Stanford official furious Tablo rumor won’t die

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Stanford official furious Tablo rumor won’t die

The Internet rumors surrounding Korean rapper Tablo’s education - a controversy the JoongAng Daily put to bed last week when it confirmed his college transcripts - is inflaming officials at Stanford University in California.

“People just say anything they want. Daniel [Seon-Woong Lee, the rapper’s real name] should be able to prosecute these people and put them in jail and get damages,” Thomas C. Black, Stanford’s registrar and associate vice provost of student affairs, told the JoongAng Daily by phone. Black last week confirmed in writing that Tablo earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Stanford.

An online smear campaign that claimed that Tablo, 29, faked his education credentials recently caught fire, distressing the singer so much that he made his college transcripts public. But even that has failed to stop the Internet witch hunt.

Black said the rumors have grown so wide that even he has received e-mail from Korean Internet users.

“I write back and say to them, ‘What evidence would satisfy you?’” he said.

The registrar said he’s furious that official Stanford documents have carried no weight with scandalmongers.

“My authority is being impugned and my character is being maligned. That’s me here in the United States. I don’t know what the situation is regarding Daniel in Korea, but it’s really quite insulting for the ignorant mob to insult me,” said Black.

“My document has a legal bearing here in the United States. I could go to jail if I were to falsify the document. The ignorant mob, I’ll call them, is just spewing poison for no reason.”

Black said the volume of e-mail inquiries from Korea was such that on Saturday he left a posting on Stanford’s Twitter page verifying that Tablo attended the university and earned two degrees there in three and a half years.

He also addressed the authenticity of the electronic transcript the university issued to Tablo. “An electronic transcript certifies a digital signature,” Black said. “That document is not only authentic, but it cannot be altered.”

Black added that Koreans cannot use their own education system to evaluate the one at Stanford.

Meanwhile, Tablo sounded exhausted by the fight.

“They can’t trust in me, but how can they deny documents from Stanford?” he asked. “There is a stone. If somebody says it’s not a stone, what would you say?”

Experts say the anonymity of cyberspace can fuel malicious rumors.

“These people are empowered only when their anonymity is guaranteed. They find themselves when they keep denying facts,” said Yang Yoon, a psychology professor at Ewha Womans University.

“And the thing is Tablo is a star. For these people, entertainers are the easiest target. They know entertainers are vulnerable to [negative] public opinion.”


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

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