Although social media brought celebrities closer than ever, anyone’s online presence — whether you’re famous or not — is still far removed from day-to-day reality. In K-pop, where most idols maintain a highly-curated image that is closely monitored by their companies, this veneer is even more apparent. Idols have been opening up more in recent times, but it’s still impossible to say we truly know who they are, in the same way we can’t say that about most people in our lives either. 

Moved by this desire to know more in an environment that prizes secrecy, K-pop fans developed a special fondness for practices such as astrology, Tarot readings, and predictive accounts. In times of turmoil, like the recent bullying controversies involving several idols, it’s expected of fans to want as much information as possible. Hence why these practices become even more attractive: they provide different perspectives to consider or help confirm fans’ judgements. 

While most of these accounts disclose that they are for recreational purposes or offer simple food-for-thought, it’s important to discern if their creators have genuine intentions and respect ethical boundaries. Just because an idol is a public figure, it doesn’t mean they don’t deserve privacy and respect. Besides that, using these techniques to promote animosity, gatekeeping, or fear-mongering not only is wrong but also contributes to discredit the work of honest practitioners.

Tony Leggett, also known as Dear Tony on his YouTube channel, is one of the latter. An adorable elder who isn’t exactly a K-pop fan, he became a source of comfort and awe to many with his palm reading videos. In speedy, snappy 2-minute analysis requested by his subscribers, Tony offers insights into celebrities’ personalities through observing their hands. 

“Historically, hand analysis and palmistry have been used for thousands of years. Alexander the Great used it to find the best officers for his army,” Tony explains to Seoulbeats. “Palmistry, for most people, means ‘fortune telling.’ I am not a fortune teller, I do a form of palmistry called ‘hand analysis,’ which identifies a person’s hidden talents, karmic lessons, and personality traits, as well as possible faults and roadblocks to avoid or overcome.”

In his videos, Tony will never confirm that an idol can or will do a certain thing, but he does bring awareness to both advantages and potential issues. Long fingers usually indicate talent and sensitivity, while strong lines mean certainty and clarity. A prominent first finger might show up as self-assuredness, while a bent pinky could indicate that the person tends to distort the truth, and knots represent blockages of energy. For the hundreds of idols in his archives, he notices a pattern of “long fingers and strong head, heart, and especially fate lines.”

His most popular video so far is a palm reading of Stray Kids‘ former member, Woojin. Recorded in 2018, Tony warned that the singer was “A toy boy…only here to have fun” and “Doesn’t always tell the truth.” A year later, Woojin left Stray Kids under controversial circumstances, and in 2020, he was accused of sexual harassment and that his new label was fake. While there’s still speculation regarding the veracity of these accusations, many fans sought Tony’s perspective to help shape their own.

When asked about the accuracy of his readings, Tony says he has no control over it. “My readings are just warning signs, not predictions. They have free will. Human frailties such as ego, insecurity, and jealousy may cause abusive behavior, but hand analysis can only identify that potential in an individual in any line of work. Fame and idolization gives them power over susceptible fans,” he adds. Other videos in his channel that gained popularity after scandal news are Big Bang’s Seungri, Red Velvet’s Irene, and, more recently, Stray Kids’ Hyunjin.

When many fans conflate opinions and information with polarized offenses, discernment is an important asset, and Tony is fully aware of the boundaries between his work and what fans make out of it. “I’m just giving [viewers] another perspective, not judging the idol. If they wish to judge based on my readings, that is their choice to accept or reject what is said, not mine,” he says.

Tony’s openness to the industry made him a trustable figure among fans. They know he isn’t a bigoted hater, and therefore are kinder in accepting his point of view — even when he says things that could wreak havoc on Stan Twitter. He isn’t afraid to say that an idol seems to “love the ladies and sex,” for example, but he knows where to draw the line. In the palm reading for BlackPink’s Lisa, the requester specifically wanted to know about her sex life, to which Tony responded, “None of your business.”

For fans who want to request readings about their idols, Tony recommends them to pay attention to the year when the picture was taken. “Until the age of 18, hands will change frequently as a person matures. After 18, I suggest no sooner than annual readings, giving time for any personality development and changes to reflect in the hands,” Tony explains. This is another factor that helps to see these readings as flexible suggestions, and not black-and-white sentences.

A holistic view of life is the foundation of Tony’s work. He aims to help others find what is their true essence. “People have free will to create their own best fortunes, however, most do not truly know themselves and how to use what they have. We are programmed by society, school, religion, and parents as we grow up,” he says. “In private readings, my clients are generally confused about who they really are. I give them another, more personal, independent view of themselves. For example, I get questions such as ‘When will I marry?’ My answer is ‘When you want to,’ but I tell them how to attract and recognize their potential soulmate based on compatibility, not just physical attraction, for a lasting relationship.”

Tony reveals that many celebrities have watched his videos and responded positively, some even requesting private client readings. He admits that “it is difficult to help anyone substantially with a short 1 to 2-minute reading,” hence why he advocates for a deeper knowledge of metaphysical science and self-awareness to the younger generations. “I hope it opens their minds and piques their interest to explore more than the physical world around them. The increasing popularity of the K-pop readings and responses have convinced me I am on the right track.”

(Youtube, Dear Tony, SCMP. Images via Tony Leggett, JYP Entertainment.)