Theee Jung-jae Took Home A Leading Actor In A Drama Series At The Monday Night Emmys For His Role In The Netflix World Smash squid gamesuperior to the likes of The best of Saul on demandBob Odenkirk And the SuccessionJeremy Strong and Brian Cox. In the process, he made history as the first Asian man to win an Emmy Championship.
For his role as Seung Ji Hoon, a divorced father and indebted gambler who is lured into a deadly survival game with a massive cash prize, Lee emerged as the breakout star. squid game, which still ranks among the most-watched series on Netflix of all time (although he’s had a career in Korea for decades, including the Grand Bell Awards and Baeksang). Lee is arguably the most popular Korean actor in the world right now – and his star will rise even higher after playing the leading role in the assistantAnd the Next star Wars show.
But if we’re going to use Lee to celebrate all that’s cool and different about Korean TV, we also need to acknowledge everything else he represents — including how, Western-style, male Korean stars enjoy industry benefits that bend backwards to protect and preserve their image.
In 1999, Lee was arrested by Gangnam Police for driving under the influence of alcohol and causing him to crash into another driver, a 23-year-old woman. His blood alcohol content was 0.22 percent (in South Korea, the limit is 0.05 percent). Lee denied the charge, claiming that his manager was driving. Three years later, he was charged with the same charge.
That same year, in 1999, he and his friend attacked another drunk man and were accused of assault. He was charged with assault again the following year after he allegedly pulled a 22-year-old woman out of a Busan nightclub and kicked her, causing injuries that required two weeks of hospital recovery.
Fast forward to 2013 where, in an interview with Vogue KoreaLee appeared to his friend and prominent designer, Woo Jung Wan, shortly after his suicide. He told me before his death, “I said [him]’You should stop being gay. Wasn’t that way enough? He went on to describe Woo’s homosexuality as “an inconvenience.” Quotes were later pulled from electronic versions of the interview.
Fans say it was so long ago that it doesn’t matter. In fact, we must acknowledge and encourage growth if see her. But we didn’t. Lee did not contest the allegations in interviews or share any information about the steps he took to rehabilitate himself; Instead, they’ve all been wiped under the rug. We don’t know if this is the sum of my past. We can only judge by what we see, and as you can probably tell from the disappearance of these quotes, what we see of Korean stars is heavily curated – by the film and television industry, by the media, and by fans.
This is not entirely unique to Korea. It is, in many ways, universal to modern day celebrities. But while in the West this kind of reputation homogenization is often focused on humanizing celebrities, in Korea it is all about supporting an unrealistically ambitious model that cannot be compromised.
After all, when we get to know public figures as human beings, it is easier to attach their transgressions to them. In Korea, red flags are so carefully hidden under layers of branding that it might be impossible to get them off—at least if you’re a man.
It was the leeway that I had during these reports Compared to Johnny Depp. It’s the same kind of well-established, manufactured imagery that allows Depp’s fans to dismiss irrefutable evidence of his abuses – or even punish them.
So, too, Lee’s fans casually ignore reports of his assaults and homophobia. who cares? They ask, more interested in the image they’ve helped build over the years. That kind of violence simply doesn’t go away with the Lee Jung-jae they convinced themselves they knew, spurred on by the sprawling solutions to misogyny that protect men in the film and TV industry around the world.
The same misogyny that isolates Lee from these reports means that in Korea, men can escape accusations of sexual harassment and assault while rumors of bullying can derail Seo Ye-ji’s career, or Song Ji-a’s wearing of fake designer clothes causes her to be branded . Dishonest and stalking from social media.
“The same misogyny that isolates Lee from these reports means that in Korea, men can escape accusations of sexual harassment and assault while rumors of bullying can derail Seo Ye-ji’s career, or Song Ji-a’s wearing of fake designer clothes causes her to be branded . Dishonest and stalking from social media.“
The same misogyny allows Depp to continue to gather support and representation while Amber Heard may never work in the industry again – and other men use it as a way to discredit their accusers.
It’s easy for Western viewers to forget all this while watching Korean TV, and lose themselves in a culture that many of us know very little about. But if we’re going to partner with Korean TV (and we should, it’s incredible) we have to understand that what we’re seeing is a carefully created fabrication of what Korea should look like, and where anything is. could It is considered defective censorship of shows. And its stars are similarly insulated from ideas that go against Korean ideals—for example, that one of Korea’s biggest stars might not be as clean as directors, assistants, and supervisors want it to be.
I want people to fall in love with Korean TV – it’s a rewarding affair – and welcome the success of its stars in the global market. But we must also understand that beneath the stories of men like Lee Jong Jae achieving global stardom, there can be just as much darkness in places like Hollywood.