C’mon Give Irene of Red Velvet a Break

I don’t usually opine on current affairs or entertainment news. The recent bullying scandal involving a very popular K-pop female artist and a Korean female stylist got me thinking on a few things.

Oh, Irene. Be Strong!

The Background

This case is interesting, especially in a South Korean setting. Long story short, Irene the leader of Red Velvet one day got really angry with her stylist for reasons unknown. Some speculate it was due to a transmitter fell off her costume during a live performance. Anyhow, the female stylist was called into a room and was scolded by Irene for 20 long minutes.

Feeling terrible, the female stylist released a complaint on her social media account without naming the artist in question (avoidance of potential defamation lawsuit), but with hashtags that gave enough hints to who that would be. Irene together with her management company apologized to the stylist as well as to the public. The original post has since been removed by the stylist.

You would have thought that the story ends here.

But no. South Korea does things differently from the rest of the world. Netizens – some could have adored Irene in the past – turn against her. Some demand Irene to leave the girl band Red Velvet. I would not be surprised that some may form a hate campaign just to pressurize Irene into committing suicide. After all, the latter is not uncommon in South Korea.

Irene’s major commercial contracts have been suspended. The release of her upcoming movie has been postponed. I wonder what will happen to Red Velvet in future. I do like their latest single called “Future”.

My Thoughts

Just three.

First, I do not disillusion myself thinking that the person I see on-camera would be the same person I see off-camera. On camera, artists do their job to entertain. They say the right thing and smile the right way, looking stunning and do things that capture our attention. Even more so in the South Korean entertainment industry when everything is on overdrive – costumes, makeup, dance choreography, reality shows, sports events, and more.

Am I surprised that an artist may one day lose it and yell at people off-camera? I am not. If this was to happen in the West – think Ariana Grande – do people care that much? I may like Ariana’s music. But I don’t necessarily have to like her personality.

Second, gender bias. If the artist in this episode was a man and the stylist was also a man, would the magnitude of the blow-up be the same? Or a male artist yelling at a female stylist? Would that have been brushed aside?

Perhaps the local society is not ready for females who dominate like men do.

Third, the industry. Take the banking industry as an example. Is it free of bullies? Not really. But at least, there is a code of conduct and there are speak up channels. So, what is the norm within the local entertainment industry? It would be interesting to know. I reckon the entertainment industry has to take some responsibility here.

And So

I am not a huge Red Velvet fan per se. But I really like Irene & Seulgi sub-unit and their Monster mini-album. Despite what the netizens say, I do not think Red Velvet can survive without Irene. Irene is the visual and she is the leader.

Who knows? There may be yet another scandal from within South Korea somewhere somehow and people would simply forget this entire episode. After all, the public just needs something else, something juicer to turn our attention to.

Or better, like my buddy Yudha said, “Red Velvet will do a comeback after the depute of the new girl group (from the same company SM Entertainment) Aespa“. I think he is right.

Irene & Seulgi – “I am a little monster”

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