I Don't Care If He's Your Oppa: Victim Shaming and Celebrity Worship

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We try not to take things too seriously on this blog, but every once in a while, it's time to get serious for a minute. Can we, the K-drama fan community, have a little heart-to-heart for a second?

In case you haven't heard, Kim Hyun Joong of Boys over Flowers and Playful Kiss fame is facing assault charges from a former girlfriend. I don't want to get into all of the details, but you can read the latest on it here and here. As is always the case with celebrity scandals, every article on the topic is covered with a wide range of opinions, from those who want to lock the guy up and throw away the key, to die-hard fangirls shouting, "Oppa, fighting!"

At this point, I don't really care to hash out everyone's theories on what may or may not have happened. Sadly, famous people--even handsome famous people--are capable of abuse. Sadly, it's also possible that she exaggerated or fabricated details to get a settlement. In either case, the outcome is disheartening and upsetting. The fact of the matter is that we don't know all of the details yet, though I will say that his admission to using physical violence even once is twice too many in my book. 

One thing I can talk about at this point is the fan response, which I find troubling. Hashing out all of the possibilities is one thing, but many of the responses demonstrate a lack of understanding about abuse. Here are a few samples of actual comments that just aren't okay. Let's discuss them, shall we?:

1. "I would like to know what made him so mad that he would hit. Did she hit him first?" 


"She probably provoke him and started to argue with him to get him to respond. Till he finally popped. Because normally nothing fazes him."

*Deep breaths**Deep breaths*  I'm going to try to keep my rage-o-meter down as much as possible, but things like this make it really hard. If Kim Hyun Joong hit his girlfriend, then he and he alone is responsible for his actions. Victims do not "make" abusers hit them. Even if she made him mad, she did not deserve to be hit. Period. 

2. "Hello, then she is an idiot, who stays with a man who is beating you up constantly? Another publicity hungry girl wanting to end someone's career. Does she know how to chew and walk at the same time? She so badly want to stay in the public eye so she is claiming abuse. Sorry, get a life which is your own."


"With the first slap she should have left, but she didn't. Since she admits this was happening more times than I care to know I blame her for not being smarter and not making the right choice. Anyone who stays in unhealthy relationship is not all there. I blame both parties never take side, since they are both to blame. One for hitting and the other for accepting it."

Still others questioned the validity of her claims because she didn't report him for two months. Here's the thing: When someone is an abusive relationship, it doesn't mean that she (or he, because abuse happens to men, too) is "weak" or "stupid." Why didn't she report him earlier? Maybe he apologized, and she believed he could change. Maybe she was afraid of the repercussions if she came forward about one of Korea's top stars (which is also probably why she's keeping her identity secret). You can read a full answer to this question here, but the "why" doesn't matter, and it doesn't undermine her claims.

There are many smart, talented, wonderful men and women who suffer abuse. It isn't our job to judge them for staying. It's our job to make it easier for them to leave.

3. "Idk but I will support him and I don't care about whats the true"

We should care about what's true. Withholding judgment until you get all of the facts is one thing. It's still seeking truth. Saying that you don't care what's true suggests that fame supersedes truth. When it comes to abuse, fame can't come first. If Kim Hyun Joong abused his girlfriend, she deserves to have the truth heard. She deserves to feel safe. If Kim Hyun Joong didn't abuse his girlfriend, then he deserves to have the truth heard. Either way, hiding the truth only multiplies injustice. 

I have to say that the vast majority of comments on the KHJ articles have been thoughtful and anti-abuse. Many of the comments I posted above had appropriate responses from other people. But these kinds of comments are widespread enough that we need to take a long, hard look at celebrity culture. Because if even one victim gets bullied into silence, it's one too many.


  1. It's unfortunate that much of Korean media (and if we're honest, western media as well) is marketed in such a way as to engender complete and total loyalty from fans, and I think, at least on the part of the Korean fans who are making these comments, that is playing a Large part in how they are viewing the situation. He's their bias, so he can do no wrong, and she's some nameless, faceless person with whom they have no loyalty to. Or, he's their least favorite actor, and therefore, they totally saw this coming, and she's immediately to be trusted. Clearly, he did physically abuse her at least once, but that's really all we know at this point. It's hard for people to accept that they will never be on the inside of these situations themselves seeing everything firsthand though. They want answers to make them feel better, so often, they will make up their own.

    It's a sad situation all around, and I hope that it can be resolved quickly, and in a way that is fair to all parties involved.

  2. I agree. I believe we must get all the facts (which, by the way, we may never hear it all) and not keep jumping on one or another soap box! The fact that they both got physical with each other shows neither one realized they needed to step away and deal with whatever the fight was about at a later time when they weren't so upset.

  3. Hi! I totally agree with you. Abuse is a very serious issue, but something even more serious is the lack of proper judgement, empathy and information. Just because someone has a pretty face doesn't mean he/she is a complete angel. Of course it's disappointing to hear that cases of mental or physical abuse still exisit. I'm totally open to listen to both sides of the story, at the end, truth cannot be hidden for too long.

  4. Ah this is an excellent article summing up my feelings about these kinds of situations - thank you for writing it! Intimate partner violence/domestic abuse is such an important topic to address, and I'm glad that you were brave enough to tackle it, even though you write a mostly fun/light-hearted blog about kdramas and you could have easily avoided talking about it. It was brave and important to bring it up, and you gained a reader for it (me! Loved the rest of your blog as well).

    Korean or American star, doesn't matter, these things happen and the fan response is often really saddening (I mean for goodness sakes CHRIS BROWN STILL HAS FANS! FEMALE FANS! I cannot even comprehend this. And every time I hear a kpop idol cite him as an inspiration I just want to vomit. WHY!?). I do recognize that fandom is sometimes taken too far, but it's still very uncomfortable to hear people ready to excuse their biases everything just because they play nice music or have good hair. (I'm not saying I approve of the other extreme - the crazy fan attacks, shaming idols for simple human errors/actions - it is okay for people to date, sheeeeesh - that can also occur - but why doesn't it ever occur during a situation like this, when it is actually warranted?!) Another troubling thought is that there are also people who are willing to make all these excuses for non-celebrities who commit violence, especially gendered or intimate partner violence... Again, that's why I thank you for your article - it's a really important topic that's too often ignored! I think/hope/wish that the more the topic is brought out into the open and really talked about the harder it will be for people to get away with it.

  5. I completely agree!

  6. This whole situation is so unfortunate. I hope the truth comes out for everyone's sake, and if it turns out that he has issues with beating women that he seeks the help necessary. If she is the one not being completely honest I hope she realizes that this kind of thing can seriously ruin a person's life

  7. I agree with your article. I also am greatly upset with the media articles that were being released before both parties were even interviewed by the police. I don't think it is our business until the authorities have sorted out what is going on - is it a false accusation? Obviously, hitting her once, shows that he is under enough stresses that he should get some kind of help no matter what charges there are - so he doesn't strike out ever again. His fans should support him in that respect, not ignoring that there are no issues. She also clearly needs some kind of support. She got those bruises somehow - whether from him or in order to make the claims that have been made. It's difficult to walk out of an abusive relationship - because you love that person. It's not as simple as a stranger on the street hitting you where you can just walk/run away and make a report. I think we all have to hold off on any kind of judgement until the truth has been found, justice has been served, and then we will know the best way to be supportive - not to be hateful (to either side) - no matter what.

  8. As a victim of spousal abuse, I see both sides of the equation. I can only speak from my own experience, where the physical and emotional abuse occurred in the first few years of my marriage. The shame of friends and family finding out I was being abused kept me silent until I decided to speak up and end the abuse when I could no longer endure it; and when I had a child who I feared would be affected by it. I'm still with the same partner, he and I had counselling, I learned the triggers to avoid with him and he learned to walk away from conversations that would enrage him further. And he's no longer violent. So it is curable.

    It's an unfortunate situation, but not unrectifiable. It also does not mean that KHJ is a demon, just a man with serious anger issues who needs to have professional help to deal with it. I also don't believe that it was a single occurrence, because I have heard that same excuse before when my spouse was question by my family "It happened only once...". It might have been similar to what I endured, one occasion that was so bad I had to go to the hospital and could no longer hide it from family. Either way, I hope for the best for both of them, as they say "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger".

  9. Thank you for sharing a bit of your story. I'm very sorry to hear it happened to you, but I'm glad you and your spouse were able to both get the help you needed.

    I'm also glad you made this point. As terrible (and unacceptable) as abuse is, the abuser is probably suffering from some very serious issues themselves (often, they were abused themselves at one point in their lives). They most definitely need to be seeing a professional therapist. Simply saying 'They are a terrible person' does not actually solve the whole problem. If we want abusers to stop abusing, we need to be encouraging them to seek the help they need. No one wins in a situation of abuse. Including the abuser.

  10. It's true. Even I get caught up in being a fan sometimes and forget that these people are just regular humans like the rest of us who sometimes do really bad things. No one is immune to screwing up.

  11. I would like to say their personal life is non of my business. I dislike when people judge every ones relationship.I learned 1 thing in life being in a personal relationship with someone is totally different than knowing someone .Every one wants to take sides.When my husband and I divorced. everyone wanted to hear my side or why why.My answer: My marriage is personal between he and I. I refuse to degrade him to justify myself. I owe no one information on my personal life. Therefor no one is stuck in the middle and can continue to remain friends with both parties.If u know a super star is human than treat him as so being an actor is his carrier not his personal life.So why can't everyone just let them deal with their personal life .

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  13. lover of many thingsJanuary 22, 2015 at 6:29 PM

    When you're a big fanatic you have to learn to draw a line. You have to know that the Actor/Oppa you love is still a person like you, a human being, and as any other person if they hurt someone they should be responsible for their acts. You have to stop thinking about your oppa and start thinking about that woman, who whatever the case is doesnt deserve to be punch. Because of loving a guy who you think you know, dont lose your humanity.
    Love people who are worth your affection.


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