Who is Kim Garam, and why did she leave LE SSERAFIM?

Image Via HYBE LABELS Youtube

In recent years, the demand for K-Pop content has constantly increased, especially with the popularization of the genre by third-generation groups Blackpink, BTS, and EXO. The number of companies – or labels – aiming to accommodate and help aspiring artists achieve their musical dreams and perform on the biggest stages in South Korea has also been growing. The fourth-generation groups have recently started to follow their seniors’ footsteps, with the newest stars’ popularity expanding throughout the internet. 

Joining Stray Kids, Ateez, and TXT, the most recent fourth-generation group to have debuted is LE SSERAFIM. Although it has only been a little over two months since their K-pop arrival, the girl group has had a number of controversies surrounding one of their members, Kim Garam, forcing the conjoined companies HYBE and Source Music to put an end to her contract. Here is everything you need to know about this young artist whose career ended before it started. 

Who is Kim Garam?

Born November 16, 2005, in Sangju, South Korea, Garam is a young singer who achieved stardom at the tender age of 16 when many were still struggling to juggle their free time with schoolwork. Prior to joining LE SSERAFIM, Garam had auditioned for Source Music. That would prove to be fruitless, as she wouldn’t be able to pass the first try out. Luckily, in 2019, HYBE purchased Source Music, giving Garam another opportunity to join the music industry by joining one of the largest companies in South Korea. 

Known for giving wings to powerhouses like BTS, TXT, and ENHYPHEN, HYBE and Source Music placed their efforts into birthing a new girl group in K-pop, creating a new chance for young girls to pursue their dreams. With this newfound opportunity, Garam finally passed the audition and debuted as the main vocalist alongside members Chaewon, Sakura, Yunjin, Kazuha, and Eunchae. However, only 79 days after joining the KPOP group, Garam was forced to leave all her dreams behind and return to her old life. 

Why did Kim Garam leave LE SSERAFIM?

Not long after the news was revealed that Garam would join LE SSERAFIM, allegations of school bullying began to mount against the singer. Those claims were immediately denied by Source Music and HYBE, who defended the K-pop star by stating the accusations were meant to slander Garam, adding that the 16-year-old was, in fact, a victim of school bullying herself, bringing the rumors to a halt for a time. 

Nearly a month later, new evidence against Garam arose, this time with a picture of a seemingly official school violence committee document being released with Garam listed as the main perpetrator. Despite the bullying claims, HYBE’s stance on the matter did not shift. As HYBE has done in other cases of defamation involving their artists, the company pursued legal action against those the company said slandered the singer’s name and reputation.

HYBE’s opinion of Garam would eventually change on May 19, when an alleged victim came forward with her legal representative, claiming she had been forced to transfer schools and received counseling due to Garam’s behavior. Allegedly, the student also had to drop out of her new school due to severe anxiety, panic attacks, and even a suicide attempt, all of which were alleged repercussions from the time she shared with the K-pop star. The law firm representing the student also threatened HYBE, stating that if the company’s stance didn’t change, and if they remained unapologetic towards the student, the firm would release the results of the Autonomous Committee for Countermeasures Against School Violence, including an outline of the case against Garam. 

“If HYBE continues to maintain their position that ‘the allegation is malicious abuse and Kim Garam is the victim’ without a sincere apology [to Daeryun], this law firm will protect the minor victim as a result of the violence included in the case summary. We will disclose the full text of the notice if needed.” 

Later that same day, HYBE released a statement explaining that the company decided to proceed cautiously due to both parties involved being underage, and stating they would re-examine the information provided and take action accordingly. Source Music and HYBE also urged journalists to refrain from sharing malicious information, as nothing has yet been proved nor decided. 

“Since Daeryun has organized and announced the part of the matter that actually occurred in 2018 in an advantageous manner, we’d like to say that we will also organize our stance and announce it as soon as possible. Therefore, we please ask that journalists refrain from reporting based only on one side’s argument.”

On May 20, Source Music tweeted an official statement regarding Garam, in which they officially placed the singer on hiatus from group activities as a consequence of the allegations made against her, claiming the girl group would continue on with the remaining five members. On July 20, Garam’s contract was terminated, and she was permanently removed from the group. 

As to the singer’s whereabouts, Garam has since returned to school, but with several consequences on the way. On July 30, an image started circulating online. The picture was allegedly of Garam’s desk at school, which had been vandalized with several insults and slurs directed at the former LE SSERAFIM member. 

While it is too soon to tell, it seems HYBE’s hesitation regarding girl groups has been justifiable, as LE SSERAFIM’s first controversy started even before its debut, and it’s not the company’s first round of public relations nightmares.

LE SSERAFIM is HYBE’s second attempt at forming a girl group under their name. In 2012, HYBE debuted GLAM, and right away it was proven to be a step on the wrong stone with controversies following them from the start. One of the members, Dahee,  was involved in a money extortion scheme, in which she accused popular actor, Lee Byung Hun, of abuse, with the intention of blackmailing the innocent actor. Just before Dahee’s scandal, another member, Trinity, was allegedly an obsessive stalker, also known as a “sasaeng,” who reportedly followed Super Junior’s Leeteuk. Although it was never confirmed, Trinity left the group as soon as the news broke.