May 19, 2006 20:45
Baek Ji-young has made a successful comeback after she was pitilessly ostracized by the public at the end of 2000, when a video clip that showed her having sex was put on the Internet.
The title song of her new album released early this month ("I Won't Fall in Love") has topped all music charts both off- and online. It seems clear that she has at last purged herself of the label of "sex-video queen" after six years of hard work.
"I hope people only think of me as a singer when they hear my new song," Baek told the Chosun Ilbo. "The scandal I was involved in will never be forgotten even when I'm very old, whether I succeed or fail, but it's painful to hear people talk about it whenever something happens to me." Although herself the victim in the scandal, she had to endure being cold-shouldered by the public.
"I felt sorry, victimized, desolate, and so on. So many feelings surged up within me, and of course it was difficult," she says with a sigh. "Without the support of my family and friends, I could never have shaken it off."
"If you start to hide one thing, there will be more things you have to hide. It is better to admit things and be honest," she muses. "Of course I was helpless then, but my agency and friends helped me to face it. Then I made up my mind to try to overcome it if I couldn't avoid it."
But the reality was still harsh. Nobody explicitly told her she could not appear on TV, but no broadcasters wanted her either. "SBS was the first network to let me perform after the scandal in August 2001, and the board of its website almost exploded with messages from furious viewers. A producer told me that it would be hard for me to appear on TV again."
Now Baek says she no longer cares about what others say about her on the internet. "Strangely enough, more women than men criticize me. It's like people who were beaten when they grew up tend to beat their own children."
She may still hold many grudges, but she does not show them. The scandal made many realize that Korean society is particularly hard on women and thus served as an opportunity for society to improve in that respect, and that, she says, is enough for her.
Baek concluded the interview by again thanking her parents. "My parents are very blunt, but they tried to treat me as if nothing had happened. They had to act better than any great actors or actresses in the world for me. I am so grateful for that," she says. Perhaps it is not a coincidence that the title of her new album is "Smile Again."
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