There is certainly no such thing as curses, and people love to exaggerate problems and conflicts. Nonetheless, in the history of Big Hit Entertainment, which would evolve into HYBE Corporation, there have indeed been times where observers would describe the company’s girl groups as “cursed” as a result of various misfortunes and scandals. Le Sserafim is a fourth-generation K-pop girl group that debuted under Source Music after it had been acquired by HYBE, and it did indeed undergo a scandal that nearly sabotaged the group before it had even begun. So here we will discuss when exactly did Le Sserafim debut, along with their debut album, first song — and the departure of Kim Garam, the once-sixth member of the group, following a “bullying” controversy.
Le Sserafim Debuted on May 2, 2022 with the Song “Fearless”
Sakura, Kim Chaewon, Huh Yunjin, Kazuha, Kim Garam, and Hong Eunchae debuted as Le Sserafim on May 2, 2022 with the mini-album Fearless and the lead single of the same name. The “Fearless” music video was released on the same day. Fearless contained five songs in total, which in order are as follows: “The World Is My Oyster,” “Fearless,” “Blue Flame,” “The Great Mermaid,” and “Sour Grapes.” A lengthy list of songwriters contributed to crafting the album, but Score and Megatone of the music production team 13 participated in writing every song. Fearless would earn the Hanteo Chart record for highest first-week sales of a K-pop girl group debut album at the time of its release, with 307,450 copies sold.
Le Sserafim held a debut showcase on May 2, 2022, featuring performances of “Fearless” and “Blue Flame,” but beyond that, the first time the group performed for television was on M Countdown on May 5, 2022, with a performance of “Fearless.”
However, despite the record sales numbers and positive response to the group’s debut performances, Le Sserafim, HYBE, and Source Music suffered controversy regarding member Kim Garam before the group had even debuted. Allegations had arisen of Garam engaging in heinous bully behavior back in middle school, which may not sound significant to an international audience, but school bullying is treated as a serious problem in South Korea and is unbecoming of an idol. Significant, seemingly official school documentation regarding the bullying was retrieved, but in some cases, the documents were lacking context. Meanwhile, photos from that period of schooling began to circulate with claims that they somehow demonstrated Garam engaging in inappropriate behavior.
On May 20, 2022, 18 days after debut, HYBE and Source put Garam on hiatus pending further investigation into the bullying allegations, and Le Sserafim would promote as five members in the interim. In that same announcement, the companies released a lengthy statement explaining Garam’s involvement with the School Violence Countermeasures Committee, and it is frankly too much information to neatly summarize here.
On July 20, 2022, HYBE and Source Music announced that they had terminated their contract with Kim Garam and that Le Sserafim would continue on as a five-member group. No official explanation was offered at that time for the termination, but the companies said, “We extend our sincerest apologies to our fans and to those who have shown love and support to the group for causing you concern over the controversy involving the member.”
Indeed, many were confused and upset at the time that HYBE and Source had not done adequate research into this situation before Garam debuted, while some others continued to defend Garam and were upset she had been removed. In fact, despite heavy investigation and Garam’s ultimate removal, the full extent to which Garam may have been a “bully” is still unclear, as there is at least some evidence to suggest an alleged victim of hers was mutually abusive. It appears Garam herself released a statement on August 10, 2022 to defend herself, including the full school report about school violence. However, K-Pop Answers will refrain from speculation and conclusions on subjects where there is insufficient information. We will simply conclude that it is an unfortunate situation all around.
Incidentally, in September 2022, HYBE released a documentary series about the debut of Le Sserafim, entitled The World Is My Oyster, and it was heavily edited to remove Garam as much as possible.
So to summarize, Le Sserafim made their debut on May 2, 2022 with the song “Fearless” and the album Fearless, but member Kim Garam was removed from the group on July 20, 2022 following a complex bullying controversy. Le Sserafim has remained a five-member group of Sakura, Chaewon, Yunjin, Kazuha, and Eunchae ever since, largely free of controversy and continuing to grow in popularity.
For more about Le Sserafim, check out how old the members are, who speaks English or other languages in the group, what their MBTIs are, and who the leader of Le Sserafim is (and why it is not Sakura). Alternatively, for another wildly popular HYBE girl group, check out how old the NewJeans members are. Or if you’re still a fan of the old Source Music, check out how old the former GFriend (and current Viviz) members are and when it was that GFriend shockingly disbanded.