Okay, so this article will probably annoy a few people and while that’s not my intention, I just can’t keep quiet this time. I didn’t write a response to the last celebrity-in-the-military scandal and I should have. So I have to say something now because it’s just bursting out. I need to put my two cents in.
You might have noticed that I – or anyone on ATK Magazine – rarely talk about celebrity gossip. There are two reasons for that. First, if gossip is your thing, there are lots of places where you can get your fix. But more importantly, it’s just not my thing and since I’m the editor-in-chief, I get to decide what we publish and what we don’t.
That being said, I am going to touch on the recent Se7en & Sangchu scandal today. But not to attack them (seriously, why do people do that?) but rather because there are a couple of things I feel compelled to add to the online conversation about Korean celebrities acting badly while in the military. So this post really has less to do with Se7en & Sangshu, than the situation itself.
First, I want to make a disclaimer. I have no idea what happened (and neither do you) so there will be no censure or blame thrown around in this editorial. Remember, it was simply reported on and an investigation has started but we don’t know the whole story. Sure, it’s distasteful but I refuse to jump on the bandwagon of hate simply because of a story. Yes, if it can be proven that they did something wrong, they should be punished. But it hasn’t yet. And this article is about the bigger picture which seems to be lost – at least on the more gossipy websites.
Can it be proven?
This is my first point. When I the scandal first broke online, at least in the English language K-pop websites, it seemed like everyone immediately believed they were guilty. I come from a country (Canada) that believes in innocent until proven guilty and I think this is all the more important when the accusation is by a media outlet. Wait until we know the whole story before judging them please. Because reading about something on Allkpop doesn’t make it true. Okay, I know it’s on other places but it is still under investigation.
How were they able to go?
This is my second point and the most important in my mind. People keep throwing out angry comments about how they are abusing their celebrity status in the military but almost no one is blaming the military for allowing them that freedom. They weren’t AWOL unless I misunderstood. Celebrity soldiers appear to be allowed extra privileges.
While there were a few comments about treating them as regular soldiers, it really needs to be noted that the fact celebrities are treated differently isn’t the celebrities’ fault. You can’t allow them different freedoms and then get mad when they use them. Either there needs to be one set of rules for all or people need to get off their high horse and stop expecting celebrities to be like everyone else. They’re not. If I make a mistake, very few people know. If someone famous makes a mistake, the gossip sites – and often regular media – let everyone know. Their personal life isn’t personal and yes, they get treated differently. In just about every situation – good and bad.
If they went there without permission, that’s a different story but then I’d like to ask, “How were they able to get there?” I’m no military expert but someone had to give them permission to leave the base. I remember thinking this with the previous celebrity military scandal – I believe that one was about the number of days Rain spent on leave. Someone higher up in the command structure had to approve it. Why are the celebrities being blamed for using the privileges granted to them?
Why do we hold celebrities to such high standards?
This is my third point. While it happens all over the world, it seems particularly virulent in Korea. In one hand, fans talk about how celebrities serving in the military should be treated just like “regular” soldiers and on the other hand, they are held up to impossible standards. Not only is it contradictory but it’s also ridiculous. They’re famous, not perfect.
Do I condone going to a “happy ending” massage parlour (if they did go)? No, but neither will I condemn them for it if it’s a legal business. I don’t think it’s a good thing for a variety of reasons (umm, it’s kind of gross) nor a particularly smart thing to do knowing your every move is followed by crazy paparazzi but I’m one of those weird fans/writers that really doesn’t care what a celebrity does in their personal life (as long as it’s not illegal). I like their music or their acting or whatever; not their image – squeaky clean or not. I just want them to keep doing quality work.
Side note: And along those lines is the crazy expectation that some fans have about Korean celebrities that they can’t date. Umm, who cares? The chances of me ever meeting, let along dating, my favourite celebrity – even as a writer – are super slim so why should I care if he dates or marries. I love Kwon Sang Woo as an actor and yeah, for about all of one second, I was sad when he got married but it certainly didn’t stop me from watching his films or dramas.
Netizens’ and Fans’ Comments
This is my final point. I tend to stay away from controversy, even with my editorials, because I was taught that if I couldn’t say anything nice than I shouldn’t say anything at all. Of course, since I’m certainly not perfect I don’t always adhere to this maxim but I do try – and most of the time, succeed – to do so.
But seriously, comments like ‘I just wasted 10 years of my life being your fan’ drive me crazy. Really, a celebrity has one stupid night – that unless I’m mistaken, hasn’t been proven yet because the investigation is still ongoing (see point #1) – and it’s going to make you stop being a fan? Wow, talk about fickle! It kills me when I was reading comments like that on the online “stories” about the scandal.
Yes, this point is tied into the previous one but seriously, if you read some of the comments you would think they killed someone.
And that brings me to the end of my rant… I mean, editorial. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter! What do you think about the situation? What are your opinions on the expectations of perfect behaviour that is put on Korean celebrities? Do you think they should be treated the same?