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FAIRYTALE ENDING CYBERCULTURE

Song Joong Ki and Song Hye Kyo, the Korean celebrity power couple, shocked their nation with the announcement of their divorce.

Joong Ki, 34, met his wife when they starred in a highly successful KBS drama, Descendants Of The Sun. He played a soldier and Hye Kyo, 37, played a doctor. In the series, they slowly fall in love with each other.

There is a common practice in Korea and in Asia that fans of celebrities tie their emotional currency to a star(s) from a fictional portrayal into a real life romance. “ShipperŐs” are the hardcore fan who dreams that their favorite celebrities will get together in real life. OTP (Only True Pair) is a literal component of most K-dramas as the leads are written to find true love in the end of the series.

 

 

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VOLUME 18 NO.11

EXAMINE THE NET WAY OF LIFE

JULY, 2019

 

IN THIS ISSUE:

 

FAIRYTALE ENDING

FOUND BUT NOT LOST ON THE INTERNET

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Shippers shipped especially hard for the “Song-Song” couple to get together in real life. Stories circulated on-line and in gossip publications that during the filming of the series in 2015, Joong Ki was very nice, kind and considerate of his co-star, Hye Kyo on the set. The attention he gave to her brought out a possible connection between the two in fans' minds.

The idea of shipping a celebrity couple during a television series is a double edged sword. The idea of a blossoming real romance adds to the fan excitement and experience in watching the fictional series unfold. The concept of a watching a real relationship unfold before your eyes is voyeur crack as fiction and reality begin to merge. The more shippers believe something will happen, the more anticipation and hope is shown for the couple.

But it also creates pressure and problems for the shipper's couple pairing. Agencies and advertisers promote a wholesome, innocent image of stars to the general public. A rumor of a celebrity dating can cause negative career repercussions because the fantasy that that celebrity is single helps sells star (and the corresponding project) to the consumer. Once that innocence is lost in a dating or other scandal, stars are dropped quickly to the status of an entertainment outcast.

The irony is that Korean society until recently would have forbade this couple from even being considered marriage material. The Korean Civil code prohibited couples with the same surname from marrying each other. In 1997, that provision was ruled unconstitutional.

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Local media stories stated the divorce marked a crushing end of their much-blessed romance and union formed through the mega hit drama series which peaked at a 39 share of the audience.

It was actor Joong Ki's first acting project since his two-year military service ended. There was great interest from his fan base on what his first post-military project would be. For actress Hye Kyo, her role in Descendants of the Sun was newsworthy as it was her first TV appearance in about three years. The preproduction buzz over the project and the stars created the foundation for future relationship rumors.

Rumors about their real romance emerged in March 2016 and later when fans allegedly captured the couple on a “date” in New York City, but the two sides firmly denied the couple was dating. But rumors persisted in fan chats and SNS. After several more denials, the couple made a surprise announcement of their engagement in July 2017. Shippers were head over heels with the marriage news, as it confirmed their long sought desires and speculation. It validated their emotional investment in the couple.

The wedding in October, 2017 was described as the entertainment industry's Red Carpet event of the year. Superstar celebrities and friends of the couple filled the newspaper pages and TV news features. Everyone seemed happy.

But one fall-out from the Song-Song marriage was the increased level of fandom looking to play matchmaker with other celebrities. Famously, the intense romantic chemistry in 2018's Pretty Noona Who Bought Me Food (Something in the Rain) between A-list actress Son Ye Jin and younger, first time romantic lead Jung Hae-In brought shippers pressing that the pair become a real couple based upon their playfulness together during the show's publicity events. Both sides denied the dating rumors. Then later in 2018 with the release of Son Ye Jin's movie, Be With You, led to new dating rumors with costar, So Ji-sub based upon the same fan reasons. The irony is that during those promotions, So Ji-sub began to date a news reporter who had interviewed both of them. Then in early 2019, Son Ye Jin was caught up in another dating rumor, this time with The Negotiation costar Hyun Bin when photographs of them grocery shopping in LA hit the internet. Both stars denied the dating rumor on several occasions. But once the pair decided to star in a new cable television series, the shippers believed that there belief was confirmed (in their own minds). In 2018, Son Ye Jin clearly stated that she was not looking to date because she was focused on her career; that she could not handle both at the same time.

The ramification of the Song-Song marriage was that fans no longer accept star dating denials as truth. Major stars like Son Ye Jin and Hyun Bin can weather the negative implications of such rumors, but lesser actors, singers or entertainers can have their careers shut down by such publicity and rumor.

It gets worse when the fairytale crashes and burns in divorce.

Joong Ki was the one who filed for a mediated divorce. This is a procedure where a party seeks divorce but seeks to arbitrate the issues (such as property) to have a negotiated settlement instead of having a public trial. Hye Kyo's agency responded to the divorce filing news to indicate the reason for the divorce was "personality differences."

But statements from both actors to the public to respect their privacy in this matter were forgotten. Quickly, Internet speculation for the causes for the break-up (and placing blame) was rampant.

This story shows how wild speculation can overwhelm the facts of a news story. Some commentators believed (without any factual basis) that since Joong Ki filed for the divorce, Hye Kyo must be blamed for the break up. Wild rumors spouted that one or both parties were cheating with their current television co-stars. Actor Park Bo Gum, who is a friend of Joong Ki, strongly denied any rumor that he was a reason for the divorce between the couple. He went to state that his agency would sue anyone who stated that for defamation.

There were other speculative reasons for the divorce sewed like dandelion seeds in the wind: the couple fell in love with their characters and not each other; it was just a publicity stunt; career schedules conflicted with personal time; the honeymoon period was too short; their engagement period was too short; someone did not want to have children; issues on how finances would be handled; their age difference; the media attention and fan pressure on the couple led to a breaking point. None or all of these reasons could possibly be part of the "personal differences" cited by Hye Kyo's representatives as the reason for the divorce. In the end, it really is not the public's business in what a happened in their private relationship.

The Korean entertainment site Soompi reported that several brands have been questioned about their model Song Hye Kyo following the news of her divorce. According to news outlet Kukmin Ilbo, the advertising industry is currently dealing with the aftermath of rumors that are spreading about Song Hye Kyo and Song Joong Ki's divorce. Although the two actors served as advertising models for a number of brands, some are reportedly considering replacing them due to rumors of conflicts as well as affairs spreading wildly on the Internet “From the perspectives of companies that value brand image, they're in a situation where they must quickly replace their advertising model,“ an advertising industry source said.

A source from cosmetics brand Amore Pacific, which has worked with Song Hye Kyo since 2001, stated, “We are not considering changes such as the replacement of models (due to this incident). We are not in a position to say anything as it deals with [Song Hye Kyo's] personal life.“ Other companies, including bottled water brand ICIS, have not released official statements. News outlet Viewers reported additional statements made by Amore Pacific and Dyson, which revealed that there were no [clauses] about personal issues in their contracts. SueComma Bonnie also stated, “ThereŐs still time left in the contract, but we havenŐt decided anything in regards to contract adjustments.” Song Hye Kyo is currently working as an advertising model for a number of brands, including Dyson, Amore Pacific, sunglasses brand Vedi Vero, and ICIS.

Considering how conservative Asian advertisers are, the fact that rumors blame Hye Kyo for the break up puts pressure on them to back away or reconsider their endorsement contracts. For top stars, endorsements are a major component of their annual income.

It is not that either party cannot weather the publicity storm. It was reported that the couple may collectively own $130 million (US) of real estate. Whether any of those assets is at issue in a marriage of such a short duration is questionable. But the long term ramifications of divorce (and its social stigma) of Asian celebrities is a mixed bag but trending toward the negative.

It is notable that the Internet and social media can build up then tear down anything, including celebrity relationships. Fans should be careful about what they wish for, because it had lead to hardship down the road. Clearly, the Song-Song couple knew that their relationship would be in the spotlight. They tried to hide it while they tried to get to know each other. Whether they rushed their engagement in order release some of the pressure is not known. Whether they got married quickly thereafter to stop the gossip press from hounding them during engagement period is not known. What is known that the “perfect” couple on paper can be an imperfect match in reality. For the Song-Song couple, the spotlight of their divorce is going to burn harsher than their dating scandal.

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FOUND BUT NOT LOST ON THE INTERNET

Photoshopping pictures is nothing new. But advancements in Artificial Intelligence programs has created a new form of image alteration: the AI realistic computer graphic photo. The image on right was created by a program called DeepNude. The nudity is created by algorithms ( based upon source materials). Celebrities are concerned that troublemakers will use programs such as this to damage their reputations by releasing totally fake nudes into the Internet

Source:sputnik news, Vice

 

The Japanese do not get enough credit for being creative in solving simple problems with elegant solutions. Moms and Dads have to go to the bathroom. They had a young infant with them. Do they set the baby on the dirty bathroom floor while they do their business? No, that is not a good solution. An inventor created a simple baby holder that can be installed in each stall where the baby can sit. Remember when baby changing tables first came to public restrooms? This possibly could be the next wave of infant plastic products.

Source: Neatorama

The China movie market is the second largest in the world. Chinese people like to watch movies. However the government strictly controls what types of movies can be shown. When the critically acclaimed Toy Story 4 was released in China, all expectations were that it would be a number one hit. No one considered that a decades old masterpiece of 2D animation, Spirited Away, would take that crown by a wide margin. The Studio Ghibli classic had never been shown in Chinese theaters but demand was increased by a release of black market copies of it. Pixar's Toy Story franchise had never been allowed into China until this new release.

Source: CartoonBrew, various sources

The Internet can spread strange conspiracy stories faster than a wildfire. The global attention was in a frenzy over a science story indicating that constant use by smart phones is causing young children to grow horns in their skulls. Besides the mischaracterization of the of the bone sput development resulting from nect posture issues, the premise of the article was debunked. These are not horns but naturally occurring bone spurs which are common and non-harmful. There is no scientific research to support the claim that smart phone usage is causing any such bone spur development. Any time bones and ligaments come together, bone spurs can form. This story was a classic case of unsupported pseudo-science.

Source: Arstechnica

 

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