Celebrities Sucked Into Ilbe Controversy

Since koreaBANG was the first English-language media to report on Ilbe back in October of 2012, the website has grown from an oddity in the typically progressive Korean internet to a potent political force. In the latest incident, some of Korea’s most popular celebrities have rushed to deny that they are Ilbe members after they were recorded using memes common to the website. While controversy over personal attacks on Ilbe users used to be a minor concern for internet flame-wars, the latest allegations have become a country-wide political issue as Busker Busker, Crayon Pop, and actor Ha Seok-jin have all been targeted for their association with Ilbe. As usual, in order to get a complete understanding of this issue, it is important to read the comments below from both a progressive and a conservative source, as the former condemn all ‘Ilbe bugs’ and the latter accuse ‘lefty zombies’ of hypocrisy.

From Star News:

Don’t judge celebrities with the ‘stigma of Ilbe’

“I’m not an Ilbe user!”

‘Ilbe’ is casting a cloud over the entertainment world. Internet humor website Ilbe has become synonymous with right-wing political orientation. Apart from Ilbe users’ behavior, the recent Ilbe controversies caused by entertainers are worrisome.

On July 31st, actor Ha Seok-jin posted a comment on his Twitter about Seong Jae-ki representative of the group ‘Man of Korea’ who had recently recently jumped from a bridge over the Han River. The actor soon got into trouble after he wrote, “As a person who agreed with quite a few points [Seong] has made regardless of his political orientation, I find the accident very regrettable and pray that he will rest in peace. I express my condolences through my worthless SNS [Social Networking Services] account. RIP.” He didn’t directly mention Seong but it was strongly inferred. Some netizens claimed Ha Seok-jin must be an Ilbe user because Seong was an Ilbe user. He clarified he is not an Ilbe user but netizens haven’t stopped attacking him. Ha apologized and deleted his post.

Ha Seok-jin

Ha Seok-jin

Girl group Crayon Pop was engulfed in another Ilbe controversy earlier. On June 22, right after performing on MBC’s ‘Music Core’, they wrote on their Twitter account, “You guys were nomu nomu cool today. You know that, right? I want to copy your fashion. I want to thank our cute fans again. – Way and Choa.” The comment has sparked controversy because ‘nomu nomu’ is known as an expression making fun of deceased former President Roh Mu-hyun. Crayon Pop’s agency Chrome Entertainment’s representative Hwang Hyun-chang clarified, “I didn’t know there was such meaning to it. There are many shortened or compound slang words used on the internet and I thought it was just one of them. If I had known it could cause trouble, I wouldn’t have let them use it.” However, Crayon Pop has been dubbed as ‘Ilbeyon Pop’ [일베용팝].

The tweet by Crayon Pop that started the controversy, note their use of '노무노무'.

The tweet by Crayon Pop that started the controversy, note their use of ‘노무노무’.

Girl Group Secret also got flak for association with Ilbe last May. On May 14, on the SBS radio program ‘Choi Hwa-jeong’s Power Time’, Secret’s member Jeon Hyosung said, “We are a team that respects individuality. We don’t democratize ourselves.’ It was claimed that she used the word ‘democratization’ in the same way the term is used on Ilbe, meaning to oppress a minority. As soon as the controversy erupted, Jeon apologized, saying she did not know there was such a meaning.

Freedom of expression is a constitutional human right. Everyone, including celebrities, has this right. It also applies for political opinions. Some politically oriented entertainers have been called ‘politainers’. What about the Ilbe controversy? No celebrity has claimed they are Ilbe users. They didn’t even express political opinions. They were stigmatized as Ilbe users based on speculations without any direct proof. They were persecuted for the sake of persecution. What if they are Ilbe users? If you disagree with their political stance, you can logically argue with them. Witch-hunting people who deny allegations is merely taking out your misdirected anger. Our history during the past century proves how dangerous prejudgment of opinion can be. Thought policing created numerous victims. The recent Ilbe controversy relating to celebrities is just another ideological witch-hunt. Don’t stigmatize celebrities because of their association with Ilbe’.

Comments from Naver:


Regardless of what Ilbe does, those guys wielding the keyboard, wearing the armor of anonymity and trying to be a little hero are being persecuted.


Alex Ferguson left a wise saying. All evils stem from SNS. /tremble


Ilbe is cutting up Korea along gender, region and ideological lines.


Ke ke, but Jeon Hyosung’s misuse of the word was something that no average person could ever do so she got caught red-handed right there. I don’t know why the other guys are treated like Ilbe users, but Jeon Hyosung cannot deny it.


Ilbe users, don’t come over to Naver.


Ilbe was bashed hard here several months ago. What’s scary is that it seems Ilbe is getting gradually more accepted.. There are many Ilbe advocates and many who brush it off.. It’s scary that those who insult dead people and lack any conscience are getting more accepted.


If you are a human, don’t do Ilbe. If you are an Ilbe bug, don’t crawl out into society.


Crayon Pop and Jeon Hyosung are definitely Ilbe users.


The Ilbe controversy is not a matter of ideology. It is a matter of common sense.


Honestly, Jeon Hyosung should acknowledge it.

From Chosun Ilbo:

If you like Suzy, you are leftist and if you like Crayon Pop, you are rightist?

“Are you an Ilbe user?” “Idiotic conservative ****” “You support Park Geun-hye, don’t you?”

Recently, a middle school student with the last name of Kim received a barrage of malicious comments for saying he likes girl group ‘Crayon Pop’ on an internet message board. Ilbe has been attacked by many netizens for being a ‘far-right-wing conservative website’. Kim said, “I was taken aback because I couldn’t understand why I should be bashed for political reasons just for liking a girl group.”

‘McCarthyism’ is spreading among teenagers. Depending on which celebrities they like, they can be bashed and labelled as a ‘lefty commie’ or an ‘Ilbe bug’. There are even semi-official rules about how to discriminate floating around on the internet: “If someone particularly dislikes Suzy (member of girl group ‘Miss A’) but likes Crayon Pop, that person is likely to be an Ilbe user.” If someone claims both sides are wrong about the NLL issue, there is a 95% chance for that person to be an Ilbe bug.” “If he looks uncomfortable and can’t make proper eye contact when you call him Ilbe bug, he is 99.8% likely to be an Ilbe bug.”

A satirical image shows a member of Crayon Pop joining riot police in making arrests.

A satirical image shows a member of Crayon Pop joining riot police in making arrests.

Crayon Pop was criticized for their association with Ilbe after it was pointed out that they used the words that are common to Ilbe, such as ‘nomu nomu’ and ‘the limper’ making fun of former President Roh Mu-hyun and Kim Dae-jung. There was also a claim that their agency’s representative posted messages about Ilbe. He explained that he used Ilbe to gather information but suspicion continued. Suzy was targeted because she is from the Jeolla province.

As soon as you use an ‘Ilbe meme word’ once, immediately you become a target for attacks. If you use ‘democratization’ as a word that means to ignore individuality, conform to uniformity or verbally abuse the minority for having different thoughts unlike its original meaning, you are labelled as an Ilbe user. In May, girl group Secret’s Jeon Hyosung got humiliated for saying “we respect individuality so we don’t democratize ourselves” on a radio program. Recently, a translator for the book ‘Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life 2’ used an expression ‘got democratized’ to mean ‘got helplessly victimized’. The translator and his publisher had to apologize. In June, singer Kim Jin-pyo had to write a message of apology that he didn’t know the word had such meaning after saying ‘unji’, which is a meme word that means to fall down. It was originally coined to make fun of former President Roh Mu-hyun’s suicide. A large number of netizens who talk about this issue are teenagers.

The problem expands in this process: 1. Politically irrelevant celebrities are labelled as Ilbe advocates. 2. Teenagers who have observed this sort of online McCarthyism joins the arguments. 3. Without any clear definition of ‘conservative’ and ‘progressive’, they throw names such as ‘conservative idiot’ or ‘lefty commie’. 4. They verbally or even physically abuse their enemies.

A teenager asked this question on Naver Jisik iN [similar to Yahoo! Answers]. “I have a classmate who’s being bullied after he got caught using Ilbe… Why do they bully him just for using Ilbe?” In such cases, the affected parties don’t even know what Ilbe is like and what about Ilbe should be criticized. There is blind social discrimination going on. Experts say it is fueled by SNS because people of any age can easily voice their opinion.

Korean literature professor Cho Gyu-ik at Soongsil University said, “The ideological polarization is being perpetuated throughout every age group in our society. If you oversimplify complicated social phenomena and indulge in us-versus-them thinking, there is less and less diversity and flexibility in thought.”

Comments from Naver:


Speaking of lefty zombies’ hypocrisy, they made a big fuss threatening an auction website that they would delete their accounts because the website used Crayon Pop as a commercial model, hah. Doesn’t that speak volumes about them? They apply the left-right politics to everything. What happened during the mad cow disease hoax? Ahn Jae-hwan just said we need to be more prudent and they boycotted him, leading to his business failing. He eventually committed suicide. Nobody took responsibility for that. They still occupy the internet in disguise as a self-proclaimed ‘democratic’ group with the delusional slogan of ‘truth’ and ‘justice’. Is that really ‘justice’?


Even if a lefty commie director makes a movie, conservatives don’t boycott it. They just don’t like childish pettiness. Lefty commies are different. If a celebrity suggests hoisting the national flag on the Memorial Day, they hurl curses at the celebrity. They have no qualms about boycotting idols like Crayon Pop who performed with a national flag on their head on the Independence Day. Korean lefty commies’ blood is grey so you never know whose side they are on until war breaks out. It is at least clear that they have the most disgusting double standards, anti-intelligence and anti-democratic nature.


Aren’t those who resort to political factionalism all lefty commies to begin with? Especially those masters of SNS propaganda…professors, novelists and celebrity lefty zombies….


What are you talking about…. What left or right…. Suzy is pretty and Crayon Pop is fun… I hope both do well.


Whenever you go to developed countries in Europe or if you visit America, you see that they don’t impose their thoughts on others. They acknowledge that people with different opinions can live together. Of course, if others violate your rights, you may defend your rights, but I really hate it when some bothersome people try to forcefully impose their thoughts on others.


Those bastards who will have nothing to do with any political power for their entire life are talking too fucking much about politics, ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke.


How would people who don’t read Ilbe know what Ilbe is like and what Ilbe meme words are? I would know those words only if I had read Ilbe… I got into Crayon Pop just after watching their TV appearances. The more some self-righteous people blindly try to persecute Crayon Pop fans, the more I become supportive of the group.


Some people bashed Jeon Hyosung’s underwear advertisement. They might have been lefty zombie Kimchi bitches. Lefty zombies’ logic is crazy.


Ever since the mad cow hoax propaganda, lefty zombies’ IQ level and propaganda tactics have been revealed.


Nuke Dae-jung and pro-North Korean groups are hindering our country’s development and inter-Korean relations even today. They carry out protests that cause social turmoil. They channel dollars to North Korea for their nuclear weapon development… And people in that region [Jeolla-do] cast lopsided votes in every election like communists. That’s why the rest of our citizens have negative perceptions about them.. They have brought it all onto themselves… If we really want to get rid of regionalism, each individual in that province should change their mindset and they should be able to vote for the political parties not associated with their own region for at least 30%.

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