The Fangirl Verdict

Completely biased reviews and fangirling

The Nature of Fangirl Love

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PSH

It’s hard to ignore the latest news that has rocked the k-ent world: Park Shi Hoo accused of raping a 22-year-old trainee. As the scandal continues to brew, and as more and more facts and “facts” get reported by the media, the discussions and comments among netizens has likewise exploded.

I’m not writing this post to speculate about the truth of the case.

Rather, the varied responses across the different sites and comments sections that I’ve visited have given me food for thought.

There’s one scandal, but there is such a wide variety of responses.

On one end of the spectrum, there are fans who wholeheartedly believe that Park Shi Hoo is innocent and get upset when others assume or insinuate his guilt. On the other end of that spectrum, there are netizens who are calling him scum and mocking the fangirls for being blind.

The interesting thing is, the people on this second end of the spectrum aren’t all antis, and some have been actual fans. So where does the difference in response lie?

Having gone through a phase of my life where I was a complete Park Shi Hoo fangirl – I was hopelessly head-over-heels infatuated with him – I think I understand where each camp is coming from.

WHERE I AM NOW

I’m not an infatuated Park Shi Hoo fangirl now, having taken up a new, long-term residence in Camp Gong Yoo, but I still have been appreciating Park Shi Hoo’s acting and his roles in various dramas, eg, The Princess’ Man, in which I thought he was awesome.

While I’ve been saying, “Oh I love Park Shi Hoo,” those words don’t mean what they used to.

I’m basically no longer in love with him, and that statement could just as easily read “Oh I love Joo Won” or “Oh I love Lee Jun Ki.” It’s a casual, appreciative kind of love, and not total fangirl love, and that’s made the world of difference, as far as my response to this case is concerned.

From where I’m standing now, it’s much easier to look at things more objectively and weigh the information that’s being released through the media, and consider how the odds are stacked and so forth.

My interest in the case is more distant and less involved than it would have been, had I still been a fangirl in love with him.

A TRUE STORY

I do still remember a time, though, when I would have been completely heartbroken and deeply disturbed by any hint of tarnish to his reputation.

In the thick of my Park Shi Hoo love, I’d trawled the net – extensively, I might add – for photos and information pertaining to him. I was completely enamored by his clean-cut image, and his no-drinking, no-smoking stance. In my mind, I thought of him as the perfect, perfect boyfriend.

And then one day, while perusing a video montage of him on YouTube, I came across several photos of him smoking.

On hindsight, it wasn’t a big deal at all, but at the time, my mind swirled in disbelief.

On one level, I wanted him to be the clean-cut, healthy-living kind of guy who didn’t smoke, but as I delved deeper into my completely discombobulated state of mind, I realized that beyond that, I really, really didn’t want him to be a liar.

I remember doing mental gymnastics for a good number of hours, trying to find a way to give him the benefit of the doubt, because I just couldn’t bring myself to believe that it was possible his no smoking stance was something that had been fabricated for his image.

I still don’t know for sure what the truth around that is, but I remember thinking something like, “Maybe he’s not a smoker, but smokes casually for photo shoots & such.”

Whatever it was, I decided to still believe in him and support him. That is, until Jang Hyuk showed up on my screen and stole my heart – but that’s another story for another day.

My point is, I’ve been there before, and I think I kind of know how the Park Shi Hoo fangirls feel right now.

THE CRUX OF THE MATTER

I believe how each of us responds to the current scandal depends on how invested we are emotionally as fans.

Serious – and I mean, serious – fans consider the star – any star, but in this particular case, it’s Park Shi Hoo – as their husband, boyfriend, brother, son or something similar. In their hearts, he’s family.

And when someone who’s related to you in that way is suddenly accused of something as serious as rape, what does one do, as a family member, or as a parent, or sister, or brother, or girlfriend, or wife?

You go through shock, confusion and denial. You want to believe in the one you love. You want to stand by your loved one. You desperately hope that he is innocent. You defend him when others question his innocence. You get consumed by anger, grief and every emotion in between. You can’t eat, sleep or otherwise function as you usually do. You get edgy and sensitive.

And most importantly, you can’t bring yourself to abandon your loved one, even when the evidence presented starts to look more and more damning.

That’s just the nature of love.

WHAT ABOUT THE REST OF US?

As with all scandals, we all have an opinion.

What I ask is that we all make a greater effort towards being sensitive to those who are more emotionally invested than we.

Certainly, if the husband of a friend were accused of rape, none of us would think to tell our friend that her husband is scum and deserves to face the long arm of the law.

No. Instead, we’d be focusing on her, and how she’s holding up in the midst of the case proceedings. Few of us would be insensitive enough to expound at length in front of her why we think he’s guilty. Nor would we tell our friend that she’s blind &/or dumb to still stand by her man.

And so it should be, in terms of how we interact and communicate with Park Shi Hoo’s serious fans.

Let’s be sensitive to their emotional turmoil. Let’s not label them blind or dumb just because they can’t or don’t wish to abandon their love for Park Shi Hoo.

Yes, if he’s guilty, he needs to be dealt with justly.

But in the meantime, let’s not bash one another just because some of us are more emotionally invested than others.

Let’s do what real friends do for one another.

Author: kfangurl

Proud to be a k-fangirl since 2007. Main diet of kdramas with movies and kpop on the side.

26 thoughts on “The Nature of Fangirl Love

  1. I agree on the emotional investment fangirls place on their admired celebrities, which is why I disagree with your final statement. These girls do need to know what they are doing is wrong. Simply because it’s wrong to belittle family/lover/brother etc relationships by treating strangers on the same level and endangering your own emotional health in the process. We support and love a family member, not because they are family, that is just a word, but because they have given us love. Real love that we respect. A celebrity does not give that. A celebrity might give appreciation, but at the end of the day, it’s a job. We’re their clients.

    We all fantasize, but that should have clear boundaries with reality. We don’t know these people (celebrities). We have never met them, talked to them or even know what they are outside of their work. Even variety, interviews and such are just based on the public persona of someone. Making the mistake of thinking we know them is what makes this so disturbing.

    If a person can’t tell between reality and the fiction of their own fantasies, they’re not adults. If they are not adults, it’s up to us to make sure they face the world with more realism. I don’t think it’s healthy for young girls to think they know a man just by what they see on a screen or at a fan meeting. Because if they think they do, they might one day end up treating potential boyfriends the same way. When children get something that could cost them later on wrong, we don’t take the “friends for one another” approach. Friends make sure you have a healthy mentality and face the world and people as you should. Buddies are the ones who just go along with your mindset, but buddies can never help you mature.

    To come back to this case now, Media is a mess in Korea, like everywhere, netizens are all saying whatever drops in their head and chances are, we’ll never know what happened. I think it’s as unhealthy to condemn Park as scum as it is to turn him into a saint or naive child. If he’s innocent, we’re hurting him with the former. If he’s not, we’re hurting an already hurt young woman. And that is where haters AND fangirls go wrong. They assume they know what happened and what everyone involved feels and that turns them into a mob. The healthy approach is to wait, see, THINK and form an opinion. Not judge based on who you have sex with in your dreams or who you are mad with jealousy over.

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    • Thanks for the perspective, Orion.. I agree that extreme fandom can get unhealthy and can warp the perception of young girls, no arguments there..

      While I agree that real friends help one another grow in maturity, I do feel that tough love is not always fruitful, and its effectiveness varies from individual to individual. The main point that I was trying to make is simply that we exercise more kindness and sensitivity in general while interacting with other fans, as some are finding this whole incident difficult to process. I’ve been saddened by some of the unpleasantness that I’ve come across on various threads with regards to the case, and I couldn’t help thinking that a little more kindness & sensitivity could have gone a long way.

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      • Oh, I absolutely agree with that. It just has to be well-placed kindness and understanding. It must be devastating to hear someone you admire, even if only as an artist, might have done something horrible. That goes without saying. It’s still important (even more important if it affects them so much) to give the fan perspective about being a healthy fan, but yes, the approach would not be as tough. As you say, not everyone responds to that.

        What I meant is that we need to face the topic with a mature and strong, determined mind, not the fans themselves. It is a dangerous place to be (overly obsessed over strangers), so we definitely need to guide young people, as a society, but it takes cooperation and work from many. Unfortunately, these industries feed on that obsession and rely on getting teens hooked on things and people.

        Still, giving up isn’t an option so I will personally keep giving tough love where I can, even if a bit tweaked for more sensitive hearts.

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        • Aw, I particularly love that last bit about tweaking tough love for more sensitive hearts. Eloquently put, and I completely agree that some hearts are more sensitive than others and therefore need a little more care and wisdom in terms of our approach and response ๐Ÿ™‚

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          • Love comes mutual. This is worshiping. That is why you can’t communicate with them. They ignore or reject anything dis-cleansing their imagination. It is a condition of mental impairment, especially when you see some of the “fangirls” are actually “fanwomen”, who function and live pretty normal other than their worship towards this particular idol.

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            • Hi Sense & Sensibility, thanks for stopping by ๐Ÿ™‚

              I agree with you that there are fans who worship their idol to an unhealthy degree, though I don’t think all serious fans fall into that category. I personally believe that if a serious fan is not accepting certain information or points of view, that it’s likely their struggle to process the entire situation acting out. The more emotionally invested one is, the more time one probably needs to process something as huge as this.

              It’s my personal belief that even if a fan were mentally impaired from an unhealthy idol worship, that it doesn’t warrant disrespect from other netizens. We don’t have to agree on everything, but it certainly would be nice if we could treat one another with kindness and respect. I’m not saying that all fans are suffering from mental impairment, but if we were to encounter a mentally impaired person in real life, I’d certainly hope that we would still treat that person with kindness, or at the very least, refrain from being unkind.

              That’s what I find troubling, that so many netizens feel it a right to say very unkind things to other netizens.

              On a slight tangent, in response to your first statement, I’d like to offer the perspective that love is not always mutual, and isn’t defined by mutuality. Any parent of a rebellious teen – or an owner of an aloof and disinterested cat, perhaps! – would know what I mean. Or a one-sided love, which we should be familiar with, from dramaland and probably our own lives too. You can love someone, without that person loving you back. Just a little food for thought, perhaps? ๐Ÿ™‚

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  2. Well done. I’m not going to comment more, ’cause my official stance after my post is SILENCE. But your post was GREAT!

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  3. I was looking forward to watch “Cheongdamdong Alice” at some point, because i like Moon Geun-young, but with this happening that drama feels a bit tainted :/.

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    • With all the reports swirling around, I would imagine that watching a PSH drama may feel weird to some.. Perhaps shelving Cheongdamdong Alice for another time, when the case is over and the dust has settled, would make for a more pleasurable viewing experience? ๐Ÿ™‚

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  4. Whether you are a fan girl or not, everyone is innocent until proven otherwise. I must admit I really didn’t have much knowledge of Park Shi Hoo until I watched Prosector Princess and I definitely haven’t reached fan girl status yet but I think he’s a great actor. Saying that, I actually don’t think my opinion that he’s a great actor has any influence over my view on this scandal. I’m just a firm believer that everyone should be given a fair hearing, so whether you’re a fan or not shouldn’t really come into play, although I’m aware it will. Park Shi Hoo is a man first and a famous actor later, as a man he should be given the right to prove his innocence if he is indeed innocent. If not, then judgement should and will follow.

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    • Yes, I absolutely agree that he should be treated as innocent until proven otherwise.. And if guilty, he should face the consequences of his actions. That doesn’t stop the wide-spread speculation, though, as the media releases more reports over time.

      As everyone’s individual buttons get pushed by various bits of information – some siding the plaintiff, some blaming the plaintiff, some siding PSH, some blaming PSH, and more permutations in between – tensions rise and emotions run high on discussion threads, often resulting in unhappiness and hurt feelings. While we can’t stop everyone from continuing to speculate, I do sincerely hope that everyone would exercise more kindness and sensitivity, particularly to serious PSH fans who would be having a hard time processing such devastating news of their idol being accused of something so serious.

      I believe the fangirls completely agree with your innocent-until-proven-guilty stance, and considering their deeper emotional investment, it must be distressing to encounter other netizens who are already slamming PSH or insinuating that he is guilty as charged.

      My post is simply to encourage us all to be more aware of the emotional turmoil that many fangirls must be feeling, and therefore be more sensitive and kind ๐Ÿ™‚

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  5. I really like this post! I’ve also been thinking about this issue, but I think you did a great job addressing it! Mainly, it requires so much sensitivity because I feel like there’s so much unknown. On a side note, I’ve also struggled with people who dismiss the girl who made this accusations and accuse her of completely making it up and want her to be held responsible if the charges get dropped. Sorry, I just think about Dream High and what happened with Eunjong’s character. While I’m a fan of Park Shi Hoo (along the same lines as you, so more mild) and I would like this to be proven inaccurate, I just can’t handle those comments because I feel like it perpetuates a culture of no matter what actually happened silence is better.

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    • Thanks, Eye Candy.. It’s true that there’s so much that is ugly and disturbing about this whole thing, from the reports themselves, to the name-calling and virtual cat-fights among netizens. I just saw some really nasty comments today, on a PSH case-related thread, where people were all-out insulting one another. I know that this case is going to turn up something ugly one way or the other, and I just feel that we could really do without the name-calling among ourselves. Why make an ugly situation even uglier?

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      • So very true! I completely agree. But I think you really did a good job taping into the feelings of people who were huge fans of PSH, and on the flip side are people who feel very passionate about victims getting the support they deserve. I understand why the conflict happens, but I just wish it wouldn’t get to intensely personal and mean!

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        • Thanks Eye Candy.. I think the fact that I used to be a total PSH fangirl helped me understand the current anguish of the current fans.. As I read the various news reports, I couldn’t help but wonder how I would have felt, if I were still a PSH fangirl.

          You’re right, it’s getting intensely personal & very, very mean. I was really shocked by some of the comments that I’ve read, which I won’t repeat here. Suffice to say that the comments were nasty and contained no compassion for anyone whatsoever, and even went so far as to wish very, very bad things on people who didn’t agree with the commenter’s point of view.

          As the case is turning up the ugly side of the k-ent industry, I feel it is also turning up the ugly side of the blogosphere :/

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  6. Excellent post!! I think we should respect to both parties(accusing and victim) and don’t make hasty jugdment. I’ve been trying to avoid the netizens opinions because in my opinion is not right to bash someone without having the facts. We can only wait until the law makes its judgment but no matter what party is deemed innocent, they will be tainted by this incident.

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    • Thanks, Ayesha.. Indeed, all this emotional, impulsive, reckless bashing is very sad. It’s bad enough that people are bashing the plaintiff and PSH.. It’s ugliest when people start bashing one another for their beliefs and points of view. I have to agree with you that regardless of the outcome of the case, everyone involved would have been tainted by it, which is sad, because there’s a victim in there somewhere who doesn’t deserve to have their reputation tainted for life.

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  7. Incidents like this, even much more minor ones, always bring out the nasty underbelly of k-ent fandoms. It’s always been more apparent with the k-pop side where things can turn toecurlingly ugly with the speed of light. Just think of what happened to Tablo….

    As for the sad case itself… Not my place to judge one way or the other. I’ll leave that to those whose job it actually is. I don’t trust the Korean media reporting much, so I doubt that other people than the parties involved know the full facts at this point.

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    • I hadn’t been following k-ent news much when the Tablo thing blew up, and I only just went to read about it. It’s crazy. Even when presented with evidence that he was not lying about his education, people continued to believe what they wanted to believe. That just blows my mind. Ugly side of fandom indeed.

      Sadly, I think this case might follow suit, ie, regardless of the outcome of the case, some people are going to keep on believing what they want to believe. And just as sadly, the different camps are likely to continue to throw hateful and spiteful remarks at one another. I don’t understand why anonymity causes people to show their ugly sides. Hm :/

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  8. thank you for this well-meaning post.
    i’m an ardent PSH fan and have been encouraging my fellow PSH fans just to keep praying for him.
    cheers,kfangurl.i love your post.

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  9. Totally loved your post kfangurl. I understand sometimes we need to draw lines in fangirling. We love our bias but that doesn’t mean we are there with them realtime. Whatever they have to offer is what we get and what we can or want to believe is where a good conscience should help us.
    When I found out that Joo Won does smoke even though he can’t take a sip of alcohol, I was upset (it is a confirmed fact). But after that I learned to accept that it is his choice maybe to deal with the strain of his job or sometimes a quick smoke in cold weather; be whatever reason but it is his sincerity to his craft that attracted me to him and then my necessity to find out more about him.
    When I rewatched The Princess Man recently, PSH’s innocent smile and his affectionate love made me swoon for him all over. Maybe it sounds ridiculous but I hope this phase passes by and he gets better projects. But if he did commit a crime it needs to be dealt with seriously.

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    • Aw thanks, I’m glad the post resonated with you – we fangirls need to support one another, don’t we? โค

      I know what you mean about the smoking.. I recently fell head over heels for Kim Woo Bin, and I do wish he wouldn't smoke. At the same time, I realize that smoking is a very common thing in Korean culture, so it's not as big a deal to them as it might be to us. And like you said, it doesn't mean they are any less talented or dedicated to their craft.

      I'm glad you've managed to rewatch TPM without the scandal tainting your enjoyment. I don't think I'm there yet myself, but I do expect to rewatch it sometime. I personally think the entire scandal was pretty awful all around, and while I found PSH's poor decision-making rather disturbing, I'm a firm believer in 2nd chances and that people can and do grow and mature for the better. Tomorrow is a new and better day, I say ^^

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