EXO. BTS. Girls’ Generation. 2NE1. Lee Min Ho. Park Shin Hye. Lee Jong Suk. Kim Tae Hee. These K-pop acts and K-drama actors are some of the biggest stars in their respective fields in South Korea. However, it is thanks to Hallyu, or the Korean Wave, they are such big stars around the world.
Created back in the 1990s, Hallyu — the increase of Korean culture outside of South Korea, specifically through entertainment — has returned tenfold for the nation. We can actually see the fruits of Hallyu’s labor throughout entertainment in general because of it. For K-pop, 2NE1 leader CL has an American debut that fans are actually anticipating. Not only that, her song “MTBD” was featured in one of the episodes of Lucifer. As for K-dramas, Descendants of the Sun is the most popular Asian drama in the world and is responsible for making many drama watchers into K-drama fans.
Unfortunately, Hallyu has a major side effect that is a bane on Korean entertainment: malicious harm towards Hallyu acts. As Hallyu increased the popularity of K-pop and K-dramas, many of their respective acts found themselves victims of privacy violations, malicious rumors, and yellow or tabloid journalism. For example, a rumor circulated that the Hallyu star of upcoming K-drama The Legend of the Blue Sea, Lee Min Ho, was dating American singer and songwriter Taylor Swift. According to numerous sources like International Business Times and Soompi, the rumor spawned from an article concentrating on one of the five fantasy pairings in a tongue-and-cheek amusement piece written by Channel News Asia. It would have been fine if the title of the article wasn’t written to make it sound like a fact that could have been misinterpreted.
For years, many Korean entertainment companies and agencies have turned a blind eye to such rumor drama, but now it seems they have had enough. Reports now show that SM Entertainment will now take serious legal action against individuals who harm their K-pop acts, Korean actors, and the rest of their signed talent.
SM Entertainment, the biggest entertainment company and agency in South Korea, made an official statement pertaining to taking serious legal action to protect their artists on Friday, October 7, as reported by Korean news outlet Naver, via translation by Soompi. Apparently, people violating South Korea’s cyber-defamation laws are not the only ones affected. Anti-fans and sasaengs may also go through the trials and tribulations of SM Entertainment’s new legal hammer too.
“Recently there have been repeated offenses of our artists’ personal information being leaked and stolen as well as other acts causing serious damage. On and offline acts of spreading rumors, circulating false information, leaking and stealing personal information, invasion of privacy against our agency’s artists, artists’ families, and artists’ acquaintances are expanding, thus material and psychological harm inflicted from these acts is at a serious level.
“We have decided that we can no longer tolerate and remain a spectator regarding these acts and will take strong legal action against invasions of privacy and other illegal acts in order to protect our agency’s artists.”
Thankfully, the warning does not target people who might have criticisms of SM Entertainment talent. For example, SM Entertainment will not target those who think Yoona is a bad actress. It also does not target people who express disappointment or anger towards SM Entertainment talent either. The South Koreans who were really angry at Tiffany for her Japanese flag scandal are off the hook as long as they don’t spread rumors about it, like saying she’s a spy for Japan or something like that.
To be frank, SM Entertainment incorporating such measures is a sign they are showing more devotion toward their talent. Anti-fans, sasaengs, rumor-spreads, and tabloid journalists have plagued the entertainment company, some for years, but probably the most well-known instance of them hurting one of their artists is Sulli. Numerous rumors and scandals have plagued the former f(x) member including pregnancy and dating scandals, criticisms for her lack of effort, and a fallout with the remaining members of f(x). If SM Entertainment had stepped up at the time, instead of just hoping all the negativity would pass, Sulli would probably still be with f(x).
Ultimately, SM Entertainment taking the initiative now to protect their talent from harm now is better than never. Anti-fans, sasaengs, gossipers, and yellow journalists can still do what they do, but they may find themselves doing it while paying hefty fines or within prison confines.
[Featured Image by SM Entertainment]