13 years ago, at the height of Korean hip-hop group Epik High’s fame, frontman Tablo (aka Daniel Kim) found himself the target of a mass misinformation campaign. Thousands of internet users challenged every single aspect of his enrollment at Stanford University, even targeting him and his loved ones with death threats.
On Feb.17, Tablo announced his intent to finally dive deep into his own experiences with a 10-part audio series, “Authentic: The Story of Tablo.” Hosted by Vice News reporter Dexter Thomas, Jr. and produced by iHeartRadio Podcast and Vice, the podcast releases today, Feb. 24 and will explore how the internet forum Tajinyo, loosely meaning Tell The Truth Tablo, questioning his college education spiraled into a mass hate movement that had Tablo fearing for his life and the safety of his family. Tablo eventually took a hiatus from releasing music with Epik High and left their record label, Woollim Entertainment, to prevent the scandal affecting other musicians under the label.
The controversy was so sprawling, even a two-part documentary titled “Tablo Goes to Stanford” and multiple statements from Stanford itself were not enough to quell the misinformation. Internet users accused Tablo of lying that he had earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the university in just three and a half years. Tablo’s brother David was also later accused of lying on his resume, and his mother was harassed for a newspaper incorrectly stating she had won a hairstyling contest in the 1960s. To make matters worse, Tablo’s wife Kang Hye-jeong was pregnant with their daughter Haru at the height of the scandal. Even the musician releasing his transcripts led to the rise of a different elaborate conspiracy, that Tablo had stolen the identity of another student.
“I was doing everything they asked and it was never good enough,” Tablo told Stanford Magazine in 2011. “That’s when I realized that they weren’t looking for answers, they just wanted to destroy me.”
Even after 13 years, the rapper still feels a sense of fear, which he explained in a series of tweets published after the announcement of the podcast. “Pain creates nothing but darkness if it stays inside me,” Tablo wrote. “I’d now like to use it to save someone. The fact that I am afraid to tell my own story is reason enough to fight that fear with all I’ve got.”
Listen to the story of his heartbreaking experience on iHeartRadio here.