Clara winds up to throw the first pitch at a baseball game in Jamsil, southern Seoul, on May 3, wearing figure-hugging white leggings. She found her name going viral following the event. / Korea Times file
In Internet era, honesty is best policy to keep name untarnished
By Park Si-soo
Rising stars may feel tempted to tell a lie if they think it will be helpful to promote themselves or to avoid possible criticism.
In the pre-Internet era, many of their lies would have traveled unnoticed because of the absence of a digitalized archive of their past remarks. But this is no longer the case since everything is recorded in cyberspace and retrievable with a few clicks. Given the shift, nobody would refute that telling the truth is the best and perhaps the onlyway to keep one's name untarnished.
Actress and model Clara Lee is the latest celebrity paying the price for ignoring the new reality. The 27-year-old, also known as Lee Seong-min, offered a public apology on Saturday, admitting to having lied several times in an attempt to cover up past lies.
"I'm sorry. I'm sorry," Clara said smiling bashfully during popular TV comedy show Saturday Night Live (SNL) Korea, after being admonished by a comedian standing next to her. Top comedian Shin Dong-yup, host of the show, cut in to turn the unfunny situation around, saying, "She (Clara) did it in order to make things funny. Can you promise it will never happen again?" Clara answered, "I'm sorry."
Her appearance on the show came after a self-imposed exile from TV screens and social networking websites for days in an apologetic move. Yet it seems that there are still many disappointed and even angry fans.
"She made an apology on a comedy show with no feeling of remorse showing on her face. Are you kidding me?" an SNL Korea viewer wrote on the program's online bulletin board. Another viewer echoed the same sentiments, saying, "I felt no sincerity from her. This is another smoke screen."
Born in Switzerland and raised in the United States, Clara made her acting debut here in 2006, but remained unknown up until May. She found her name going viral following her honorary first pitch at a baseball game in Jamsil, southern Seoul, on May 3, wearing figure-hugging white leggings.
"I was so happy that I was given the chance to open a game even though I wasn't popular back then," Clara recollected in a talk show in August. "I researched a lot for it. I looked at stars' fashion and the only thing that hadn't been worn was leggings. I wanted to show my healthy body. More than revealing my body, I wanted to hear things like ‘She looks so healthy.'"
The accusation that Clara was being dishonest stems from what is perceived by some online observers as contradictions in her answers during her interviews over the years.
The contradictions include telling the host of the program "God of Food Road" that she doesn't like fried chicken and beer and then expressing her love for classic bar food. Later, in another talk show, she committed a flip-flop, purportedly admitting to how much she loves the combination of fried chicken and beer.
Clara is also accused of lying about whether she had learned yoga, had a celebrity boyfriend, and whether she gave proper credit to the developer of a popular online recipe she reproduced during a variety show appearance.
Initially she was defensive. "I did variety shows that place priority on humor," Clara wrote in her Facebook posting on Sept. 10, when public skepticism about her honesty reached an alarming level. "It wasn't a documentary. I would understand if you said that I was not funny (in my appearances), but if you say that I wasn't truthful then..."
"I don't like chicken and beer, but is it a lie to say I like it when with good friends in a good atmosphere?" she asked in the posting. "If I've never learned yoga but I'm good at it, is that a lie? If I have dated a celebrity before, but didn't want to reveal it, so I said I didn't date one, is that a lie?"
She went on, "I was born in Switzerland, was educated in the U.S., and my citizenship is British. Just like you all have said, maybe I don't know Korean sentiment. So I will work very, very hard to learn and fix it. I think you can hate me and you can leave mean comments and curse at me. However, just because things are different, it doesn't mean they're wrong."