Suspended Juilliard professor states his defence

Suspended Juilliard professor states his defence


norman lebrecht

February 02, 2015

The pianist Choong Mo Kang, suspended ten days ago and reported to the New York police for alleged sexual misconduct, has given an interview to Korean media about the charges. He says:

‘Julliard is a school that teaches dance and music, so there are stringent rules on physical contact. The rule says that ahead of any physical contact, I need to ask the student’s permission, and I didn’t know this.’

Kang went on to say that he touched the student’s fingers and hands while instructing on the piano.

‘The student, who I have taught for two years, stated humiliation as the reason for the report. I’ve taught for 20 years this way, and never has this kind of contact surfaced as an issue.’

He added: ‘I have not resigned from Julliard. I have been suspended as per the rules, and the investigation is ongoing.’





  • Erwin Poelstra says:

    Strange case, IF he speaks the truth…touching fingers and hands is considered “humiliating” and “sexual misconduct”? Then how about this “master class”:

  • Anonymous says:

    Oh… so this is the “surprise” we have been waiting for… Touching hands and fingers… Nice………

  • Patrick says:

    That’s a great video. The contact seemed pedagogically appropriate. Hope she didn’t mind. I doubt he asked. As a conducting teacher I’ve just gotten used to asking if I can touch wrists, hands. Or I just demonstrate on my own hands. And it would be extremely unwise to ever touch a student in a private lesson.

    Soon we’ll all be wearing body cams…

  • Ross says:

    Those are his comments. Perhaps they were prepared on advice of counsel.
    The victim will likely stay anonymous and will not make a public statement. The victim’s statement to law enforcement may be quite different.
    Nobody knows what happened except the teacher and student. We also don’t know if there are any witnesses or solid evidence. No reason to pass judgement, against any party involved, yet.

  • Will says:

    Shouldn’t laugh…but…all I could think of was this….

  • Gustav Mahler (@GustavMahlerJr) says:

    Years ago, my 2nd piano teacher spent the first month having me play 5 notes in each hand. This was to teach me playing each finger without moving anything else in the hand. Half of the time he did it and had me put my hand under his while he did it. When I finally was able to play a piece, he stood behind me and pushed my shoulders down. Years later I still remember this as I play and I have had zero muscle or joint issues because I learned how to play relaxed.

    In my violin and viola lessons, teachers have always ‘touched’ me to correct instrument or bow positions. This political correctness or whatever has gone too far. Should teachers now have students sign a form that they might be touched on their hands or arms to correct positions?

  • marguerite foxon says:

    You’re a professor at Julliard who have this policy. You’ve been teaching for two years. You suddenly learn of this policy??? C’mon …..

    • Anon says:

      Well, for about 95% of the world’s population (anyone not from the US) such an extreme rule, result of a US litigation culture, is anything but intuitive. Such a rule might be easy to implement for many mostly mental areas of studies, but where a strong physiological aspect is involved as well as in instructions on musical instruments, such a rule borders on being ridiculous and counterproductive to the quality of education. I know of US professors, who leave the elevator if they end up alone with a female student in there, simply because if that student wanted to, it could destroy their carreer. Crazy development in that part of the world.

  • baron z says:

    How utterly ridiculous. He clearly had an obnoxious student. How can you teach any instrument without making physical contact. Permission should be implicit in signing up for lessons. The policy is ludicrous. The back, the arms, the hands, the neck, are all part of the playing mechanism and must be adjusted. I was saved by my teacher’s holding my hands while playing. I am happy to use a conductor’s baton instead, to poke my students, but they don’t like it better. He must be exonerated. Students have no consideration, perspective or humility these days.

    • Peter says:

      I agree. Both the police and the school should investigate the student, not the professor. And, if Kang is exonerated, the ill-intentioned student should not have a future in the music business.

      • Will says:

        Yeah let’s just all take what Kang said at face value and ignore the victim, because obviously the victim is wrong and the accused is right. Not that he shouldn’t be innocent until proven guilty, but do you think Juilliard really sent out a school-wide email about the situation if the infraction were this light?

    • Anon says:

      What’s your problem? What’s with you and all the antagonistic comments you always splatter on SlippedDisc?

      • Vladimir says:

        I actually started out with very mild comments, if you look it up. But once I saw the kind of rhetoric and arguments that you and the rest of the guys who are obviously so heavily connected to him used, I pushed back, since we all know that you guys are just trying to save his face. I, unlike you, have no real personal connection to him and no vested interests in what happens to him.

        And BTW, since you think that I am Juilliard itself, and you call me mafia, and think this is all a conspiracy theory, would you mind expounding on that theory? Why would Juilliard want to invent something like this? Why would they turn it over to the police and write out this email to everybody if it was so innocent as touching the hand of a student?

        • Dr. Phil says:

          Give. Us. The. Proof.

          All we have are allegations (we don’t even know the details of these allegations) and Kang’s rebuttal. Give us the proof Kang did something, such as CCTV, inappropriate text messages between Kang and the victim, etc., and then we will believe you. Until then, we have no choice but to assume Kang is innocent until proven guilty.

          • norman lebrecht says:

            You are using 3 pseudonyms. Stick to one.

          • Vladimir says:

            It’s getting boring and repetitive.

            How about this as food for thought: when a person is summoned to a police investigation and then all of a sudden leaves the country (a deathly ill mother– I thought that you mentioned before that he was just so disgusted with the way that Juilliard handled it), then he is no longer considered innocent. He is actually under the legal term of fugitive. We do agree about that, right?

            So how’s that for a little tit-for-tat: if Mr. Kang comes back to the US, I will stop what you think is antagonistic comments. Heck, I will even write that I was wrong. But until he does, he no longer is legally innocent. Deal? So please let us all know when he does decide to come back, since you guys are obviously close.

  • MARY SOILEX says:

    I say that the teacher should be investigated. Students complain for real reasons at das Juilliard School. Und if the maestro is upset..then let him be investigated by the courts.

  • Vladimir says:

    Of course, that’s why he left the US immediately. Right. Because we all know that everything that an accused person tells the press must true. Just a question as food for thought: why did the Korean media not ask Juilliard for a comment? Isn’t that standard procedure in “journalism?”

    • Anon says:

      Anybody in his right mind should have left that country where personal vendettas are supported by the law. Would you stay, if the law would allow you to be thrown in jail until you have had your trial, the outcome of which very much depending on how much money you can afford on a lawyer?

      • Vladimir says:

        “Anybody in his right mind…” “A country where personal vendettas…”

        What on earth are you talking about? Where do you live? I hope that not in the States, if you think that the judicious system is in such terrible shape. If you do, I truly suggest you pack up and leave because it’s obviously only a matter of time before an innocent person like yourself will also find himself caught up in personal vendettas and thrown into jail with no evidence.

        And BTW, please notice that you and him have a completely contradicting version of the story. Didn’t he state to the press that he was accused of touching her hand? Surely one doesn’t get thrown into jail automatically for that, as you should very well know. You and I both know that he is accused of something a lot more sinister than that.

        Did you go to Juilliard? I am pretty sure you did. If you did, or do, then you know full well that Juilliard does not call the police for a teacher who guided the student’s hand during a lesson. That’s just bull****. And if, by the slightest of chances, you are actually not really affiliated with the institute and don’t know the in’s and out’s of it, then I suggest you do your research.

        But something in me tells me that your, and a few of his other supporters’ allegiance, comes from a different place.

        • Anon says:

          All I’m saying is the rule of law should be applied, innocent until proven guilty, investigation into all directions.

          Meanwhile you seem to have made up your mind without due consideration of – yet unknown – facts, so you can’t be taken seriously or must be suspected to have bad intentions .

          And that the current US justice system is in too many cases an injustice system is well known, inside and outside of the US.

  • Anon says:

    Mr. Kang left the US because his mother is deathly ill.

  • Vladimir says:

    And BTW, you still have not replied to my original question: why did the Korean newspaper not ask Juilliard for a comment? You seem to be down about the judicial system in the States, but how about the Korean one? Can you imagine the New York Times publishing an article like this and not even asking for a comment from the accusing side?

    You seem to want to convince us that there is a smell of corruption on this side, but I actually think that there is a definite stench coming from somewhere else.

    • Anon says:

      Do you know for fact the Korean newspaper didn’t ask Julliard for s statement, or are you just making that up?

      • Vladimir says:

        Isn’t that, once again, standard in journalism? Can you find one article in the NYTimes for me that doesn’t mention that so and so has been contacted for comment, regardless of whether there was one or not?

    • Anon says:

      So, Mr. Mafiard, where’s your proof that Mr. Kang actually committed sexual misconduct? Do you have a video footage from CCTV showing the instance

  • Vladimir says:

    You must think we are all fools is you tell us that that’s all you said.

  • Vladimir says:

    And you know this because you obviously have no personal ties to him and are an objective bystander, right?

  • Vladimir says:

    I mean, they only hired the guy a couple of years ago, didn’t they? And he was bringing many students to the school. Where are all of those personal vendettas coming from, that you and the rest of his supporters mention?

  • Former Juilliard Student says:

    if a Professor wanted to sexually advance on a student- he wouldn’t do it within the Juilliard Building- where they just installed windows on every classroom so everyone can see inside the rooms where lessons are conducted. A pervert would teach from his home, Mr. Kang is professional- always dressed very nice (unlike some of faculty) and serious teacher, and on top of that his lessons and musicianship are the some of the best I’ve had. Juilliard has turned into a piece of garbage has far as making music goes- and President Polisi should have pulled his head of his ass and fixed this by now, Juilliard sucks- they should spend more time addressing professors who can’t see or hear properly, and are truly unfit and unhealthy to be teaching, versus ridiculing Mr. Kang for ACTUALLY demonstrating all the time.. and guiding his students in the right direction- not too mention STILL plays recitals in NYC and around the world, half of Juilliard faculty doesn’t even perform anymore.

  • Stuart Johnson says:

    Why does Dr. Kang tolerate those miserable, retarded jerks in the US? There are plenty of great schools and serious students and artists in Russia, Germany, China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Poland, Hungary.

  • David says:

    Dear Choongmo, all people who know you support you. Please visit the link below for more information.

  • Joel Wizansky says:

    Wrong. Mr. Kang has not been summoned in a police investigation, he is the subject of an internal school investigation. There is no indication that he is in any sense a fugitive. His wife and children are in Korea, and there is no reason for him to be in New York if he is not teaching. It is not uncommon in the music world for teachers to essentially commute to where they teach, even internationally. And given the distress this is undoubtedly causing him, it’s certainly understandable he’d want to be with his family rather than sitting at home in his apartment in New York.

    • Vladimir says:

      No, Mr. Wizansky, I am not wrong. You are just full of it.

      First of all, it did indeed start off as an internal school investigation. But if you even read the statement released by Juilliard you will noticed that they mention that they reported this to the law enforcements. Do you claim that the law enforcements dismissed the case on the spot? prove it.

      Secondly, why on earth would you say that Choong Mo’s wife and children are in Korea [redacted? Why make up stuff?

      And BTW, can all of you decide once and for all why he left the country? [redacted]

      As I mention before, we are all looking forward to Mr. Kang’s return to the USA and for him proving us all wrong and vindicating himself. But until then, it is very, very… strange. And lest you say that he would never set foot in Juilliard since he is so appalled with the institution, I will remind you that he has other gigs (masterclasses, competition juries, festivals, etc.) that he is supposed to conduct in the US. Let’s see if he shows up to any of them.

      You know what the most obnoxious part of this whole thing is? It’s that I wouldn’t be even bothering to write all of this stuff if it wasn’t for all of you fanboys (or family members) trying to a priori tarnish the name and reputation of a girl in order to save his face. The amount of junk that has been thrown here against her is simply abhorring.

  • Martin says:

    Juilliard did handle the situation poorly. And I must say that I am shocked by their lack of empathy and consideration from all sides of this alllegation.

    First of all, they have not mentioned that they have solid proof of anything, yet they decided to release and made this kind of information public.

    I am neither in support of Mr. Kang or the student, as there is no way to verify if this allegation is true. What I support is the truth. If Mr. Kang is indeed guilty, then I wish justice be served. But what if he is NOT guilty? Has Juilliard done right by already treating him like a criminal? Can his reputation ever be truly restored? Will Juilliard admit that they are wrong if there is no solid evidence proving that Mr. Kang is guilty?

    Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty? Who gives Mr. Polisi the right to publicly shame a human being while this case is still undergoing investigation?

  • Greg says:

    So, what is the result of the investigation? What is the latest development???

    • Peter says:

      No development. They fired him and nothing happened after it. No investigation, no evidence. Still cannot understand what and why school did this to him.

      • Vladimir says:

        As I said, he never has since, and never will set foot on US soil ever again. That should tell you everything you need to know.

        • Matthew says:

          Wow, actually following up, eh? I applaud your enthusiasm.

          You certainly seem to know everything about this issue, and perhaps closely attached to Juilliard. The name “Vladimir” kinda doesn’t fit you, Mister – why not use an American name for some coherence, such as “Adam” or “Robert”? 😀