Idols Caught Smoking: Do We Really Need To Shame Them? [OP:ED]

In the world of K-Pop, idols are expected to be angelic wholesome children of the Lord incapable of any if all mistakes. NCT’s Jungwoo caught smoking stirs this hot topic again. 

Other than performing and singing on stage with a blunder in the choreography here or there, idols should be mistake free – wrapped up, boxed into their dorms and not expected to come out until their next public performance appearance. Yet, this isn’t a perfect world (not for us, more the disturbing desires of CEO’s perfect world lol) and idols have liberties and the freedom to do things that can often lead to dire consequences – they are human, too. Yet, are they allowed to behave this way? After all, they are idols, right?

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Recently, NCT’s Jungwoo was caught smoking in an alley way and the pictures circulated across the web like wild fire despite fans doing their best to keep it under wraps. Now, with the fortunate change of a K-Pop area, fans are more accepting of the idea but the tides haven’t turned completely. There is an awfully big battle among fans wondering if what Jungwoo did is a big deal or not – with most Korean fans awaiting repercussions for Jungwoo’s ill-habit and mistake. 

Similar to NCT Lucas who was caught on live stream numerous times with cigarette packs in his pocket, in the past, idols such as EXO’s Kai, D.O, Sehun, SHINee’s Taemin and Onew, f(x) Amber (such a pattern with SM, huh?), Big Bang’s GD and T.O.P, PSY, 2NE1’s CL, B.A.P’s Daehyun, Highlight’s Gikwang, JYJ Yoochun, and so on, were also caught smoking while their agencies did little to address or make statements about the issue. It is already quite the growing list, with many more we surely do not know.

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Still, the problem seems to lie among fans as companies tend to give artists a slap on the wrist as usually the idols are over the legal age in Korea when they were “caught” (assuming the company didn’t know already). What can be done? It is legal and the idols are allowed to make these decisions unless demanded otherwise by agencies. Heck, the blame-game shame can even be pointed to the paparazzi invading privacy and spreading these photos. But this isn’t an argument to point out who is right or wrong but to shine light upon the underlying issue being ignored in this situation (read below to find out) and the even worse points being made to defend an artist.

What is bothersome to see among the arguments and “professional” articles are points about how hot idols look or how it makes their image look sexier in order to justify the behavior and win over fans’ opinions. An idol’s image and musical history should have nothing to do with it. It just proves that people are truly easily influenced by idols actions they deem “hot.” Normally, an old man smoking and spitting on the street isn’t a wonderous sight but suddenly we are melting like ice-cream over an idol for it? Pff. 

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The argument being tossed around quite a lot is that Jungwoo is an adult. He has a right to his own choices. So on and so forth. However, one most consider a lot of business factors that come into play with artists. Unlike artists in Korea, in the West artists not only have creative freedom musically, visually and (of course) with their bodies and choices, but also with their independent contracts between companies. Jungwoo is under the influence of a major Korean company, SM Entertainment.

Despite being a independent human being, he is associated with an act that represent a set of morals set on the group alongside the companies values. Alongside this, his voice (among his many other talents such as his beautiful baby face~) are an asset the company are investing in and expecting to bring forth an income. Would you be happy if you entered your child into a hair styling pageant for $10 Million and they suddenly chopped off half the bangs to look like SpongeBob’s two-front teeth? No, no you would not. (I sound like a monstrous dance mom, huh?)

The point is, considering the actions damaging Jungwoo’s morals of being a proper inspiration to fans and doing his part for the company funding him, getting caught smoking was not a great thing. Obviously, Jungwoo himself and his fans knew it was bad to begin with otherwise why else would they both be trying to hide it? Lastly, it is just a bad habit and pretty detrimental to his health and singing career. 

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Although its unrealistic to assume that fans who saw Jungwoo smoking will begin the habit too, it definitely shouldn’t be something up for discuss anyway. In attempts to save his idol image towards children, many people even expressed how smoking in Korea is a commonality and can be seen everywhere, everyday, on every common street corner. TRUE (take it from someone living here where people smoke in elevators even). Yet, these people are not idols. They aren’t singers. Those smokers, at most, have only children looking up to them and the habit makes them a bad example too because, assumedly, no parent would hand their kid a pack of cigarettes. Parents would often preach not to do it. So, why make such a pointless example to justify a bad action? 

Lastly, Fans shouldn’t be demanding other fans to abandon artists or awaiting corporal punishment and seeing them suffer while demanding an apology for artists doing something entirely legal and optional. This behavior and action is a twisted use of fan power. The artist may have offended you with something that goes completely against what you believe in so you yourself alone can make a progressive choice in your own life to not support them if you chose to. There are plenty of other artists who do not smoke. So leave it be.

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Entirely, I believe fans should be looking more at Jungwoo’s health and considering how he is feeling. Often in Korea people smoke due to stress. His company should take this as an opportunity to check on his health conditions and be providing him the proper rest, supplements, or care that can help him relax under the pressure instead of scolding him. Granted, the memes and gifs of crazy people shaking while smoking with the caption “after performing too much aegyo” over their head is definitely chuckle-worthy, we cannot take Jungwoo’s health for granted! 

As a fan of NCT (I’m in front of my ‘Neo Zone Punch Final Round’ album writing this) I just hope Jungwoo can overcome the stress, remain healthy, hopefully drop the habit in consideration of his career, and continue making music. What are your thoughts on the situation and this OP:ED? Leave a wordy comment down below! Engage the situation in a healthy way!

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