(Comedian Sam Hammington, a fixed cast member of the MBC show 'Real Men')
"Hip hop rappers reporting for duty!"
Wait, if you're reporting for duty, why are you dressed in your almost-there skinny jeans and holding a microphone on stage? And why are you putting out albums? Hold up, let's rewind this back a little.
Should we start off with what happened barely a week ago when news of The Quiett performing on the side while being in public service hit the fan? Or should we fast forward a little and talk about what happened last night when Crucial Star got busted for doing public service also?
I guess I'll rewind way back into the history of the Korean army and their service policies before I unravel each story one by one.
As many of you might know, in South Korea, it's mandatory for all men to serve in the military. Usually, men start their service as soon as they graduate from high school at the age of 19. So how come you see Korean pop stars enlisting at the age of 28, a nearly 10 year gap? There are various ways to delay your enlistment through reasons like school or work, but eventually you'll still receive a letter with your enlistment date stamped right on it. There have also been cases where certain celebrities like MC Mong and actor Song Seung Hun who have tried evading enlistment, only to end up either exiled from the industry or being forced to enlist after creating much havoc with the press. And then we have our rare – very rare – cases of celebrities having to re-enlist due to exceeding the amount of public events performed while serving in the military, as demonstrated by Mr. Gangnam Style himself, Psy.
And what happened a few days ago with The Quiett was that he performed at shows and put out albums and songs that were available for purchase on online music sites. So what's the big deal? I mean, he is an artist, right?
Wrong. According to Korean military laws, you're not supposed to perform any commercial activity unless it's at military/government events. Although the government does pay you, it's very little and considering that these celebrities have made much more through commercial activity or performing at events, they obviously want to take the route they've been cruising along for so long.
"But The Quiett is doing public service, no? Then shouldn't he be exempt?"
Just because you're a public figure doesn't mean you're exempt from this rule. If anything, it's much more enforced because you are a public figure. Public service is an easy way out for celebrities because they're public figures. You're free to live at home and do office work in the military if you're a public soldier while if you're an active soldier, you remain in the military base.
Whether you're a hip hop rapper, a KPOP singer, or an actor, going down the public service route is looked down upon because the majority of Korean men are forced down the active duty route and have to suffer while celebrities live in the comfort of their own home and work in the office for a few hours.
So how did Crucial Star get tied into this?
Apparently, two days ago according to Korean time (15th), someone on DC Hip Hop Gallery posted, "Isn't Crucial Star in public service also?" No one really cared for it until people who crossed the post began to think about it and attacked Crucial Star on Twitter. I mean, he's 24 years old when most men would have either served or is serving in the military but considering he made his debut early under the duo Libra Twins, quickly to be picked up by Soul Company, it made every sense for people to question if he was serving, had served, or is planning to serve.
And then this happened.
"First off, I want to apologize to the many fans who have watched me for a long while with much interest, which is why I'm writing up this post. With the news of my much-admired musician and senior The Quiett hyung, my heart continued to feel heavy and the reason is because I also am currently doing public service. With not much time left until I'm discharged from the military, I thought about hiding it till then but not wanting to bring bigger disappointment to my fans, I have made up my mind to apologize officially. Although in result I did perform commercial activity, I didn't want to stop music. I was also scared that I'd be forgotten. Everything was a result of my greed and I realize now that these methods were wrong. I'm taking responsibility as a person who grows from the love of their fans and I truly apologize for this. While reflecting on my actions, I will efficiently finish up the rest of my service."
And then this came up, an official statement from Crucial Star's label, Grandline Entertainment:
"We as Grandline Entertainment realize we take great responsibility for the position Crucial Star is currently in right now. We deeply apologize to the many who listen to Crucial Star and Grandline's music.
As a company, we hold responsibility for needing to direct their artists better and to halt any form of music activities. Because it can hurt the artist, we hope that in this situation you hold back your slanders towards Crucial Star and take it out on us as we, Grandline Entertainment, is at wrong in this situation.
It makes us think back to what music means for these musicians in the indie/hip hop scene without anything to live by as they dive straight in. And during his service, Crucial Star has efficiently done his deed while serving and has maintained a good relationship with his coworkers at the office he is stationed at. We find that it's impossible to have done both – serving in the military whilst working on his music – without efficiency and his passion for music. In result, we're disappointed at ourselves that the damage was done to an artist based off of our wrong decision.
From now on, we decided to stop all music services of Crucial Star's that was released under Grandline Entertainment and to cancel any upcoming schedules. We as Grandline Entertainment will accept all criticisms in regard to this issue and we apologize once again for what has happened."
But the post by Grandline Entertainment was quickly taken down when the slanders got out of control, saying how passion for music is a mere excuse for trying to make profit when he should be focusing on his service. The label deleted all of their recent tweets regarding to the issue and Crucial Star deactivated his Twitter.
So, what now?
Well, the Crucial Star search on Twitter is a mess right now, fangirls crying for oppa to come back, fangirls being patient and waiting for oppa, fangirls crying in anger about oppa betraying them, and last but not least, the angry men who have either served or already served in active duty that are pissed about another celebrity soldier going through public service and getting caught for it.
There's no guarantee how much damage this has done to his career so far and can only determined from the response of the public when he puts out an album after his service is done and his reflection period is over. As for Grandline Entertainment, they'll probably have to slave Geeks some more to make up for losing one of the two biggest players on their team.
Meanwhile, for The Quiett, he's penalized to serve an extra 5 days in his service but that doesn't amount to the disappointment in him. Although Crucial Star is quite popular himself, The Quiett has a larger fan base for a) being in the industry much longer b) building his name for being one of the most talented producers of the Korean hip hop industry and c) working with mainstream artists, adding up to all the more disappointment in him.
In a sense, I understand why underground artists are more desperate in wanting to perform, not just for money sakes, but the fact that they're below a rookie mainstream artist for simply working underground and that 22 months is a long time for an artist to be away and a short time for an artist to be forgotten. However, there's no valid reason for them to have gone down the public service route.
All in all, this is just an informative post of the two top hip hop rappers in the scene right now and could foreshadow a train of other artists, whether they're more popular or lesser known than these two, to follow their footsteps. Let's just hope no one goes Gangnam Style into the military twice!