Its only the first week of January and the Korean media is already buzzing with a heap of scandal.
First off the bat is Rain who enlisted in the army in March 2012, and joined the Defence Media Agency (DEMA) like many other stars before him. Whilst not having used up his three official holiday days, he’s managed to take 94 official days for recording and other duties, overnight leaves – all of which amount to about a third of his enlisted time. Not much was said about this until it was revealed he was now dating actress Kim Tae Hee and perhaps some of his Official leave was not used appropriately. The story, which has even been picked up by the BBC, is gathering momentum with an online petition. Preferential treatment to stars does not go down well as singer Psy also knows – thanks to Netizens’ accusations he scored a rare ‘soft job’, he was made to repeat his service.
Psy’s luck has changed now of course and the phenomenal success of Gangnam Style has also brought success to Yang Hyun Suk, the CEO of YG Entertainment whose stock holdings have increased by 63% to 219.5 billion KRW (approximately $206.3 million USD) surpassing Lee Soo Man of SM Entertainment. With the Global Tour of Big Bang closing in Seoul this month and with Epik High now in the YG Family as of last year, it has certainly proved that focusing on a smaller number of projects is the key to success in a saturated market.
Cheongdam-dong in Gangnam however was more of a tragic place on January 2nd when the body of Jo Hyun-gil, Taewon Entertainment vice president, was discovered by his brother, just after 9am, in his car parked in the lot outside the restaurant he owned. The 48-year-old was the creator of the dramas IRIS, Athena, and movies 71 Into the Fire, and the Marrying the Mafia series. Whilst his family have stated that he “had complications with his heart and had to undergo surgery three times. He passed away because of a heart attack. There was no reason for him to commit suicide,” the police discovery of soju, sleeping pills and a small charcoal burner imply otherwise. A last message on his Facebook stated “I feel at peace because I have let go.” Condolences go out to his family having to deal with such a tragedy under the spotlight of the media.
Another less savoury piece of news is the arrest of Go Young Wook, a former member of Roo’ra. Accused of molesting a 13-year-old at the start of December last year, the incident of her entering his car was caught on CCTV. Accused of sexually assaulting another minor last year at his apartment, he was questioned for 7 hours at the police station and has requested a lawyer.
And finally Block B who are already courtiers of controversy (manufactured or otherwise) are suing their management company Stardom, wanting their exclusive contract to be nullified. They claim they have not been paid for a year and a CEO Mr Lee has run off with various funds. Stardom Agency refutes all of this saying that for a number of months there were no earnings, and thanks to their Thailand controversy1 they had an 8 month reflection period. The CEO Mr Lee is seemingly a fraudster who was originally hired as a manager and no longer employed by them. They regret the presence of individuals who are influencing Block B into the decision to sue and encourage mistrust between them and the company, and hope to solve this and fix the issues with the group directly. Both parties are denying the other is telling the truth, and fans crashed the website after flocking to get news.
An action-packed start to the New Year.
- During a TV interview they were making comments about the Thailand floods by offering ‘$6’ to help with funds. The general behaviour during the interview was disrespectful and upset the Thai fans of them and 2pm a lot (2pm has a Thai member). The comments and interview incurred the ire of other Korean artists who felt it reflected badly on the industry. [↩]