August 23, 2018 11:38
The boy band Bangtan Boys or BTS recently earned a nickname, "Gucci Boys," for their conspicuous displays of wealth that dazzle fans.
Its member V is often spotted draped in Gucci both at official functions and "in private," i.e. on Instagram. But the fans seems as mesmerized as the star himself by his blingy selfies.
The band's home improvements are also making waves. YouTube videos of how the boy band moved from a small flat to an W8 billion luxury apartment have drawn 300,000 to 400,000 views (US$1=W1,120).
"They deserve to live like that," fans gush in the comments. "Global artists like that need to rest in a plush home."
The trend of young celebrities unabashedly flaunting their wealth is also evident on TV. Gone, it seems, are the days when such displays were frowned on as crass.
Big Bang member Seung-ri (28) was the subject of an SBS show about his alleged private life that racked up 20.9-percent ratings. He likes to be seen jetsetting around the world, tending to his businesses, speaking four languages and throwing lavish parties in luxury resorts.
Rapper Dok2 (28) has become well known for collecting luxury cars. Last month, a YouTube video showed him flaunting his latest Lamborghini sports car. In the video, the rapper says he likes buying things "in a set" and tells viewers he also bought several Rolls-Royces and two Mercedes.
What these celebrities have in common is that theirs are rags-to-riches stories, which apparently have a soothing effect in a depressed economy.
Seung-ri did not come into the spotlight until other members of Big Bang began serving their mandatory military service. "I had a tough time outshining other members of the group, so I studied foreign languages," he said.
Dok2 has said he used to live in a container box because his parents went bankrupt when he was a kid.
But there is a sense of loss at the bottom of the trend, as fame and YouTube popularity seem to be the only way for people in their 20s and 30s to get ahead in life.
Kwak Keum-joo at Seoul National University said, "People are trying to gain a vicarious sense of achievement through these young celebrities in an age where it has become increasingly difficult for young people to get ahead in life through hard work. It's pure escapism."
Others are worried by the glorification of material wealth. Culture critic Jung Duk-hyun said, "People may feel a sense of loss as they look up to successful young celebrities."
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