20141029_seoulbeats_fashionkingAfter Sulli’s hiatus was announced three months ago, news of her whereabouts have constantly made the rounds on the internet as occasional photos of her personal life have made their rounds on various social media platforms. After skipping out entirely on promotional activities for her film The Pirates and other f(x)-related activities, she will finally make her first official appearance in a while at a press conference for her upcoming movie Fashion King. Fans shouldn’t rejoice too soon, though, since she has since rejected all related interviews and her status in f(x) is still unconfirmed.

While Sulli took a break from her activities in order to ‘get away from malicious rumours’, with all that has happened in her absence, it seems likely that these rumours are likely to intensify with her return. It’s not so much because she has been away, but more regarding what transpired in her absence.

Like I mentioned earlier, there have quite a few photos and fan accounts of Sulli having fun and hanging out with friends — hitting the clubs, hanging out at the pool, and basically doing everything else that normal human beings do. However, apparently, having fun is not permissible when you’re on hiatus since resting and getting a life is mutually exclusive. Some fans have countered that some of the photos were taken from before her hiatus, although that’s just avoiding the real issue here.

Anyhow, the situation was further escalated when SM announced that Krystal fainted at the SMTown Live in Shanghai concert held on October 18. According to fans present at the concert, she fainted as she exited the stage and had to be carried to the waiting van. SM’s official statement is that Krystal has since taken some time to rest (on the flight back maybe?), before being whisked to My Lovable Girl’s filming set.

So here’s where the all the fan angst is coming from. In most cases where SM artistes are involved in an ongoing drama production, they usually skip out on overseas SM Town concerts, as was the case with Sooyoung  (who’s filming for My Spring Day) for the Japan leg. Considering the taxing schedule of a live-shoot drama, Krystal could have probably been a no-show at the SM Town concert in Shanghai as well.

20141029_seoulbeats_fx_smtownHowever, since f(x) is already one man down due to Sulli, there’s no way that f(x) could perform with only three members. And the only solution, other than recruiting someone from Shinee to be a temporary member, is for Krystal to do double duty and perform overseas with f(x) in the midst of her hectic filming schedule. And thus, netizens managed to reach the conclusion that it’s all Sulli’s fault that Krystal had to perform in Shanghai, compromising her health.

Yes, her hiatus indirectly required Krystal to be present, but mindlessly pinning the blame on Sulli is unfair and short-sighted. Even if Sulli had the choice to suddenly come out of hiatus offload Krystal’s responsibilities, I’m pretty sure SM would have given the red light to such a hasty decision. To them, overworking Krystal is preferable to pulling the f(x) stage entirely.

Most of us already know that SM (like many companies) hardly ever puts their artistes’ well-being at the top of their priority, and milking the idols for all they’re worth is a talent they have become infamous for. As usual, people miss the forest for the trees, and it bothers me that the fault is being put on Sulli instead of SM, who probably didn’t care too much about Krystal’s overworked state; after all, this has happened before and nothing much has changed since.

In all the complications that have befallen SM this year, Krystal seems to be unfortunate one stuck in the middle of the web. First, her group member halts their groups promotions to go on a hiatus (and who knows what other drama went on behind the scenes), and then her sister is dropped from SNSD amid much drama. This poor girl really can’t catch a break. On the bright side, she has definitely proven herself to be a resilient worker, juggling her roles as a singer and an actor.

20141029_seoulbeats_sassygirl2_victoria_chataehyunAnd as Krystal is cuddling with Rain for her first lead drama role, her group leader is also pulling her weight in the acting realm. Victoria is slated to star alongside Cha Tae-hyun for My Sassy Girl 2, which is honestly something that has been met with much skepticism from both audience and me alike.

Firstly, the original My Sassy Girl is such a classic that a sequel is pretty much setting itself up for criticism and hate. Even armed with the best cast, Hollywood has taught us that it’s rare for sequels to succeed in bringing back the same magic as the original.

Starring Jeon Ji-hyun as the titular character, Sassy is practically one of the must-watch K-films, even though it was released more than a decade ago. Casting Victoria to replace Jeon while keeping Cha as the male lead is literally begging for direct comparisons between Victoria and Jeon. Not to mention that Cha’s character has broken up with Jeon’s sassy girl, and then gotten together with Victoria’s sassy girl; it doesn’t take a genius to figure out how this Compare and Contrast activity will turn out.

In the first place, Victoria is not an actress per se, and hands down, Jeon is already miles ahead of her in terms of acting ability and charisma. To add to that, Korean is not even Victoria’s first language, and although she’s not atrocious at it, her pronunciation evidently outs her as a non-native speaker. Fine, Victoria had to be cast since it’s a joint China-Korea production, but frankly, with so many things already working against her, it will be hard for her to live up to Jeon’s legacy. I honestly wish her the best.

With f(x)’s future looking murky, it’s understandable that the individual members are building up their own individual resumes in the meantime. However, it’s as if f(x) has only been making bad press this year, and I wish SM would really pay more attention to the remaining four members. Clarifying Sulli’s situation would also be a big help, since this ambiguity is just generating hate for her, whatever she does.

(Calvin Klein, Star Today, Naver, SM Entertainment, YouTube)