With the recent controversial events surrounding actress Lee Ji Ah and 90s pop icon Seo Taiji, many fans are questioning the true identities of their favorite stars. It’s no secret that many Korean celebrities have stage names and lie about their age. Some celebrities go as far as deceiving the public about their academic backgrounds. Lee Ji Ah has three different names Lee Ji Ah, Kim Ji Ah, and Kim Sang Eun. The first is her official celebrity name; and there are rumors that her actual name was Kim Sang Eung but that she changed it to Kim Ji Ah before debuting. Similarly, her age remains in question. Her lawsuit paperworks state her age as 33 as opposed to 30, the age listed in her official profile. She also claims to have majored in graphic design at the prestigious Art Center, College of Design in Pasadena, California. However, this claim has not been verified.
Why is it that so many Korean celebrities lie about their true selves? Considering all the fabrications going around, lying about one’s weight and height seem like they are part of fan service – a sort of courtesy to fans.
Korean women are obsessed with looking young. Turn on a television in Korea, and you’ll see more commercials for anti-aging cosmetic products than for any other products combined. There is an influx of beauty products that promise to magically transform your aged skin to baby soft complexions. “Skin goddess,” actress Go Hyun Jung is publishing a book titled “Go Hyun Jung’s Textures.” She plans to reveal the secrets to maintaining beautiful young skin. Ordinary women purchase beauty books like Go’s thinking if they used the same products, ate the same food, and cleansed in the same manner as she, they will be able to prevent aging. It’s no wonder celebrities lie about their age. If they’re 28 but look like 22, why wouldn’t they change their age – especially when they live in a society where older women are viewed unfavorably. Unmarried women in their early thirties are viewed negatively. The derogatory terms spinster and old maid have been eliminated in most modern day society – except Korea. Actresses have to constantly compete with younger and younger stars for roles in dramas, movies, and their fans.
Debuting late is also one of the reasons why celebrities adjust their age. Age is a particularly sensitive issue with celebrities, and they try to make up the lost time by lowering their age. Actress Lee Shi Young of “Birth of a Rich” and “A Dangerous Meeting” has confessed that she was born in 1982, not the listed 1984, and that the age was adjusted to make up for debuting late.
Kim Tae Hee is a graduate of Seoul National University (SNU)
Koreans can’t deny the fact that they live in a materialistic society. They are very conscious of what neighborhood they live in, what cars they drive, and what sorts of designer clothing and accessories they have. Additionally, educational background is like a symbol of social status. It’s no lie that many people look up in awe when someone attends or graduated from a prestigious university. Let’s take actress Kim Tae Hee as an example. It’s a fact that she’s amazingly gorgeous, but did you know that she graduated from Seoul National University (the number one school in Korea)? She’s got both beauty and brains, making her that much more untouchable. She was able to differentiate herself from other beautiful actresses with her intelligence, and the public adored her for it.
Additionally, the mass media tend to make up the craziest acronyms – like um-chin-ah/ddal – and celebrities are pressured to fit into these images. Um-chin-ah/ddal stands for mom’s best friend’s son/daughter, the oh-so-amazingly-good-looking-and-talented kid you mother always compared you to. Some of the celebrities who fit into these categories include actress Kim Tae Hee, multi-entertainer Lee Seung Gi, and Miss Universe-turned-actress Honey Lee. What do these three have in common? A successful career as well as a diploma from a top notch university.
After listing all the reasons as to why stars fabricate their identities, it’s no wonder they do them. It’s the only way to keep up with the industry. Plus, it’s probably all the management agencies pressuring celebrities to lie, but I won’t delve into that now. We’ll just leave that topic aside for another day!