Rain, his military service controversy, and the misguided netizen witch hunt

RainMilitary

The outrage at Rain — that stems from accusations of negligence in regards to his military duties — has subsided a bit, but it doesn’t change the fact that this could follow him for a while, as military service is not something that affects just the insulated world of K-pop, but Korea as a whole, which is why controversies like these really end up hurting celebrities (commercials/brand/whatever).

For whatever reason though, I feel like international mainstream sites haven’t been giving international fans all the details of the situation. People seem confused about what the problem actually is and why Rain is getting such hatred, thus resulting in them rushing to condemn either him or netizens. My goal here is to explore what has actually happened and what people really have a problem with.

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Initially, I understood both sides to an extent. I knew why netizens were pissed at him, and I assumed he was getting special treatment, but I shrugged it off as the status quo, basically.

Well, it turns out his treatment wasn’t that special after all.

Note: These translations are from a fan site. However, not only are they legit translations but there are corroborating sources on the same stories.

The authorities have issued a statement clarifying their position regarding the controversy that has arisen regarding whether the singer Rain(age 31, Jung Ji Hoon), known to be in a romantic relationship with actress ‘Kim Tae Hee’, received special preferential treatment during his military service.

On the 4th, the MBC TV show entitled ‘Section TV Entertainment Communications’ (hereafter referred to as “Section”) reported on the controversy regarding the special preferential treatment Rain allegedly received as an entertainment soldier.

According to the report made by Dispatch, Rain went on dates with ‘Kim Tae-Hee’ as frequently as around once a week since last November, while on overnight or daytime leave. Immediately following the report, there was a deluge of critical comments on the internet claiming that “The military granted Rain preferential treatment as an entertainment soldier.”

In actuality, the average number of days that an ordinary soldier receives for vacation is 44 days. Entertainment soldiers receive an average of 75 days, which is around 1.7 times more.

So basically, he didn’t do much out of the ordinary at all for his position, but he’s now the face for the public’s outrage.

The military could have left the situation at that, but they went even further, basically saying outright that their wrath is being misplaced.

In a phone call with Joy News 24 on the morning of the 3rd, Mr. ‘Shin In Gyun’ commented that “There appears to be a tendency to escalate this issue into a severe witch hunt in a manner that reminds me of past incidents involving Tablo and Tajinyo. It’s necessary to evaluate the situation more level-headedly” and disclosed the results of his research.

According to Representative Shin, as had been disclosed by the Defense Agency for Public Information Services, Corporal ‘Jung Ji Hoon’ received a total of 17 days of reward vacations and 10 overnight leaves granted based on individual performance and 44 days of overnight leaves for the performance of work duties in the 10 month period he worked as an entertainment soldier in the Defense Ministry beginning in March of last year, making a sum total of 71 days of vacations or overnight leaves.

Representative Shin explained the reasons for the leaves in detail, arguing that “It is incorrect for the media to exaggerate based on this data to give the impression that Corporal ‘Jung Ji Hoon’ used as much as 71 days of vacation or leave days.”

We’re all familiar with how the Internet can be, especially when the issue at hand invokes strong emotions. As such, the reaction isn’t a surprise, but a lot of it is still undeserved.

Of course, that’s not to say that Rain has been completely without fault.

Corporal ‘Jung Ji Hoon’ (singer Rain) who violated the decree on military service in the process of dating with his girl girlfriend while off the base for official military duties, has been placed under a period of probation of one week. The degree of the punishment for him is the lowest among ordinary private soldiers.

Therefore, corporal Jung must take time for self-examination by writing letters of apology, only in designated areas inside the Defense Media Agency where he belongs, for a week from tomorrow. He’ll sleep and eat in the same place as his soldier mates do, but he will be excluded from all the usual training schedules. He is alleged to have not raised any particular objection to their decision.

Before this, a Defense Ministry officer said, “Rain violated the degree on military service four times by moving alone not led by any military official in charge while off the base for official military duties and by not wearing his beret.”

In a nutshell though, his punishment was light because he didn’t actually do much wrong other than not wearing his hat and being given rides home by Kim Tae Hee on four occasions.

So why the outrage? Because they’re calling for punishment that revolves around the assumption that he has been taking extra vacation days, getting preferential treatment, and all sorts of stuff that didn’t actually happen, at least as far as his own role in the military goes.

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Speaking of his role, one factor that can’t be explained away is Rain’s transfer to the celebrity soldier division to begin with.

Rain will transfer from the 5th division’s recruitment training center to the Ministry of National Defense as a PR agent. An associate told enews on March 8, “Rain is expected to come to the Ministry of National Defense around March 13. I believe discussions are currently being made on the work Rain will do there.”

Rain enlisted into the army last October opting to serve in a regular army unit and was sent to the 5th division’s recruitment training center. However on February 17 he applied for the Ministry of National Defense’s recruitment for its PR recruitment and was accepted as a PR agent on February 23.

This news was confirmed and reported by Rain fan sites themselves at the time.

So while he’s certainly not responsible for how he’s represented in the media right now, he did make the choice to become a celebrity soldier.

So why is that significant, right?

Well, the actual point of contention for netizens seems to be whether special treatment for celebrity soldiers should even exist to begin with, and while that issue isn’t directly the fault of Rain — since he likely isn’t being treated any different in terms of his actual duties than a litany of other celebrities now and in the past — the nature of his scandal (dating a famous celebrity) has made him the face of the issue nevertheless. As such, he’s taken an unfair brunt of the public outcry because people needed a scapegoat to thrust their existing woes on.

The mixture of circumstances has led to confusion in international circles, but I think this article paints a fair overall picture of what has actually happened with the issue at hand. Basically, people feel slighted by the unfair circumstances created for the privileged and have chosen Rain’s case to make their point on. While I understand and support their general cause, using him as their personal pinata is both unproductive and ironically unfair to him.

Trying to kill Rain’s career is going to do little to change things in the long-term, and I think it actually distracts the public from the actual catalyst within this issue: their problem with how the military runs mandatory service.

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