|Illustration by Trịnh Lập
By Nguyễn Mỹ Hà
The recent revelation that K-Pop star Seungri has been implicated in a sex scandal has rocked the entertainment industry in South Korea and hit Vietnamese fans like a devastating typhoon.
On various Facebook Big Bang fanpages, news of the latest developments are being updated regularly. The biggest fanpage Big Bang VN, which has nearly 300,000 followers, ran a piece about Seungri after his 16-hour testimony with police on Wednesday.
“Seungri has asked to defer his military service for three more months from March 25 until June 25, so that he can have more time to co-operate with the ongoing police investigation,” reads the latest post on the fanpage.
The snowballing scandal had prompted RoK President Moon Jae-in to order a thorough investigation into the drug and sex scandal, allegedly involving the former member of Big Bang.
“The current leadership of the prosecution and police should stake the fate of their organisations with responsibility on uncovering the truth and becoming a law enforcement agency that can reveal its own shameful acts to regain trust,” the President’s spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom was quoted by Korea’s Yonhap news agency as saying.
The scandal had grown bigger and according to Yonhap, Seungri faces allegations of arranging sex services for potential investors from overseas. Seungri has sent his apologies to fans, but some have critisised him for not offering a sincere apology to the victims.
Fans of the group whose ages range from early teens to early 30s and older have never found themselves so divided, and have been confronting each other over the case.
One account tries to be understanding of the agony so many fans are experiencing: “Please, accept the truth. Over the past nine or ten years, I have put my love in the wrong place.
“You need to accept the truth and move on. If you ignore what he did and are still fond of him, then you’ll be untruthful to yourself. You know what is right and what’s not and betraying your own values is a grave mistake you’ve done to yourself.”
This comment received responses from a shower of other fans who tried to tell her to keep quiet. “If you are a true VIP, then be silent,” reads one comment. “Go away, remove yourself from Big Bang fandom. Don’t even call yourself a fan,” reads another.
New comments on previous clips of Seungri, which were supposed to be fun and loving at the moment they were posted, are now making diehard fans cry.
As parents of a true Big Bang fan, we have had to cope with our teenage daughter bursting into tears at the dinner table.
“Hey, have you heard about this latest scandal involving…”, my husband started. “Stop it, Daddy, don’t say it, I know what you’re talking about,” she said, then could not hold back the tears.
Our child is not alone in coming to terms with the dethroning of one of the idols she looked up to growing up. Hundreds of thousands other young people have had to deal with their own feelings as well.
Some decided to stay quiet; some decided to speak out trying to support their idol during this storm, some criticised the brutal entertainment industry for putting the pressure on him.
As a fan of Big Bang my daughter remembers the lyrics to hundreds of their songs, and has written them down and stuck them on her bedroom walls. Loving Big Bang means learning to read and write Korean, looking for the band’s latest releases, and being heartbroken when four out of five members had to serve their military service.
“I found out about it last week,” she later confided in me. “But I tried to hold it back, hoping I would find out it wasn’t true. When I looked at the posts on our fanpage, I didn’t dare to scroll down through the comments. And when I read he had apologised, that was it.”
As fans, we tend to look up to the stars not only for their music and songs, we also look up to them as decent people.
This is where reality kicks in: When you like or love an artist, as you can definitely put it in this case, you tend to like everything relevant to the person: even their favourite things, habits and places they go. You idolise and attach to them many qualities you deem good, but you don’t get to interact closely enough to know if they really have those qualities.
The scandal’s devastating effect will put an end to the music career of Seungri.
The fans still weep over their favourite melodies, the music they grew up with.
We hope that our love and support during this hard time and a busy schooling schedule will help them survive this crisis and make them stronger.
What remains of this long relationship with the Korean band is music and a third language, after Vietnamese and English. VNS