The Lies, Insanity, and Hypocrisy of the Choiza & Sulli Story
The Choiza-Sulli scandal is probably one of the funniest ones to have ever come out of Korean entertainment. There were so many ironies that forced fans to face the hypocrisy and realities that dominate the industry they so love.
Before we decide whose fault is this mess, let us understand several things.
Things to Understand
Sulli, a member if the girl group f(x), has been packaged as the kiddie innocent baby of SM. She has the face and demeanor for it. In variety shows, she has always been timid and giddy. She appears innocent and other people have subscribed to this by treating her like a little girl that must be cared for all the time.
Whether that demeanor is a put on or genuine is a different question altogether. That is what is being shown to the public. Hence, that is the "truth" that everyone knows.
Choiza, on the other hand, is the street thug who made a career in the most gangsta way possible. He is not conventionally good looking and hangs around equally thug friends who have been involved with drugs and other controversies that make Koreans question their morality.
When photos of Sulli walking hand in hand with Choiza came out, together with photos that seem to indicate Sulli spent the night at Choiza's place, SM entertainment denied any romantic relationship.
Immediately, speculations came about that the two are indeed in a relationship based on other photos and incidences that netizens generously scrutinized. With no word from either party, it looked like the rumor was going to die a natural death until Choiza lost his wallet containing photos of Sulli and him. This was followed by another photo of them on a date.
SM then confirmed the relationship and so did Amoeba, the agency Choiza owned.
There was so much anger towards the relationship and that is presumably the reason SM asked Sulli to go on an indefinite hiatus.
Netizens accused Sulli of being a hypocrite and a liar while Choiza was insulted for dating someone out of his league. Many fans expect Sulli to date another idol or a rich businessman or a Hollywood actor or a Prince. They felt she is stupid for dating Choiza while Choiza is an opportunist for hooking up with someone so young and fresh.
These reactions, no matter how silly, isn't at all that surprising. Koreans always reserve the right to demand a certain behavior from the celebrities they support and that includes who they should or shouldn't date.
Why Are Idols "forbidden" to fall in Love
It is no secret that contracts of idols include a "no dating clause". There are companies that don't impose this but they are few and far between. The question is why companies even forbid it.
It's hard to deny that celebrities are packaged in such a way that when you watch them grind their hips, it's like world peace depend on it. They come up suggestive promo photos even though it contributes to neither the form nor content of the material they are promoting.
With it comes the illusion of availability. They sell their looks and the fantasy of their bodies. They are objects to be had and if they are off the market, there isn't much point in selling them, right?
For fans to support these celebrities, they should be, no matter how remotely, "available" for the fans. Fans must be given that slight glimmer of hope that they have a chance.
It's All About Image
When boy bands or girl groups are formed, members are given an identity. There is the leader, the cute maknae (youngest), the mysterious one, the boy next door, the innocent and pure, and a whole lot of other personalities.
In Korean entertainment, the "art" is a secondary concern. Fans support celebrities based on their personalities. That is why new boy bands are given reality shows and are thrown into variety shows they showcase their "characters". If these celebrities manage to get attention, they garner fans even before their album is launched. In a sense, their popularity determines how much more investment their agency will make.
Sometimes, the management company isn't the one to assign the celebrity's image. DBSK famously said they were the ones who decided on their image.
The bottom line is that these supposed artists are packaged and made to sell their personalities from the get go.
The market is provided with an image of a celebrity and based on this image, they decide on the amount of support they will give. It is not the celebrity's craft or work that is sold, it's their personality. As such, when it is proven to be a fake, fans feel betrayed and no one likes being betrayed.
Their Personal Life is No One's Business
I ultimately agree that anyone's personal life is no one's business but if these idols agree too, they would not sign the contract or get into the industry. If one signs their name on the dotted line, it only means they agree to make their personal life someone else's business.
Others might argue that they want to work or perform. There are other ways to perform. The problem is that they participate in forming this illusion to achieve their goals and when they realize that there is a trade off to their ambition, they resent the very industry that afforded them their success. And yes, this is a story that is true even to North American young pop stars.
It is not an ideal situation but a realistic one and it will take more than a few idols speaking out against these unrealistic expectation for it to change.
I know people will say their success is a product of their hard work but it's the kind of work that fits the industry of the idol world.
An idol world kept afloat by devoted fanbases who buy those CDs by the hundreds just to make sure idols get their sales up. These are the fans that follow them in all of their concerts even if they have seen it ten times just to make sure their concert gets sold out.
For every action there is an equal reaction. You sell your personality, fans will expect to get what you sold them.
Further, if the celebrities feel that their personal life is no one's business, then why deny it in the first place? People could claim that these young idols don't have a choice but there is always a choice. The choice may be a career or termination of contract but there is always a choice.
If these celebrities opt to choose something else over their relationship then it may not be the right relationship or the right time. Either it's not a relationship worth fighting for or the idol isn't ready for the possible backlash because there will be backlash.
Back to Choiza and Sulli
The fans have some, as silly as it may sound, right to be angry. SM lied to them. After all the support they have shown Sulli, SM lied to them.
Is Sulli to blame?
Well, the girl fell in love. How do you go against that? Yeah, she participated in strengthening her baby image but she fell in love.
However, I don't think fans are angry about the fact that she fell in love but that she fell in love with Choiza. Much of the castigation is brought about by the fact that Sulli is dating a non-idol, a rapper who was born for the Korean Ghetto hip hop culture.
Choiza hit jackpot and Sulli is stupid for dating someone who is only occasionally recognizable.
What many miss is that Choiza writes his own songs and achieved mainstream success without a contract that includes a dating ban, an agency that hits him in the head for "wrong behavior" and people telling him what to do or say. He has his own company and manages other artists who have just as much freedom to pursue their artistry without signing a no dating clause.
Choiza is a self made man.
By all accounts, it is Choiza that's a good catch and it's Sulli who hit jackpot.
Fans cannot be denied of the right to be angry given everything that has been said but their anger shouldn't be directed at Choiza. It should be directed at SM for lying and subjecting idols to strict rules, haters for hating, (perhaps most importantly) themselves for not fighting for Sulli, and if they are pushing it, Sulli for fooling them.
The original story was published 6 years ago.
Sulli started an acting career when she was a child and was still a child when she joined f(x).
After the scandal, Sulli left the girl group f(x) but remained with SM Entertainment. She pursued an acting career and transitioned to more mature roles, completely breaking away from her girl group image. She asserted her independence and started working on building a more mature image. She also went on to launch a solo singing and hosting career.
Sulli took her own life which prompted talks against several long standing issues such as culture of hate and idol treatment. As of October 22, 2019, no concrete action has been taken.
Her celebrity friends has talked about Sulli's long standing battle against depression. Past interviews, social media posts and videos of her showing signs of and talking about depression have also resurfaced.
Depression is a far more complex problem. There is nothing more dangerous than people making assumptions about depression, causes of suicide and what may be done about it. If you are or someone you know is battling depression, call 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
To All Those Leaving a Comment
- Note that this story was originally published back in 2015. I updated it.
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