The Korean justice system was very busy this week dealing with the Korean entertainment industry, with several cases ending and a few new ones coming up as if to take their place. The driver who was responsible for the car crash that killed EunB and Rise received his prison sentence, and so did Lee Byung Hun‘s blackmailers. A religious organization threatened some B1A4 fangirls with jail time and fine and the ever-so-popular Clara is at legal war with Polaris Entertainment.
Of course, as it is with K-Pop, nothing is quite as straight forward as it would seem.
Reading the comments, people seemed to be split between thinking that it was too much or too little of a sentence for the manager of Ladies’ Code who was responsible for the car accident. For me, I think the sentence is fair. Korea is not known for lengthy prison sentences, and I don’t think anyone believes that he intentionally crashed the car. He was speeding and it was rainy, and the combination of the two resulted in something very tragic. It doesn’t matter if he serves a few months or many years in jail, there is nothing that can really make up for what was lost
Some people were critical of the manager, saying he had no excuse to be going that fast in those condition. I don’t want to pardon him, it was reckless for sure, but I can’t hate him for it. I think managers have thankless jobs. They have to deal with the same hectic schedules and chaotic demands as the idols, but they don’t get any of the fame. They don’t make that much money either (this is why every once in awhile you’ll hear of a celebrity buying their manager a car). Considering that and Korea’s cultural dismissal of traffic laws, I’m not shocked that he was speeding. I bet he was tired and, like everyone else in the car, wanted to get home as soon as possible, so he made the poor decision to drive fast.
My only hope from such a sad event is that people learn from this and make smarter decisions on the road. Something like this could have been avoided, and hopefully other managers (and everyone else) will be more careful to prevent other such tragedies.
[Just a side note: In Korea, most traffic accidents happen at night, for various reasons. There is drinking and darkness, but one factor that people forget about is that there are less cars. During the day, it is really hard to get into a major accident in the city simply because there are too many cars; the streets are so congested that there is no room to cause major damage or even go very fast. This is why most of the car accident reports you hear about happen at night and out of the city.]
Oh boy, this one is harder for me to be sympathetic. Making poor decisions is one thing, making stupid decisions is another. From the beginning I couldn’t help but shake my head whenever we reported on this. I understand wanting to blackmail Lee Byung Hun for being a creep, but it’s hard for me to believe that at any point, the girls thought they could get away with it.
I can’t be sympathetic for anyone who associates with Lee Byung Hun. Great actor and charismatic man that he is, everyone knows he is sleazy with questionable morals (and this is me being very polite in my word choice). I don’t feel sorry for Lee Min Jung because she had to know what she was getting into when she married him. I don’t feel sorry for Lee Ji Yeon for being in a relationship with him and for dragging her friend along. I don’t feel sorry for Dahee who thought that Lee Byung Hun could be shamed into blackmail. Did they really think he had a lot to lose if people found out about the sexual things he said?
Avoid threatening men who have great power and wealth. They feel very entitled to their status and will take you down if you try to mess with them. Lee Byung Hun could have sued the girls or quietly threatened their agencies, but instead he pulled out all his guns and got them jail time. How many other female celebrities do you know who are in jail? How many other female celebrities have messed with Lee Byung Hun? Most are smart not to.
In short, I would not pick a fight with Lee Byung Hun. He must have terrified Lee Ji Yeon’s mother for her to make an apology like that.
But don’t worry, I don’t think the two girls will be in jail for the whole year. They’ll appeal with tears and repentance, and their sentence will mostly likely be reduced. Meanwhile, Lee Byung Hun will be enjoying his “Terminator” money and fame.
I have very limited knowledge on JAWI or even the Muslim religion, but I don’t think I’m totally off when I say that those girls won’t get jail time. This is one of those situations where I think everyone and nobody is at fault. Here are the groups of people who should have known better:
-The fan meeting organizers: Out of everyone involved, I think these guys is most responsible. If you’re going to have a fan meet in another country, you should know cultural and religious taboos of the area before setting up events like reenacting love scenes from dramas. If they did this like most other overseas K-Pop event, there should have a local organizer who helped set this up. They should have been the one who said, “I don’t think hugging and kissing fans is a good idea.”
-B1A4’s agency: I originally wanted to go on this long rant about how Korean entertainment companies remain stubborn and ignorant about the cultural responsibilities that come with a globally expanding industry, but maybe another time. Regardless, the agency should share in the blame for this event because they could have done some research. Instead, they thought they could do whatever they do in Korea, except have a translator, because if it works in Korea it should work in every country (that last part was ladened with sarcasm, FYI.)
-B1A4: I don’t really think B1A4 is very responsible for this incident, they were just expressing their gratitude to their fans. I don’t really expect idols to do more than practice, perform and do whatever their agency tells them to do. I’m not surprised they didn’t know and don’t blame them for it.
-The fan girls: Okay, I get it, they were living the dream. Their favorite idols from another country was in front of them, offering them hugs and kisses. I’m sure it would have been hard to turn down such an opportunity. However, as important K-Pop is to people, I don’t think it should go above these three things: Family, Morals, and Religion. Hopefully, those girls didn’t compromise themselves for a hug and a kiss. Either way, those poor girls have been ridiculed and criticized enough as it is. I hope this all blows out soon.
I don’t like it when people suspect a woman is lying when she calls out sexual harassment. It is hard enough as it is to report or come out publicizing about such things, suspicious just adds more fear of rejection or criticism.
Yet, Clara has not done herself a favor with her dishonest past and polarizing personality. I can see why people aren’t too keen to believe that she is being totally truthful about being sexually harassed by the CEO.
Clara says that she received sexual and harassing texts from the CEO, and wants to end her contract with Polaris. Polaris says that Clara has been really difficult and is slandering the company to get out of contract. This is what I do when two sides release opposing statements like this: believe them both.
So, I do believe that Clara received creepy messages from the CEO, and I believe that she has been difficult to work with for Polaris. The way I see it, she must have concrete evidence for a law firm to take on her case, but if she had been very hurt and offended by the texts, she would have pressed charges instead of suing to end her contract.
Either way, this is not a good time to be associated with Polaris. The future doesn’t look very bright for this agency, which is a shame, because when I talked to someone in the company last year, that person only had good things to say.
Unless something major and pressing happens, the next Noona Says will be answers to your questions and suggestions! Leave her a question in the comments below (or tweet at her) and Noona will answer them in next week’s post.
*The opinions expressed in this editorial are solely those of the author.