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Korean YouTuber and bullying victim Pyo Ye-rim dies at 28

By JUSTINE PUNZALAN Published Oct 11, 2023 2:59 pm

Trigger warning: This article includes mentions of suicide and bullying.

South Korean YouTuber and bullying victim Pyo Ye-rim passed away on Wednesday, Oct. 10. She was 28 years old.

According to a report by Korean entertainment outlet Allkpop, the vlogger's death was confirmed after the Busan Police Station and Fire Department received a report that a woman had fallen into the Seongjigok Reservoir at around noontime that day. 

The woman, who was still unidentified at that time, was rushed to the hospital at 4:20 p.m. but was already declared dead due to cardiac arrest.

She was later confirmed to be Pyo, who owns a beauty salon in Yeonje-gu Busan and made headlines earlier this year for opening up about her experiences of school bullying for 12 long years.

Pyo's story was brought to the public's attention through local TV networks and her own YouTube channel in March. She said that the hit revenge drama The Glory inspired her to seek justice for what she went through as a victim of school bullying.

According to Pyo, the violence began with her four female classmates bullying her as early as grade school. Because their town, Euiryeong in Gyeongsang Province, was so small, she remained classmates with the four girls who continued to bully her through middle school and high school.

She recalled being the one bullied because she was the quiet one in class. They would often attack her physically, even dragging her into the restroom and shoving her head into a toilet bowl. 

Pyo said their words were extremely rude and insulting, and that she would often respond to them with silence. This angered the girls and led them to use violence against Pyo.

One of her former classmates admitted in a YouTube video that a teacher once witnessed Pyo "getting beaten during class" but the teacher "didn't say anything."

A similar case happened when Pyo reported the situation to another teacher. "I told one teacher that I had been bullied. It took me great courage to open up. But all I received was questions which made me feel like it was my fault," The Korea Times quoted Pyo as saying.

Pyo's parents were unaware of their daughter's years-long ordeal because she chose to remain silent as well.

Eight years later, in April 2023, Pyo filed a petition to the Korean government to abolish the provisions that favor perpetrators of school violence.

Investigations are ongoing on the cause of Pyo's fall into the Seongjigok Reservoir on Wednesday.

However, social media users are saying that the YouTuber previously hinted about taking her own life, as she said,  "I am one of the people who suffered from school violence in elementary, middle, and high schools for 12 years. One YouTube channel has been targeting me, and I've suffered multiple personal attacks by anonymous people. Furthermore, they're saying my claims of school violence are false. I'm no longer confident enough to endure and overcome this pain. There's nothing left to make me go on in life. Please don't give up on my case."

If you or anyone you know is considering self-harm or suicide, you may call the National Mental Health Crisis hotline at 1553 (Luzon-wide, landline toll-free), 0966-351-4518 or 0917-899-USAP (8727) for Globe/TM users, and 0908-639-2672 for Smart users.