South Korean actor Nam Joo-hyuk may not have been a bully in his younger days after all.
He was in the news recently after he was accused by two anonymous persons of being one when he was in middle and high school, allegations which have been denied by his agency Management Soop.
The bullying claims against Nam came after he starred in the recent hit romantic drama Twenty Five Twenty One with actress Kim Tae-ri, and his performance was widely lauded.
Now, the 28-year-old actor appears to be vindicated by a report in media outlet Dispatch on Tuesday (July 5).
It interviewed 18 former students and two teachers, most of whom were willing to disclose their surnames, with four of them even revealing their full names.
Three former students, identified by the surnames Shin, H and L, told Dispatch they doubted the bullying allegations against Nam.
"Corporal punishment was severe in school then. It was a very strict environment," H and L were quoted as saying.
"There was no bullying culture in school. The bully would look strange if he tried to create such an atmosphere in school," said another former student identified as Y1.
The two accusers' allegations against Nam included forcing victims to run errands and wrestle, as well as using victims' mobile phones to make payments.
L, who was also Nam's ex-classmate, acknowledged the existence of wrestling in the school, but said Nam did not take part in them.
"It has absolutely nothing to do with Nam," L said. "Honestly, how can you 'force' someone to wrestle? How can you force a fight?"
The former students who were interviewed said the mobile phone incident was wrongly pinned to Nam, as it was another student who stole a teacher's mobile phone and used it to make payments.
One of the teachers, Park Tae-gyu, even said he was willing to risk his teaching career to speak up about the issue.
"When Nam was a student at our school, corporal punishment still existed, with even the female teachers carrying rods," he said. "Therefore, bullying could not have happened in any way."
The other teacher, Hong Seong-man, said the only bad point about Nam was that he was always late.
"He would be told by the teacher to squat and jump. He was not resentful and did not resist the punishments," he said. – The Straits Times/Asia News Network