South Korea cancels K-Pop stars’ diplomas for non-attendance

They might have legions of adoring fans, but seven famous K-Pop stars have fallen foul of South Korea’s Ministry of Education.

The popular entertainers, who are all male, have officially had their college diplomas revoked because they were busy rehearsing and performing when they should have been in class.

Education bosses discovered that the individuals in question, folk singer-songwriter Chu Ga-yeol, three members of the boy band Highlight — Lee Gi-kwang, Yong Jun-hyung, Yoon Doo-joon — as well as their former bandmate Jang Hyun-seung, and Seo Eun-kwang and Yook Sung-jae from boy group BTOB, had not attended enough classes to fulfill the requirements for graduation.

Their identities were reported by the Korea Times and confirmed to CNN by a South Korean official. CNN has requested comment from their representatives.

An inspection by the Ministry of Education revealed that the celebrities were signed up to the broadcasting and entertainment department of Dongshin University, situated approximately 190 miles from the South Korean capital, Seoul. According to a ministry press release, this meant the entertainers “could not have normally attended the classes,” due to their TV and entertainment schedules.

The statement adds that professors within the department accepted TV activity as course attendance, “as per school department policy.” However, the policy was only introduced in 2015, after the stars had left Dongshin.

The ministry therefore found that the policy is “null and void.” The statement said: “During 2010 to 2013, when the students were in attendance, there was no written rule nor a rule that allows the departments to have a separate policy on attendance.”

Furthermore, one of the individuals concerned, referred only as Student A by the Ministry of Education, was enrolled simultaneously as both a student and member of staff in the applied music department.

The statement read: “The time spent as instructor and the student were overlapping so it would have been impossible to attend normally.”

The ministry has therefore, it said, “demanded cancellation and rescinding of degree and school credit from seven students who are professional entertainers.” It also said it had issued a formal warning to the university and urged management to reprimand the staff involved.

“Without recovery of trust in education, no education policy can succeed,” said Yoo Eun-hae, South Korea’s minister of education.

The university acknowledged that there had been “shortcoming in certain rules” and said in a written statement: “We will closely review the measures to protect as much as possible those alumni who had received credits and degrees according to the above rule. And will set up the complementary measures including reorganization of the policy for a thorough operation of the school.”

CNN has requested further comment from Dongshin University.