Girls' Generation's Sunny having affair? Korean netizen gets 6 months' jail for spreading rumour

The rumour alleged that Girls' Generation singer Sunny (far right) and actor Lee Seo-jin were having a secret affair.
The rumour alleged that Girls' Generation singer Sunny (far right) and actor Lee Seo-jin were having a secret affair. PHOTO: SBS PLUS

Korean celebrities have chalked up another victory against online abusers.

Days after news came of the Bundang Police Station referring two netizens to the prosecution for defaming A-list actress Song Hye-kyo, a court has sentenced a person to six months in jail.

The sentence is suspended for two years, with the defendant going to prison if conditions are violated.

The defendant alleged in 2018 that Girls' Generation singer Sunny and actor Lee Seo-jin were having a secret affair.

The judge noted that the defendant posted a "malicious rumour" on a platform that had many users. Such an irresponsible act, with its highly harmful consequences for the victim, must be dealt with severely, the judge admonished.

The defendant must also do 80 hours of community service, a verdict that has drawn support from many folk who note that the Korean entertainment industry is saddled with a toxic fan culture.

Some said a heavy fine should also have been levied by the judge, to further deter trouble-makers.

The sentencing comes in the wake of actress-singer Sulli's death on Oct 14, with the tragedy linked to her harassment by netizens. Foul play has been ruled out but drug and toxicology test results are still pending.

 
 
 

Sulli took a break from girl group f(x) in 2014 after she was hit by rumours and negative talk.

Another celebrity, Jonghyun of boy band Shinee, committed suicide in 2017 over depression. Goo Ha-ra, once part of girl group Kara, was found unconscious at her home earlier this year.

While there have been calls to clamp down on online trolls, management agencies and lawyers said their attempts were stymied by netizens who use untraceable accounts.

Sulli's death has now prompted MPs to mull over new rules that could mandate netizens to use their real names.

Celebrities themselves have also come out strongly to condemn those who monitor, and criticise, what they do.

f(x) member Victoria lashed out on Weibo, telling naysayers not to waste time on speculation. Urging them to do something more meaningful, she told them off for trying to stand out online with ridiculous and damaging lies.

Singer Park Ji-min blasted those who sent her lewd and suggestive messages after she posted photographs, warning them that she would report the culprits to the police.

But some fans have also asked their idols to play smart, and not court trouble.

"Social media is a double-edged sword, get used to it or don't use it at all, you have that choice," one person wrote.