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Celebrities’ car accidents shed light on safety issues

Proceeding from the Open Concert in Daegu to Seoul, the Starex van carrying Ladies Code, a K-pop girl group, crashed into a guardrail on Sept. 3 at 1:30 a.m. Fortunately, members Zuni and Ashley survived with minor injuries. However, Eun-bi Ko and RiSe Kwon died after the accident and So-jung fell into a coma before awaking after a few hours.

“It was so heart breaking,” said Diane Lee (9), a K-pop fan. “It’s sad that, if it weren’t for RiSe’s  pre-debut popularity, the tragic accident would’ve been forgotten as an unfortunate event of some K-pop rookie girl group without receiving much media attention. In fact, the initial media hype has already died out.”

Several days after the Ladies Code accident, Seungri, a member of K-pop group Big Bang, also crashed into a guardrail on Sept. 12 at 3 a.m. while driving home. As a result of this accident, Seungri suffered minor internal liver bleeding and was unable to participate in the YG Family Concert in Singapore. Although both the police and YG entertainment have denied drunk driving, the public remains suspicious of the cause of the accident.

Both accidents have said to been caused by the passengers’ negligence of following safety regulations: Ladies Code members did not wear seatbelts while Seungri exceeded the speed limit and ignored traffic lanes. The Ladies Code accident had more drastic outcomes because of technical issues with the Starex’s back wheel and the air bags’ inability to protect the members.

“When I saw the black box video of the accident, I was surprised to see his Porsche cut across all the lanes very fast and hit a Mercedes in front of him,” said Eva Levine, a kindergarten teacher and a Big Bang fan. “He could have been on his cell phone or speeding too much. [Seungri] just got really lucky.”

These two different traffic accidents have caused controversy over Korean passengers’ neglect of safety regulations and an overwhelming percentage of defect airbags, with over 925 cases of malfunctioning airbags reported from 2010 by the Korean Consumer Agency (KCA). However, the public also blames the Korean entertainment industry’s rigor for such celebrity accidents.

“Korean idols’ schedules are often way too rigorous,” Jiyoung Kim (12) said. “Sometimes, it even seems like they are not considered as individuals but as robots that are manipulated by their company. For a healthier entertainment culture, it is imperative to assess the state of these stars.”

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