Lee Jong Suk Receives Criticism for Allegedly Rejecting a Fan Gift

Sunday, March 30, 2014

As you might have heard, Lee Jong Suk is accused harshly for ignoring a fan and refusing to accept her gift in an airport. The story is accompanied by series of photos and a video which are currently analyzed by a team of "CSI netizens" who are obviously the experts in the field (ha).

The reason why I wanted to talk about this controversy is simply because I see it as a huge misunderstanding. While I do like the dramas that Lee Jong Suk has starred in I'm not really his fan, so I'd like to point out that I don't have a personal bias for him. But I am bothered how much criticism he's receiving for something that I simply see as a misinterpretation of body language. 

The photos and the video show LJS walking in the airport and a fan girl suddenly approaching him and taking his arm. LJS doesn't look in her direction and pulls his arm away when she tries to hand over the gift. Right after that, his manager breaks off the contact entirely by pushing through between LJS and the fan. LJS and his manager walk on and the fan stays behind.

To me it seems that LJS didn't intentionally ignore the fan at all. First of all, he's wearing sunglasses which means that his vision is probably a bit more limited than usual. He never really looks at the fan, not necessarily because he's annoyed but more likely because he simply doesn't notice her. So when the fan appears beside him, he looks startled that someone's taking him by the hand and pulls his arm back in a natural reflex. Right at that moment when he looks in her way to see what's going on, his manager cuts between them, blocking LJS's view. It's not clear whether he ever realized there was a fan trying to give him a gift. So it's quite possible that when he continues walking like nothing happened, he actually did think nothing happened.  

Of course, this is my reading of LJS body language in the video and I can't really prove anything (but nor can anyone else). However, I want to give him a benefit of doubt because netizens (as always) are blowing the whole thing out of proportion, posting comments about losing all respect for him and calling him an asshole. It's like T-ara scandal all over again with fans turning into anti-fans and posting short video clips without any context and claiming them to be "evidence" of bullying. Sigh.

What I want to tell those netizens is this: it's really easy to misinterpret something when you are inclined to look for something negative. Try to put yourself into LJS's shoes for a bit and look at the story from his perspective. How would you react when you're walking in an airport and somebody suddenly grabs your hand? Would you want a stranger to touch you? I sure wouldn't. And it's not because I'm a rude person, it's just because I don't like people who I don't know touching me - I want to maintain my personal space. Yeah okay, LJS is a celebrity so he should probably be prepared to deal with fans trying to get close to him and handing him gifts. But if he's in a tired state and is caught by surprise like that, it's totally understandable that his first instinct is to avoid direct contact. Just think about it.

Anyways, since the controversy got so big in just a few days, LJS quickly posted an apology on his official fan site. It's interesting to note that his version of the story is similar to my initial observation of the video: 
"I didn’t see the fan [that tried to give me a gift], and when someone pulled on my arm, I thought that of course it was my manager, and pulled my arm away. I had no idea it was a fan. Because there were a lot of reporters, I was flustered, and couldn’t control my expression. I think it was a fan that I’ve never seen before, and I’m really really sorry. It was my fault. I’ll do better from now on." (Soompi)

So these are my two cents on the issue. Whether you believe his apology is up to you because, after all, everyone's entitled to their opinion. 

I do feel bad for the fan, though. She was probably really bummed that her meeting with her idol ended up in such a way. I do hope she has more common sense than netizens and doesn't jump on the anti-LJS boat right away. Maybe she'll even get another chance to give him the present and then perhaps make herself seen first.

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  1. Events like this (and their immediate netizen interpretations) make me ohh so mad at life. When I saw the headline I at first refused to click on it, but I did.. knowing it would probably make my stomach churn. And it did. The best we can hope for is that events like this just remain isolated. Another similar situation and it'd be a full blown witch hunt. (Ugh) I'm a crazy fan of the boy, but I love him a lot for his roles. No celeb deserves this kind of crap.

    1. Yeah, I hate it too. Netizens always blow things out of proportion and I simply feel bad for the stars who have to deal with such criticism. I wish netizens/fans/antifans didn't have that much control over their idols because it's honestly quite silly to force celebrities to make apologies for every little thing.

  2. You know I know it's way this news old but I found your site and got curious about this, I'm not his fan eighter but I do like his acting so what I believe he did see her and that is why at that moment turned his hay the other way, so that he didn't see her trying to handle him her gift, obviously the fan got hasty and grabbed him so she could deliver the bad but instead he pulled his arm and the manager didn't help either since he was the one who pushed her away, it is true that he didn't handle the situation but at least he apologised, he had to do it because it was filmed and then got viral, bad reputation for him, it is very understandable because this happens all the time with idols, people forget that they are just people too and that some are good handling people and some don't. Fans can be very scary when in frenzy so this is why this is a sort of consequence.

    1. There was definitely a misunderstanding about the whole deal back then and netizens as always jumped to conclusions without even giving the guy the benefit of the doubt.


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