The South Korean entertainment business has gone through quite a rough year in 2019 with massive scandals involving celebrities’ taxation fraud, drug use and solicitation, prostitution, drunk driving, and gambling offenses. In light of such controversies, the Democratic Party of Korea (더불어민주당) has initiated to pass a law on banning “criminal celebrities”, or stars who have histories of committing unethical crimes, from returning to the industry.
Representative Oh Young Hoon, the vice chairman of the party’s policy committee, suggested that celebrities who come with histories of criminal offenses – such as drug use, gambling, sexual assault, prostitution, drunk driving, and more – are setting bad examples for the Korean citizens and should not be allowed to return to the industry so easily. He drafted a legislation that would make it difficult for such celebrities to make their ways back on to the screens.
Chairman Oh commented, “Surveys show that 7 out of 10 teenagers in the country wish to enter or have thought of entering the entertainment business.” He added, as teenagers do make up a sizable portion of the audience targeted by K-Pop and other entertainment channels, the celebrities must be able to set good moral examples. Hence, the chairman explained, celebrities who commit unethical crimes and show no responsibility of being a “public figure” should not be allowed to keep influencing the audience.
The new policy pushes for the temporary / complete ban of the celebrities who have been sentenced to or served imprisonment for their criminal offenses. The policy also adds regulation for the broadcasting companies, stating that if such a celebrity does end up on a program and get air time, the responsible party will also be held up to 5 years of jail time or approximately $50K in fines.
Koreans, who feared the industry spiraling out of control with the recent series of scandals, have been actively voicing for some sort of action to regulate the celebrities who have criminal offenses from continuing to have so much influence over the general public. While most are optimistic about the new bill, many remain skeptical that it either won’t pass – as it can be seen as discrimination – or won’t be applied strictly, should it pass. The public pointed out that the law would ban only those who are sentenced / have served imprisonment and how that list of celebrities quite exclusive.