‘This is how you hunt witches’

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‘This is how you hunt witches’


Tablo By Kang Jung-hyun

In the middle of fighting a cyber-witchhunt questioning his degrees from Stanford University, singer/actor Tablo sat down with the JoongAng Daily yesterday for an exclusive, two-hour interview in which he discussed family, his music career - and the ability of anonymous netizens to destroy both. Here are excerpts.

Q. Don’t you think you should have done something when the rumor first circulated?

A. I’m a musician and I’ve tried hard to become a musician, but people were always interested in the college I graduated from. But it was burden for me because [people and journalists] asked about my college. If I said yes [I graduated from Stanford], netizens told me I was being arrogant and I was always talking about my education. Because of these people’s reaction, I felt embarrassed to mention my education on television programs.

What I want to ask people is: “Do I need my transcript and diplomas to become a musician?” When it turned out that some entertainers fabricated their educational credentials a couple of years ago, reporters verified mine. So I thought I didn’t need to say: “See? I studied really hard.” Since I was verified a couple of times by reporters and TV programs, I assumed people wouldn’t buy those lies. I couldn’t even dream that so many people would think that I’m lying.

Why do you think these rumors became so prevalent over the past couple of days?

When I saw people were targeting my family with verbal abuse, I sued one netizen [who is accused of spreading rumors about Tablo in the first place] because I didn’t want my father to see all this. His health has been bad for so long. So I sued the guy, but took care to keep a low profile with it. But then one reporter wrote about it, and even people who were not even interested in me started thinking I was lying. I’m the one who sued for malice, and then I felt like I was being judged negatively.

The biggest question among people who are suspicious about you is whether you wrote a paper for your master’s degree.

As you know, every school in the United States has various systems. I don’t need to explain them all. There are some master’s degrees where you have to write papers, but under Stanford’s co-terminal program, I wrote about 20 to 30 pages of thesis for every subject, not like publishing a paper [under the co-terminal program]. There is one thesis I wrote about Andy Warhol. If people search the Web site of Stanford, they would know [all this] but a lot of it was lost in translation. People couldn’t read the English themselves. If somebody translated it for them, they’d believe it’s true.

How do you feel?

I feel damaged. I mean, the things people ask me. If I asked you what happened to you eight, nine, or 10 years ago, you wouldn’t be able to give me exact details. For people to expect me to remember every single last detail in my past, it’s impossible. They can say, “Hey were you really wearing this 10 years ago?” If I say I don’t remember, they say, “You’re hiding something.” If I say I think I was wearing a shirt, they say, “No you weren’t. I have a picture of you wearing a jacket.” This is a type of thing I’m going though right now. This is how you hunt witches, basically. This is how a witch hunt works.

What do you want now?

I don’t care about restoring my public image. What I really want is that no one else is victimized as I have been by a combination of anonymity and malice [in cyberspace]. I hope there will be no more damage to my family. I want my mom and dad to be able to keep their chins up. I hope I could focus on my wife. And for those who love my music and who got hurt by this, I hope they wouldn’t be hurt anymore.


Letters from Stanford faculties confirming Tablo’s attendance into Stanford University and a transcript submitted by Tablo showing he earned BA with distinction and MA in three and a half years. His student number is blurred for privacy. [Kang Jung-hyun]

By Sung So-young [so@joongang.co.kr]
Related Korean Article

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

미국 스탠퍼드대 재학 시절 타블로의 성적표(아래)와 학교 측과 담당 교수의 공식 확인서. [오종택 기자]

“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.

  • 한글 기사 보기

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

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

  • Transcript '타블로 스탠퍼드대 성적표' 크게 보기

  • Transcript2 '타블로 스탠퍼드대 성적표' 크게 보기

  • Grading rules at Stanford

  • A letter from Thomas C. Black, associate vice provost of student affairs and university registrar at Stanford University

  • A letter from Tobias Wolff, Ward W. and Priscilla B. Woods Professor

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