Aggrieved singer battles nasty cyber lynching

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Aggrieved singer battles nasty cyber lynching


Tablo talks with the JoongAng Daily at its newsroom yesterday. By Kang Jung-hyun

Hip-hop was considered a genre practiced by uneducated rough-and-toughs until Korean rapper Tablo broke onto the nation’s music scene in 2003 at the age of 23. Tablo earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Stanford University, and chose music over other lucrative careers, a fact guaranteed to gain notice in an education-obsessed country like Korea.

That attention has now backlashed on Tablo. For reasons unknown, netizens have formed a cyber lynch squad, insisting that Tablo faked his education credentials. One online community - “We Want Tablo to Tell the Truth” - saw its membership soar from 30,000 to 40,000 in a couple of days earlier this week.

“I’m the type of person who loves a conspiracy theory, so I just laughed at first,” Tablo told the JoongAng Daily yesterday in his first interview with the media after the online campaign got out of control.

“I thought nobody would buy all those rumors about me because they were absurd.”

The JoongAng Daily has examined Tablo’s college records and can confirm his Stanford degrees.


Tablo, a k a Daniel Seon Woong Lee, earned degrees from Stanford in 2001 and 2002. Netizens have waged a campaign questioning the singer’s education.

The Internet witch hunt has caused Tablo and his family extreme distress, he says - made even more diabolical because he’s done nothing to cause it.

“One of my family’s home addresses was leaked onto the Internet and my brother also received about 10 threat calls. ”



During a nearly two-hour interview, Tablo sobbed when he talked about his family. Tablo, now 29, tied the knot last year with actress Kang Hye-jeong, who is famous for award-winning films such as “Oldboy” (2003) and the couple has a 6-week-old baby daughter.

“I want my mom and dad to be able to keep their chins up. Since my dad’s health is not good, I worry that this might be the last major event in his life.”

In recent years, two Korean entertainers killed themselves because of malicious postings on the Web. Actress Choi Jin-sil, once called “the dream of every man,” committed suicide in October 2008 and singer Uni in January 2007.

“I don’t care about restoring my public image,” Tablo said. “What I really want is that no one else is victimized as I have been by a combination of anonymity and malice [in cyberspace].”

According to Tablo’s original college transcript, he earned a Bachelor of Arts with Distinction in English on May 4, 2001 and a Master of Arts in English on April 4, 2002, through a co-terminal program, in which students study for their master’s degree before finishing their B.A.

Asked what paper he wrote for his master’s, which is one of the biggest questions on the Internet, Tablo said: “I wrote about 20 to 30 pages of thesis for every subject. It’s not like publishing a paper [under the co-terminal program].”

The transcript also showed he earned 16 credits of advanced placement from high school and another 12 credits from summer classes at New York University, which let him finish the program in three and a half years.

The JoongAng Daily also contacted Stanford University and obtained letters confirming Tablo’s degrees. One is from Tobias Wolff, Stanford’s Ward W. and Priscilla B. Woods Professor of English, and the other from Thomas C. Black, associate vice provost of student affairs and university registrar at the college.

Wolff, a well-known author, wrote: “This is to certify that the records of both Stanford University and the English Department clearly demonstrate that Daniel Seon Woong Lee (pen name Daniel Armand Lee), now known as the musician Tablo, received from us both a Bachelor of Arts with Distinction, and a Master of Arts.”

By Sung So-young []
Related Korean Article

1998~2002년 재학 시절 학점·성적 기록된 서류 공개
중앙데일리, 대학 학적과서 타블로 학위 확인서 입수

“결백한 사람들이 더이상 (사이버 문화의) 익명성에 기댄 악의적인 언어 폭력에 희생되지 않았으면 좋겠습니다.”

가수 타블로(30·본명 이선웅·사진)가 10일 자신을 둘러싼 학력 위조 논란에 종지부를 찍었다. 그는 이날 본지에 “증거(evidence)가 아닌 사실(fact)”이라며 미국 스탠퍼드 대학교 재학 시절 성적표를 공개했다. 중앙일보 영어신문인 중앙데일리를 통해서다.

이 성적표엔 그가 1998년 9월 스탠퍼드 대학에 입학해 2001년 4월 학사 학위를 취득한 뒤, 2002년 4월 석사 학위를 받기까지 취득한 학점과 성적이 모두 기록돼 있다. 타블로는 “스탠퍼드 대학의 코터미널(co-terminal) 프로그램을 통해 3년 반 동안 학·석사 과정을 모두 마쳤다”고 설명했다. 일부 네티즌은 석사 논문 목록 등이 없다며 그의 학력에 의혹을 제기해왔다. 그는 “(코터미널은) 매 과목마다 20쪽 정도 분량의 페이퍼를 제출하며 (한 권으로 정리된) 별도의 논문은 출간하지 않는다”고 설명했다.

이에 앞서 중앙데일리는 스탠퍼드 대학 학적과로부터 타블로의 학위에 대한 공식 확인서를 입수했다. 토마스 블랙 부학장(vice provost of Student Affairs and University Registrar) 명의로 발신된 이 확인서엔 “다니엘 선웅 리(Daniel Seon Woong Lee·타블로의 영문이름)가 98년 가을에 스탠퍼드 대학에 입학해 영문학 학사과정을 졸업하고 2002년에 석사 학위를 취득했다”고 적혀있다. 특히 “(타블로의 학력을 둘러싼) 모든 의혹이나 의심 유발은 명백한 거짓이란 걸 알린다”고 명시했다.

타블로가 재학한 스탠퍼드 대학 영문학과 토비아스 울프(Tobias Wolff·문예창작 담당 주임) 교수도 “지금은 뮤지션 타블로로 알려져 있는 다니엘 선웅 리(필명 다니엘 아만드 리)가 3년 반 만에 학사와 석사를 받은 걸 인증한다. 매우 독특하고 대단한 일이다”는 내용의 확인서를 중앙데일리를 통해 보내왔다.

  • 중앙일보 관련 기사 보기

  • A related story
    ‘This is how you hunt witches’-타블로 “미국 스탠퍼드대 성적표 있다”

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