Yewon scandal draws criticism on celebrity behavior

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While filming reality TV show, My Tutor Friend, actress Tae Im Lee allegedly used coarse language when speaking to co-star Yewon Kim and eventually apologized publicly after receiving criticism online. However, further video evidence leaked by an anonymous source on March 27 shows that Kim initiated the dispute by speaking informally to her sunbae, a Korean term for an older peer, despite her earlier claims that she did not use such language.

In light of substantial evidence, the careers of both celebrities have been affected negatively. Kim will no longer appear in My Tutor Friend, as the show ended, and the actress is currently being pressured to stop appearing in another Korean TV show, We Just Got Married. At the same time, this incident, along with reported health issues, has prompted Lee to drop out of her drama, My Heart Shines.

In a culture where many young people look up to celebrities and public figures as their role models, there are rising concerns that celebrities are setting a bad example to follow by lying, using inappropriate language and behaving disrespectfully. According to the Korea Times, Koreans believe that celebrities need to be more composed and careful, especially as any news of their bad behavior attracts a lot of media attention.

“The line between public and private in Korean life is blurred,” said Christina Choi, Spanish teacher. “Celebrities are more vulnerable in Korea compared to the United States. I think [fans] think that they own [the celebrities]. They are absorbed by what is in the media. Here, talent is apparently based on character, which shouldn’t be the case. Celebrities have a lot psychological trouble, but no one cares about that.”

However, the current controversy connected to the Korean media has continued. On numerous occasions, news outlets have made factual errors because of their focus on releasing breaking news before their competitors. Not only is this true in celebrity scandals like this, but also in tragic cases such as the Sewol Ferry incident.

“People rely on the news for information and it is an obligation for companies to truthfully deliver stories,” Ray Lee (9) said. “It becomes a problem, especially if there are incorrect facts, because information spreads in matter of seconds. Imagine what the parents from the Sewol incident felt like when the numbers of the dead and the ones rescued changed every hour.”