Koreaboo, Kim Hyun-joong’s ex and how bad translation seriously misleads K-pop fans

As part of their ongoing legal battle, Kim Hyun-joong’s ex-girlfriend is set to stand trial in March accused of manipulating evidence and defaming Kim Hyun-joong. Yesterday, before she was actually charged, Korean news outlet OSEN published an “exclusive” leaked report detailing the prosecutor’s evidence and what she was due to be charged with. There could be arguments over whether it is responsible to report on this kind of information before the charges have actually been made but what was definitely irresponsible was the way Koreaboo misleadingly and inaccurately translated the report.

Firstly, for full context, here’s a version of one of the two reports linked to by Koreaboo which I have translated:

It has been reported prosecutors have secured evidence that actor Kim Hyun-joong’s ex girlfriend Ms. A manipulated evidence and lied about being pregnant.

According to OSEN on the 18th, during the criminal investigation process, prosecutors have been found to have secured evidence appearing to show Ms. A’s claims of a miscarriage resulting from an assault in May and an abortion are all false.

The prosecutor decided, after manipulating evidence by removing part of the content relating to a pregnancy test and miscarriage in Kakaotalk conversations about her self-reported pregnancy, assault and miscarriage, Ms. A lodged a civil suit seeking 16 hundred million won in damages against Kim Hyun-joong but Kim Hyun-joong counter-sued accusing her of attempted fraud in court.

Since then after turning the situation unfavourably against herself, prosecutors judged her to have committed libel against Kim Hyun-joong with a false interview saying she had had a miscarriage after Kim Hyun-joong’s assault.

It reported that Ms. A was never pregnant during the time she claimed to have been forced to have an abortion.

The Ministry of Justice ruled in the first trial last September that “Ms. A should  pay Kim Hyun-joong 100 million won” but Ms. A is currently appealing the decision.

Meanwhile Kim Hyun-joong will leaved the army and return to society on this coming February 11th.

What is being referred to in this article is not a crime that Ms. A has been found guilty of but evidence the prosecutor will be presenting to the court relating to crimes she was subsequently charged with. Crucially, this means these are all still just allegations and nothing has yet been proven or disproven in a court of law. Therefore if I were to write “Kim Hyun-joong’s ex-girlfriend manipulated evidence”, that would be potentially defamatory because that hasn’t been ruled on by a court yet. I would need to say “Kim Hyun-joong’s ex-girlfriend is alleged to have manipulated evidence” or “Prosecutors are said to have evidence showing Kim Hyun-joong’s ex-girlfriend manipulated evidence”.

The original report talks about "prosecutors" not "courts".

The original OSEN report talks about “prosecutors” not “courts”. A crucial difference.

Shortly after OSEN’s “exclusive” leak, Ms. A was officially charged. Here’s a short extract from a Chosun Ilbo article to show what a responsible report on that looks like.

Ex-Girlfriend Charged in Bitter Feud with Kim Hyun-joong

Prosecutors have charged the ex-girlfriend of singer-actor Kim Hyun-joong with attempted fraud and defamation.

The woman, surnamed Choi, is accused of fabricating text messages she exchanged with the actor and claiming that she had a miscarriage after he assaulted her.

Let’s compare this with Koreaboo’s article, shall we?

Firstly the headline:

[★BREAKING] Court Discovers Kim Hyun Joong’s Ex-Girlfriend Was Never Pregnant

If you didn’t already understand why this is plain wrong, I hope the rest of this article has made it clear. No evidence has yet to even been presented at court in this case so the court has not done anything . On top of that, it’s not the court’s place to “discover”, that’s the role of the prosecutor. Not only is this inaccurate, it gives the unfortunate impression that she was found guilty in court of submitting false evidence which, given that it is yet to be proven if that is true or not, is potentially defamatory.

Fraud is a serious crime. It’s easy in this kind of he-said-she-said case to lose track of how serious the allegations are but imagine if this was an attempted murder case instead where Ms. X was accused of stabbing Mr. Y. How would a headline of “Court Discovers Ms. X stabbed Mr. Y” or even “Court Discovers Ms. X owned knife used to stab Mr. Y” look? It reads like Ms. X has been found to be an attempted murderer before she’s even stood trial. What if the court ends up finding the evidence not compelling enough and clears her of the charges?

Now, let’s go into the article itself.

Kim Hyun Joong‘s ex-girlfriend accusations have been found to be completely false according to the Korean Prosecutor in new findings released today.

On January 18th, South Korean media outlet OSEN revealed exclusive details that shared more insight into Kim Hyun Joong’s ongoing court case against his ex-girlfriend.

The courts have revealed that multiple statements released by Kim Hyun Joong’s ex-girlfriend, “Miss Choi” have been proven to be false.

The middle paragraph here is the only one that isn’t potentially misleading. Just as the court does not generally discover things, the prosecutor doesn’t find things “to be completely false” – it’s usually the other way round.

But it’s the third paragraph that really highlights how little whoever translated this article understands about journalistic practices and the legal system. This article is based on a report by OSEN which in turn is based on information leaked to them by some kind of inside source. They are deliberately obscuring who released this information, presumably, to protect their source. (This is sometimes done for questionable reasons but it’s an extremely important journalistic freedom – just look to Watergate for the cliched example used in every introductory journalism class on the planet.)

In practice, this means the original report is written in a vague passive tense which is deliberately unclear about where this information is coming from. Most of the sentences say things like “It has been made known that…” or “It has been revealed that…”. Because the journalistic conventions are different to English it’s hard to translate in a way that doesn’t sound clunky and awkward, but that doesn’t mean that you can do what Koreaboo has done and attribute the information to “The courts”. There is nothing in the original article to indicate the courts were involved in releasing this information and it encourages the reader to give it more weight than the original Korean article does.

The final paragraph in this article makes the same mistake saying “according to the OSEN exclusive report, the following facts have been completely fabricated and are without truth” and then lists the prosecutor’s charges.

koreaboo idiots

The OSEN report does not say this. It says the PROSECUTORS say this.

The point here is not to prove that Kim Hyun-joong’s girlfriend or Kim Hyun-joong himself are guilty or not guilty of anything, that’s the court’s decision, it’s to show how misleading bad translations of Korean news reports can be.

To their credit, Soompi and even allkpop (yes, that allkpop) have managed to report this matter responsibly but Koreaboo needs to seriously look at how they translate and present information relating to serious court cases. Slight mistranslations of what someone said in an interview with a fashion magazine or an instagram post can be annoying and misleading but publishing inaccurate reports relating to serious crimes like fraud and domestic violence has consequences. It can make a potentially innocent (note potentially – it hasn’t been decided) person look guilty and seriously muddies the waters on important issues.

A lot of K-pop fans are young and understandably don’t have a full understanding of how the legal system works (hell, a lot of adults don’t either – especially the legal system of another country) and this particular case touches on a issues that will affect a significant number of them in some way in their lives. If Koreaboo wants to get a 15-year-old intern to translate idols’ social media posts about what they had for lunch today, that’s one thing, but if they are going to report on real news about serious and sensitive crime cases, they need to do so with the responsibility of a real news organisation.

Or one day, they might find themselves in trouble.

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  • http://www.asianjunkie.com/ Asian Junkie

    This is good stuff.

    • Rose

      It is good stuff. Too bad your own website doesn’t take it to heart. You have been bashing KHJ and banning people from your website who, no matter how they present evidence or opinions in the most polite way are put down and subjected to abusive language.
      I have never seen such malicious twisting of information or such foul mouths anywhere else.

      • http://www.asianjunkie.com/ Asian Junkie


  • Baby G

    Good observation. I wish they did the same when khj was to face his criminal charges back then. All the tabloid quoted reports from “un…” translator which resulted in confusion. Though he admitted to 1 count (in self defence) and accuited in 3 other counts of assault (no evidence) public still think of him as a abuser.

    • http://beyondhallyu.com/ Lizzie (beyondhallyu)

      He wasn’t acquitted in the original case. She dropped two of the charges after he admitted it and then he was found guilty of one other charge of assault which he admitted to. Those are two very different things.

      • Baby G

        No Lizzie thats the difference betweeh CRIMINAL charge and CIVIL suit. If you dropped CIVIL suit its dropped or you can settled thru litigation. But in CRIMINAL charges the police will continue to investigate to make sure the person who dropped the charges is not under DURESS i e is not forced, threaten or paid. KHJ was brought to court for 4 counts of assault/abuse. He was fined USD4K for admitting in self defense. And was accuited for the other 3 because there are no evidence. Note Choi never used the infamous bruises pic. Now in their CIVIL suits for one of the pregnancie/abortions its proven that Choi lied to khj thst she was under drugs waiting for the abortion procedure, even after the doctor had told her she was not pregnant and extort KRW100M from KHJ. This directyly proves she was not pregnant and no abortion caused by khj assault as per her claimed during khj criminal charges.. She even asked the doctor to lie for her. She went to get x ray as proved she suffered ribs fracture(in the early ruckus) as the results of an assault by and when asked if she was pregnant she denied, but at the same tine she claimed she was pregnant to another doctor. These are from the civil suits. Not once khj assaulting her was mentioned for this suit she claimed forced to abort by khj not assault. In this civil suit she claimed 3 pregnancies and forced abortions by khj. But the timeline for the 1st abortion cant be link to khj because the just met and it was mentioned she met other guys too. The 2nd from her kakao conversations with her best friend showed its her who wanted the abortion and the 3rd .. she was never pregnant. These are among facts that made Khj won the suit. Not in just one court but in 2 different courts and judges where both parties were given fair chances to provide evidences and to proved the authenticity of the evidences. These judges also mentioned in their verdicts that there were criminal elements in this case. Thats is why its no surprise that the police reopened the investigation and instead of blackmailing (which she had been accuited for not enough evidence) she was charged with attempted fraud and tampering of evidence. what the reporter did and wrote prior to Choi being formally charged were wrong like you said but what was mentioned were not new.

        • http://beyondhallyu.com/ Lizzie (beyondhallyu)

          Actually no, that is incorrect. The Korean law system is based on civil law where there is not as clear a distinction – the model you’re describing is a common law system. Many crimes in Korea are classified as “private crimes” which means the alleged victims can ask the prosecutors to drop the charges after agreeing a settlement with the accused. Assault is one such crime. See more here: http://askakorean.blogspot.co.uk/2011/04/what-is-all-this-about-blood-money.html The sexual assault examples you bring up are not relevant because criminal complaint is no longer required in those cases (as of 2013): https://klawguru.com/2013/06/14/korean-law-on-rape/

          So yes, in an assault case you can, and she did, drop charges in return for an out of court settlement. That means a court never decided if he committed assault. What was decided, however, is that he caused her bodily harm by fracturing her ribs which he admitted to and apologised for.

          If you read the prosecutor’s statement, it does not say he was cleared but rather that the charges were dropped because of the settlement. (And don’t try to tell me the translation is wrong here because I also read the original.)

          “Kim [Hyun Joong] stated that he had ‘no intentions of intentionally hitting her,’ and that he was ‘showing her his fighting skills when she was accidentally hurt,’ but the injuries on her body clearly indicate assault, and Kim Hyun Joong has been charged accordingly,” says the prosecution. “However, there was a settlement and letter of apology submitted, and upon consideration of those things, Kim Hyun Joong has been summarily indicted.” (https://www.soompi.com/2015/01/19/kim-hyun-joong-receives-fine-of-5-million-krw-for-assaulting-girlfriend/)

          No one anywhere ever talked about self defence in this case.

          • Baby G

            No Im not here to say who’s translation or who is right and who’s wrong but I am here to share information. Since you were referring to source dated back b4 the Blackmailing charge, b4 the Palimony suit and Civil suits rulings.. then there is nothing much to say. What you said was right for that period.

            But i still maintained that i read somewhere that the DA charged him for 4 counts. With 1 for conviction and the other 3 for mentioning but no charge. (Cant remember the exact legal term). Since there was not enough evidence.

            What were revealed during their legal battle thereafter, confirmed that KHJ made that *BLOOD MONEY* statement to save Choi’s face. At this time they got back together. He believed her fractured ribs and pregnancy claimed and there were marriege talk claimed by Choi. But when khj’s parents found out that, that was the only time she was ever pregnant (i.e the one with the baby) by khj as confirmed *by Choi’s parents* themselves. Khj hired a new lawyer to investigate. This was the time that khj learned about all the lies. Khj then denied her claimed that there were marriege talk. And hell broke loose. She sued him for Palimony i.e division of assets and properties under Common Law marriege and sued him for Defamation ect. And Khj made police report of that KRW500M blackmailing. And counter sue her for defamation too.

            Since then it had been revealed in court/s, that what actually happened was Choi broke into Khj house they quarrelled Khj tried to push her out and she turned physical. Khj said that he might had hit her during that pushing and shoving in self defense. Her bruises pictures were faked since they were never mentioned nor presented in court/s. But khj bruises, blue black nail and claw mark oh his neck were real, as can be seen in many video cams recorded by his fans during his concert. This was the only “hit” he admitted to the police.

            During Palimony Suit to prove that Choi did live in with khj (common law marriege), her best friend n close friends testified … but all they said were heresay i.e what was told by Choi to them i.e what was told to the medias too. The best friend admitted that she had never been to KHJ house when asked if she had seen any of Choi belongings in the house. Which meant what Choi said abt her being beaten to death by khj for 30 min infront of her best/close friend when she caught him naked with celebrity J (which she supported with the infamous bruises pictures to the media) was another lie. Note this pictures and celebrity J, were never mentioned nor presented in any court/s. She can’t prove the fractured ribs, so did the prior pregnancies, there were no forced abortions no abuse/assault. She lost in this the civil suits and in Palimony suit too.

            I feel with all these courts rulings, its not fair to still use the *BLOOD MONEY* statement and or the *DROPPED CHARGES* (if indeed dropped) to *CLAIM* ones *innocence* or *guilt*. After all, the “why” and “what” really transpired then were never opened in court to be questioned by both parties of its authenticity.

            I pray that a lot more will be revealed in the coming court proceeding and justice will be served to whomever it was due. Hope people can read OSEN KBS MBC and other prime media reports too besides the tabloids. You can search using the korean portal sites like Daum n Naver.

          • thomfrancess_374

            She dropped her case initially but it was still investigated by the police. If he had really committed a crime it wouldn’t matter if she dropped the case.

      • Baby G

        Read Park Yoo Chun and lee Jin Wook sex assault cases. Both accusers dropped their charges .. but the police still proceed to investigate and finally charged the accusers. This means no one can use police report for vengence abd no one can escape punishment after comitting crime.

    • Fanatic

      He is an abuser. This is exactly the point. You keep reading tabloids and misunderstanding cause the terminology of the law is too complex.

      Lizzie allready corrected you but it was his CLAIM that it was self defence, neither the prosecutor nor the judge believed him, as nobody gets convicted of self defense. Instead he got “summary sentenced” for assault. Summary sentencing is a form of fast tracking it through the court cause the criminal has admitted his guilt and there’s no contest of guilt.

      Absolute bottom line is that he’s a convicted womanbeater, and no amount of media play about future cases is gonna change that.

      • Guest

        I know this is a year old, but Lizzy is talking out of her ass about the court system in Korea and they don’t really have a self defense law. You cause an injury, you’re responsible for it.

    • Just another bagle girl

      did you even understand what this post just translated? or you choose to sound willful ignorant by stating as fact all the oposite to what korean courts actually did to him??

      • Baby G

        Unlike civil suit, in CRIMINAL charges even if you dropped the charges the police will still continue to investigate. This is to make sure that the person who makes the report is not under DURESS when dropping the charges i.e is not forced, threaten or paid. Hence this van ensure NO ONE will use police report as means for vengence and NO ONE can escape after comitting crime. This was what happened, KHJ was brought to court for 4 counts of assault/ abuse charges. He was fined USD4k for hitting in self defense and was accuited for the other 3. This is the problem with this site. If you notice only comments that agress to the writer were published .. checked back. I did try to bring court facts but ny comments were deleted.

  • Fanatic

    I’ll admit that these are actually breaches of the law and are flatout libel.

    However, lets not pretend like this is somehow new. Every trashy tabloid on the planet does this exact same thing for one simple reason. Human race is vengeful piece of shit who enjoys punishment and suffering as form of entertainment.

    It’s been going since public executions of ancient times. In today’s world, its the purposely misused criminal and legal terminology to suggest guilt in order to feed that vengeance mentality of an average reader.

    The “beauty” of this method is that, if someone does come knocking on their door with a libel suit, they can just point out that the legal technical term they used does not actually implicate anything and they can’t be held responsible if the average reader is dumb af and misunderstood what was written.

    This is a disease that has infected journalism on a massive scale ever since the internet was born and any average idiot can pretend to be a “journalist”.

    Though in this instance specifically, they failed to dance on that fine line and could be sued.

  • Comde

    This needs to spread more

  • Just another bagle girl

    i’m glad koreaboo changed completely their article … now its less confusing
    idk if it was your article or not but i hope they stop trying to make clickbaits

  • http://beyondhallyu.com/ Lizzie (beyondhallyu)

    Note: If you include her name in your comments, they will be deleted. No discussion.

  • https://www.viki.com/users/vacheluna_269 Campanelle

    Stellar article which I dearly wish you would update with the latest info, that the judge only fined her, for one “lie.” Nothing else! A Chinese blogger wrote that the judge made a statement that KHJ had to bear some responsibility for the mess, but the fan girls won’t believe it, because it does not fit their narrative. Unfortunately, there is no way to verify this, which gives them leeway to spew fake news that the court was “lenient” towards Choi due to her single mom status. What is the truth?

    • Guest

      Why is “lie” in quotations? She literally admitted to making false claims about a forced abortion after no medical reports about the pregnancy could be found and then there was a medical report where she put her period date BEFORE her supposed abortion. She was cleared of defamation charges despite being found guilty of fraud and the judge even admitted she edited the texts. The judge didn’t think it made a difference. That is being lenient and it is likely due to her single mom status as Korea doesn’t like to put them in jail.

      • https://www.viki.com/users/vacheluna_269 Campanelle

        I do not know if she admitted to lying or if because she had no proof it was considered a lie. And I do not know if she made a mistake on the forms with the dates. For me the pregnancy test pictures are all test results with one faint line and one dark line that are identical to women who have chemical pregnancies. It is not coincidence.

        The editing was found not to have altered the texts in her favor, so since it created no change of substance it was dismissed by the judge.

        If you write a post here, you can go back at a later date to edit it. I have done it many times, because I spot various mistakes typos, misspellings, missing words, comma faults. I correct them, which does not in any substantive way change the meaning of what I wrote. That is key in this. Did the editing change the texts to benefit her? The judge decided they did not.

        No mention is made in court that this woman has a history of illegal activity or shaking men down either. I read lots of comments that she was going down for evil ways. Yet, no history was presented.

        Finally, I read lots of comments about her being a “terrible mother” with no proof. I expected that to come out in the case as well. But it did not. In fact, it seems that the court thinks she is doing a great job and wants to help her stay with her child. Otherwise the court would have seized this as an opportunity to put her away.

        • Guest

          She admitted to lying. That’s why she was convicted of attempted fraud. Most of your comment has nothing to do with what I said. Facts are she lied and gave an interview knowing she was lying. That IS defamation so why was she cleared? Secondly, the edited pregnancy picture couldn’t be verified if it was unedited or not, but it was mentioned it was suspicious. (An expert had said it looked she had taken the picture but the prosecutor was also able to replicate the same thing doing a screen shot using the exact same phone model.) As for the edited texts, 1) when submitting evidence you shouldn’t be editing your evidence period. There’s no justifiable reason to be spellchecking the texts. There’s no reason for editing anything. She submits what she has end of story.
          As to thr irrelevant parts of your comment, why the hell would a criminal court suddenly take away custody in a country that’s terrible at protecting children? There’s literally a charity dedicated to kids whose parents get sent to prison and the kids end up forgotten and fending for themselves and unable to ask for help due to stigma.

          • https://www.viki.com/users/vacheluna_269 Campanelle


          • Guest


        • thomfrancess_374

          She literally apologized for lying