• Maryam Fatima

The Fallout of Daud Kim

Updated: Dec 30, 2020

Image: screenshot from Daud Kim's apology video

Daud Kim, formerly known as Jay Kim, is a former South Korean singer and current YouTuber known for making videos pertaining to Islam and Muslims. Since 2018, he has uploaded hundreds of videos to his channel and has gained at least two million subscribers up to date.

Despite being the most popular South Korean Muslim YouTuber, Daud became the latest celebrity to be “cancelled” by the public. He was accused of attempting to rape a woman in her home while he was intoxicated in 2019. There was even a leaked video circulating on social media that supported the accusation, showing Daud removing his trousers, while the victim and her friend secretly filmed him from upstairs and could be heard crying.

In late August, Daud uploaded two videos to his channel as a response to the scandal, confirming that he was the one in the video, but that he could hardly remember anything because he was too drunk. After his apology video was uploaded, he made all the other videos on his channel private and hasn’t uploaded anything since then.

Not going to lie, I was shocked when I heard about this. I never expected someone like Daud Kim to be the latest Youtuber to be taken down by “cancel culture.” I never imagined that he would be accused of something as serious as sexual assault, nor was I expecting him to confess that he was more interested in money and fame than in studying Islam.

In my opinion, there was nothing that seemed disingenuous about him. Nothing in his videos indicated to me that he was someone who couldn’t be trusted. He never used his platform to start drama or to harm someone else’s reputation, nor was he ever seen using swear words or offensive language. He exhibited all these positive qualities and created a highly successful YouTube channel with many dedicated and supportive followers. Plus, you could hardly find a single negative comment on any of his videos. “Haters” were almost nonexistent.

But a bombshell like this only reminds us how little we truly know about a person. We only know them through the “performance” that they put on for us, where they are expected to present the best, polished version of themselves. But the reality is that behind the camera is a regular, flawed human being just like the rest of us, a person who is no less susceptible to sinning than we are.

While it is true that nobody is perfect and that we are all prone to making mistakes, this, of course, does not make our mistakes justifiable. In Daud’s case, it is never okay to try to engage in any form of sexual behavior with someone who didn't consent to it, regardless of whether you are drunk or not. He needed to be held accountable for his actions and own up to what he did. He did this by uploading a video where he addressed all the rumors, issuing a public apology to not only the victim, but also to all his fans. He also claimed to have apologized to the victim in person (though this is not confirmed, at least to my knowledge).

The drama only continued with the aftermath of his apology video. So many people wanted to comment on the situation. YouTubers who collaborated with or personally knew Daud Kim were pressured to respond to the situation. Some were highly critical of Daud’s actions and outwardly refused to support him in anyway, while others gave a more balanced perspective on the issue, acknowledging Daud’s wrongful actions yet at the same time, emphasizing the importance of forgiveness and giving people second chances (Ali Dawah’s response video is a perfect example, and pretty much sums up my own take on this whole issue. You can watch his video here).

I am not going to spend the rest of this article condemning his actions (since I’ve already done that) or expressing hope that he never redeems himself or comes back as a YouTuber, as I find that utterly ridiculous. Just because someone makes a mistake, no matter how horrible it is, does not mean they are incapable of redeeming themselves and coming back as a better person.

With that being said, some of the rhetoric that is being said about Daud on social media is problematic and unnecessary.

“I just found about Daud Kim sexually assaulted someone,” one twitter user wrote. “The number of people defending him actually makes me feel sick. Whether he’s Muslim whether the victim is Muslim none of these things matter!! Rape is just wrong and people need to stop being rape apologists!”

“Honestly it just makes you realize that you shouldn’t believe everything you see on YouTube,” another Twitter user wrote. “I was such a fan of his but what he did is unforgivable and the people defending him are honestly the worst type of people.”

Of course, at no point in this article did I try to justify Daud’s actions. What he did was wrong, plain and simple. But I’ve never seen anyone try to “defend” his actions like the aforementioned user claims. No one (except a an extreme minority, perhaps) is arguing that rape is okay or that the victim “deserved” what happened to her. That is absolutely disgusting and inexcusable.

Rather, the vast majority of people (particularly those in the comment section of his apology video) are trying to reassure Daud that he can be forgiven. That is, if he genuinely repents (which includes asking God for forgiveness, apologizing to the victim, and making an effort not to repeat the mistake again), then his sins will be erased. That is what Islam says. However, some people insist that he should never be forgiven, no matter what.

“Rape is rape and it will never be right in any way,” another Twitter user wrote. “I don't support cancel culture but I think this would be the first exemption.”

The list goes on. Many of these critics are absolutely brutal, and it’s saddening to see.

But honestly, if God can forgive a person who has murdered 100 people, then what right do you have to say that He shouldn’t forgive Daud?

There is one twitter comment that I do agree with, though.

“Someone please tell me what Islam has to do with daud Kim’s story. Whether he repented or not justice still needs to be served to that girl. If you keep bringing Islam into this, you’ll just disfigure Islam’s image in Korea, which isn’t great to begin with.”

Just because someone has sinned before they became a Muslim does not always mean that we should disregard their past actions, especially if it involves the violation of someone else’s rights. It is extremely important that the person seeks the forgiveness of the person they have wronged and tries to make it up to them, if possible. If they don’t do that, God has no reason to forgive their sins.

A topic like sexual assault is understandably a very sensitive subject for many people. It can be extremely traumatizing to the victim and can take a long time to heal from. I fully empathize with the victim in Daud’s case and acknowledge that it is not always easy to forgive your assaulter.

I’m also aware that the victim and her friends have been receiving death threats and insults from Daud’s fanbase, which is disgusting and wrong. We should never, ever, blame the victim, no matter what. I cannot fathom why that’s still a thing.

In addition, plenty of people are using this situation as yet another reason to bash Islam and Muslims, but the mistakes of one person should not be a reason to generalize an entire religion or group of people. Plus, Islam makes it pretty clear that Daud’s actions were wrong, and emphasizes the rights of those who have had their rights violated by someone else.

To sum up my thoughts, I don’t think Daud’s actions should be swept under the rug, but I also don’t support people who say that he should never be forgiven or that he should be de-platformed. I believe that he can still redeem himself, but it will take some time. He should take a few months off of YouTube to reflect on his actions and work on becoming a better Muslim and overall, a better human being. He should also reevaluate his intentions of being a YouTuber and ensure he’s not just doing it for the fame and money, but to become a better person in the process and to help spread a more positive image of Islam in Korea.

In the meantime, I want to make dua that God forgives him and all of our sins, including any major ones. Hopefully the victim will heal from this situation and eventually find it in her heart to forgive him as well. I wish her all the best.

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