Celebrity Traffic Accidents: Brief Historical Overview and Reasons [Part 2]
In the first part of our look into celebrity traffic accidents we looked into the last decade of celebrity traffic accidents that unfortunately ended in serious injuries and death in some cases while also looking at more minor incidents involving a multitude of male celebrities. The second part of our article will look into the long list of female celebrity traffic accidents and also try and answer the question as to why Korean Celebrities seem to get into such a large amount of traffic accidents.
Once again, we apologize in advance if we happen to not mention a celebrity, it’s not done purposely, it is down to having a limited amount of time and the difficulty in finding every accident that has ever occurred over the last several years in enough detail to cover during this article.
Anyway we shall begin by looking at female celebrity traffic accidents.
We will start off this section by talking about what was probably the most severe of accidents over the last several years involving female idol groups.
In September 14 2007 at 1:30am, while returning to Seoul from a performance in Busan, idol group “Wonder Girls” got involved in a traffic accident when their van hit a taxi that was stationary on the highway. The “Wonder Girls” members and staff in the van were able to come away from the accident with just minor injuries but the driver of the taxi was not as fortunate and regrettably passed away in the accident.
The accident took a turn for the worse while the police was investigating the cause of death of the Taxi Driver. Various pieces of evidence was handed over to the National Scientific, Criminal and Investigation Laboratory and they showed that the taxi had not been stationary on the highway and was instead cruising along at 90km/h.
The case soon got a lot worse when it was found that Wonder Girls Manager that was driving on the day only had a Class 2 Drivers License and therefore was not legally permitted to be driving a 12 seater van, which requires a Class 1 Drivers License. JYP Entertainment were forced to issue an official apology while the manager was expected to be prosecuted for driving without a licenses and speeding, further details regarding whether the manager was ultimately prosecuted could not be found during the research for this article.
Luckily the “Wonder Girls” were able to quickly recover and made a comeback 13 days later on SBS’s “Inkigayo” however this didn’t change the fact that there was a loss of life involved in this incident and is a point that will forever be remembered by all parties involved.
Other girl groups have also got into traffic accidents and once again SM Entertainment have been unlucky in this regard with SNSD being involved in two traffic accidents over the last several years.
The first of these was an accident in 2007. As the members returned home after a radio program in two different vans, one of the vans got into a traffic accident when they hit a car merging into their lane. Most of the members were able to avoid injuries with Hyo Yeon being the only member injured during the accident, sustaining light bruises. Due to the lack of any major injuries, SNSD was fortunately able to continue their activities with minimal interruptions.
However in 2011, SNSD’s Soo Young got into a significant car accident while on her way to Cheonan to do volunteer work. She suffered a sacral fracture during the accident and has been forced to miss several schedules as she endeavors to make a full recovery.
Singer Bae Da Hae, who made her name on the KBS Variety Show “Qualifying Men”, had a minor traffic accident in 2010.
Other singers that have been involved in traffic accidents over the last decade include Trot singer Jang Yoon Jung and Bada in 2007.
Actresses were also not immune to traffic accidents and a significant quantity of actresses have been involved in a wide number of accidents.
There has been several recent accidents over the last year, the first of which was the traffic accident involving actress Yoon Son Ha from the KBS drama “Fugitive Plan B” when she got into an accident while returning home from her drama recording. She suffered fractures to her leg, which required surgery, and ended up forcing her to drop out of the drama for a month before making an appearance again near the end of the drama.
2011 has unfortunately not been a good year for actresses with several traffic accidents involving a significant quantity of actresses.
Actress Cha Ye Ryun from the movie “My Black Minidress” was involved in an accident on her way to the movie recording set but suffered no major injuries.
Actress Lee Na Young was involved in a motorcycle accident in June 2011 while recording a bike riding scene for the movie “The Howling” she escaped with just minor bruising and was back to recording after a few days rest.
Actress Kim Bo Mi from the movie “Sunny” was involved in a five car pile-up while going to an interview as part of her promotion for the movie but suffered no major injuries.
Her fellow movie cast member and one of the stars of the KBS Drama “Romance Town” Min Hyo Rin was involved in a minor incident when the van she was riding in suffered a puncture while on the way to a “Romance Town” recording. She suffered no injuries from this incident.
The stream of accidents continue with a substantial accident involving actress Park Shin Hye. While on her way home, the van she was riding in hit a guard rail and spun 160 degrees causing all four tires to separate from the vehicle. The vehicle sustained severe damage during this accident but fortunately Park Shin Hye only sustained minor injuries that forced her to delay recording for her MBC drama “Heartstrings” for a few days. She was quick to return to recordings. The cause of the accident was said to be “Driver Carelessness” and the Manager stated that they were tired while driving but whether they fell asleep has yet to be proven.
Not long after actress Hong Soo Hyun from the KBS drama “The Princess’ Man” was involved in a serious car accident that cause the entire front portion of her car to get completely damaged. The accident occurred when they tried to move to another lane to avoid a crash that had occurred previously but as they moved to the second lane they collided with a car driving in the lane. Hong Soo Hyun suffered injuries to her ribs but was lucky to escape further injuries despite the state of her car.
Actress Goo Hye Sun was involved in a traffic accident during her recording of the KBS drama “Boys Over Flowers” in 2009. She suffered no major injuries during this accident with reasons such as excessive fans at recording sites and excessive schedules stated as being some of the reasons which caused the accident to occur.
To finish off, we will mention a relatively absurd traffic accident. In May 2011 Actress Han Ye Seul from KBS Drama “Spy Myeong Wol” was involved in an incident where a man claimed that Han Ye Seul hit him with her car as she was entering her car park. Further investigation showed that the man was trying to commit a fraud and analysis of the security footage by the National Institute of Scientific and Criminal Investigations showed that the man’s claims were invalid.
So far we have done a brief historical summary of the various celebrity traffic accidents over the last decade, in our next section we will try to list some reasons as to why this list has been such a long one.
-Reasons behind celebrity traffic accidents
First of all, let us start by throwing out some numbers to highlight the severity of traffic accidents in South Korea. According to research conducted by the OECD International Traffic Safety Data and Analysis Group in 2009, South Korea had the second highest number of road fatalities per 100,000 people out of all OECD member countries. 12 out of 100,000 people in South Korea died in a road fatality in 2009, in comparison the USA had 11.1 out of 100,000 people and Japan had a paltry 4.5 out of 100,000 people.
A study titled “Road traffic accidents and policy interventions in Korea” by Bong Min Yang and Jin Hyun Kim from the School of Public Health, Seoul National University and Department of Health Administration, Inje University respectively showed that there has been an eight-time increase in road traffic accidents in Korean from 1970 to 2000, an increase from 37,000 to 290,481 accidents respectively with a three-time increase in fatalities and 10 times increase in injuries over the same time period.
All of these just show the severity of traffic accidents in South Korea but it fails to explain in specific terms why celebrities seem to get into such a large amount of traffic accidents. Of course celebrities accidents would get more exposure in the media hence making it seem like they proportionally get into more accidents than any other person. However that doesn’t explain why Korean celebrities seem to get into more accidents than celebrities from most other countries.
Due to time, length constraints along with a lack of expertise, we obviously can’t explore every single factor that could cause such observations so we will focus on what seems to be most commonly cited reason for celebrity traffic accident: driving while tired.
As you may have read throughout our two part article, you would have noticed that the vast majority of accidents happened late at night and after a full days’ work with the most cited reason for accidents being “driving while tired”.
According to a study by the US NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) on drowsy driving, they described the various characteristics of a crash that occurs when a driver is drowsy. These include factors such as accidents happening late at night/early in the morning, crash being likely serious, accident usually involves only one vehicle and occurs on high speed roads. I’m sure some people might be starting to see a correlation between these and a lot of the celebrity crash descriptions.
The same study also showed that there is a serious reduction in reaction time for a person that is sleep deprived compared to a normal person with some other studies claiming that driving after being awake for 18 hours is equivalent to have a BAC(Blood alcohol concentration) level of 0.05 which is over the legal drinking limit in most countries and states.
All of this shows that there is a highly increased chance of getting into a traffic accident when you are tired and we have also shown a lot of the characteristics of drowsy driving were shown in celebrity traffic accidents, so then why is it that celebrities and their managers/drivers constantly drive while tired?
With the increase in popularity for Korean celebrities both domestically and internationally, there has also been a sharp increase in scheduled activities that celebrities need to do per day.
According to one associate that works in the entertainment industry, “Since all the broadcast work and festivals in our country are done urgently and without delay, managers have no choice but to overexert themselves and engage in dangerous driving such as speeding and driving while tired.”
(An example schedule list showing SNSD going from Paris to Tokyo to Hiroshima to Nagoya to Fukuoka to Seoul within the course of a month)
In a report by the “Hankyoreh” newspaper, a manager for a popular idol group confessed that “Usually we drive over 200km in a single day but we could also drive 1000km if we have to immediately go to Kangwon Province after finishing a night recording at Mokpo” while the same report also described how a usual celebrity vehicle would cover 60,000 km in a year. Continuing with the same report, one associate described how “There was one manager that went from our Seoul Offices to a concert stage in Daegu in just one hour and 30mins”. This distance between the two locations is around 280km, so if this is true the manager would have done an average of 200km/h.
All of this is the result of increased schedule pressures on celebrities over the last couple years as their popularity increased and an increase in expenses required to maintain idol groups and dramas. With one show recently describing how it costs at least an average of USD$65,000 a month to maintain a seven member female idol group, the only way to sustain themselves has been to increase the amount of schedules they do per day.
This also applies with dramas as well, with the increase in popularity and scale of Korean dramas over the last couple years, there has been a need to produce more and more elaborate dramas involving more locations, sets and scenes. This increase in scale has unfortunately has not been accompanied by an increase in time to produce dramas, with a lot of dramas being aired nearly “live”, which in recent years have meant that some dramas will still be recording the episode on the same day as when it needs to air, with stories about how the drama tapes are handed over for airing just a few minutes before actually being aired. All of this means that celebrities have less and less time to get to their various recording locations and this has forced to work long hours and travel excessively to meet the production schedules of a drama.
Of course we could go on about other factors such as driving culture in Korea etc but that would mean we would be here all day discussing every single point about traffic accidents and that would be much too long and beyond my own level of knowledge and understanding so I will finish off this point with a positive point.
Many of you will see the pictures and read the descriptions of celebrity traffic accidents and be amazed at the extent of an accident yet the vast majority of time celebrities tend to get away with just minor and recoverable injuries and a lot of this comes down to advancements in car safety technology over the last couple decade.
After the traffic accident involving actor Lee Min Ho, his agency described how “He was able to avoid a major accident thanks to his airbag and seat belt”. Describing every single safety advancement would be beyond my level of expertise and make this article much longer than it already is, so I will instead show you a video that should visually show to you how much car safety has improved over the last several decades.
Over the last two articles we have looked into the large quantity of celebrity traffic accidents over the last decade ranging from serious accidents causing death and permanent injuries to minor accidents with little injuries, however the vast size of these articles shows that unfortunately celebrity traffic accidents are a frequent occurrence and a lot of this is down to the excessive schedules that need to be carried out by celebrities in recent years. We hope for the day when traffic accidents become a non-existent event but until then we can count on the fact that improvements to vehicle safety has ensured that more and more people escape from major traffic accidents with little to no injuries.