 없다는 교수님의 녹취록,뉴스에보도된 졸업생분이 기자님이 너무 부풀려서 뉴스보도를 했다는 캡쳐본도 다 가지고 있습니다. 누가봐도,기자님과 교수님들의 포커스는 학교의 더 깊숙한 내부에 관련된 부분인것같은데 오늘 뉴스만 봐도 왜 제가 희생양이 되어야 합니까.. msg 추가해서 기사 쓰시는 기자님, 대중분들은 자극적 기사만보고 보이는데로 반응할 수 있을진 몰라도, 정말 다른건 몰라도,저의 대학교,대학원 시절 동기들과 제가 열심히 수업 들었던 교수님들은 연예인이 아닌 학생으로서 성실히 학교에 최선을 다했다라는걸 누구보다 잘 알아주실거라 믿습니다. 그리고,저의 지난 대학시절이 한순간으로 엉터리,조작으로 되어버린 부분에 너무나 고통스럽습니다. 많은 분들께 심려를 끼쳐드려 고개숙여 진심으로 죄송합니다.
처음 저에 관한 기사가 나올 것이라 예고 받았을 때부터 저는 제 소신을 밝히기 위해 준비하고 있었습니다. 저의 학업과 관련하여 전소속사와 현소속사 직원 분들께도 입장을 난감하게 해드린 것 같아 너무 죄송한 마음입니다. 그 동안 왜곡될까 염려되어 그 어떤 인터뷰하지 못했습니다. 저는 심경글을 밝히기 전에 세부세칙과 학과 내규의 유무에 관한 사실을 다시 한번 학과 교수님을 통해 면밀히 확인하였고, 석사 학위의 논문심사가 심사교수님들의 재량에 따라 졸업여부가 결정이 된다는 부분에 대한 확인과 공시된 내규가 존재하지 않는다는 학생분들의 증거도 가지고 있기에 비로서 저는 저의 입장을 분명히 밝히게 되었습니다. 저의 졸업공연 준비 당시 어느 누구도 내규의 대하여 설명 없었습니다. 저는 제가 준비하는 과정들이 당연히 정상 절차를 따르고 있다고 생각하고 임하였습니다. 경희대학교에서 먼저 입장발표를 해주실줄 알았지만, 그렇지 않아 답답해하시는 분들을 위해 이렇게나마 저의 심경을 전하게 되었습니다. 저는 부족하지만 좋은 영향력을 가진 사람이 되기위해 지금도, 앞으로도 최선을 다할 것이지만, 보이지 않는 권력 앞에선 아무것도 하지못하는 지금의 현실이 안타깝습니다. 큐브엔터테인먼트의 입장 발표처럼 저의 추후 영상제출 불찰로 인한 결과는 어떻게 되든지 겸허히 받아들이겠습니다. 하지만 엉터리로 공연하지 않았으며 진심을 다해 노래하였습니다. 영상을 제출하라는대로 학교 측에 전했습니다. 조작이라고 생각하고 찍었다면 너무 악의적이지 않나요? 저는 지금것 가수가되기전 가수가 된 후 지난 저의 삶을 되돌아보며 그래도 잘 하고 있다 라고 생각했습니다. 더 잘해야지 라기 보단 이만큼 했음 잘했다 스스로 토닥이며 걸어왔습니다. 많은 분들에게 심려를 끼쳐 드려 다시 한 번 죄송합니다. 단독으로 보도하신 기자님, 저의 번호를 어떻게 아셔서 며칠전 직접 전화를 수차례하셨는지요. 물론 기자님으로 인해 부풀려진 내용들이 학교내 누군가를 통해서였을테고 제보된 깊은 내막은 모르셨겠지요. 보도를 통해 세상에 알려진 내용대로 믿는 분들도 계시겠지만, 학교내 들리는 소문으로인한 보도로 얻는 정확한 목표가 무엇인지요. 제가 알고 있는 부분이 그냥 소문인지 진실인진 저도 잘 모릅니다. 분명한건 지금 학교는 정상적이지 않게 흘러가고 있고 학생들과 특정 연예인들이 희생양이 되고 있다는 것이 팩트입니다. 저도 억울한 부분이있어 사회부 기자님의 펜과 필력을 부정하고 싶었지만, 부정의 앞에서 펜을 꺾지 않는다는 그 신념 지켜주시길 저도 바랍니다.
Editors note: As with all translations, we try our best to remain true to what is actually written, even if there might be ambiguity and errors in grammar and structure in the original Korean that leads to confusion. This is a developing story, with more clarifications likely to come out.