The Community Speaks #7 — f(x) & the Ballad of Sulli

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For fans of SM Entertainment’s f(x), the 10 years haven’t been particularly kind. On the dawn of the quartet’s ten-year anniversary, Amber and Victoria opted to not renew their contracts with the record company. Then on Oct. 14, 2019, the unthinkable happened. It’s hard to even put into words the pain that many fans of the experimental group are still dealing with. With the passing of former member Sulli, we’re all left wondering why.

This Community Speaks is solely for the sake of allowing many in our community the chance to express their feelings, to vent their frustrations and their pains. Most importantly, to reflect on one of K-pop’s most intriguing girl groups: f(x).

The Community

Jess: I keep searching for the right place to start with this, but I always circle back to “This sucks.” I know, rather shallow and immature wording, but F(x) in general, and Sulli in particular, deserved far more. F(x) was my favorite girl group. Their diverse and quirky image instantly drew me in. Even after seven years in the K-pop fandom, the “Pink Tape” is one of my favorite albums. They were my girls.

Over the past few years, I was worried about Sulli’s actions. Her showing up on live streams tipsy and yelling at viewers especially concerned me. Why wasn’t her manager or friends watching her back? Why did she feel the urge to do that? On one hand, she was an adult who had the right to live her life. If she wanted to drunk chat or accidentally flash people, who could deny her that right? 

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On the other hand, it did ring of past child stars who crashed and burned. And yes, she was a child star. She acted in dramas and movies since she was 10. At 15, she had signed with one of the biggest entertainment companies in Korea. After 10+ years of image management, in South Korea no less, I’d get restless and lash out too. When you compound that with a negligent company, I’m even more saddened by everything.

I also can’t help but wonder if the other F(x) members have been getting similar treatment? My heart goes out to them and anyone who has to deal with abuse like this.

My heart also goes out to the other ladies of F(x). Not just because of Sulli’s death. But the idea of some of the comments they’ve gotten. I’ve seen Amber joke about it in her blog, but I know there must be some cruel ones in there too.

Wendilynn: Sulli was always unconventional by South Korean standards. She didn’t want to be pigeon-holed into a “type.” When you step outside the box in a culture that encourages sameness, people don’t respond well. They didn’t respond well to her. Idol females are expected to portray this very narrow definition of what a girl is and to keep the male soldiers happy. She dared to date and not wear a bra and somehow, that pissed people off.

I discovered Shinee and F(x) from her drama with Minho and have followed her ever since. Sulli did not deserve the hate she got. She wasn’t a demon. Wasn’t naughty. She was just a person who didn’t want to be told who or what to be. She wanted to figure that crap out for herself. I really respected her for that. 

Child stars tend to have a rough go as they transition from kid to adults, and Sulli got ZIP support during it. She was everyone’s favorite person to hate on. Netizens were brutal and totally out of line. I’m not sure why people think that they can be hateful on social media and have zero accountability.

I can only hope that the shock of what happened to Sulli is a catalyst for South Korea changing their net culture because it’s brutal. I’ve noticed in the last month that just about all the entertainment companies have come out strongly that they will no longer ignore malicious comments. They are finally waking up …. One hopes. 

Cy: I think the overwhelming emotion I feel right now is anger. Anger. A group that really redefined how the look of girl groups, the conduit of so much of SM’s current mind for experimentation. Their company took them so for granted. Even in their twilight, the company that was supposed to nurture them chose not to do so.

The thing that really destroys me is this didn’t have to happen. Do these things ever have to happen? What I mean is there were so many opportunities for people to just do right by these young women. Not just SM, whom we know has a shaky, at best, history with their artists. I mean everyone. The group itself dealt with the lackadaisical treatment with as much as grace as possible. However, those who called themselves “fans,” those who allowed the fantasy of proximity to their bias group overwhelm their common human decency pushed and pushed until they pushed Sulli too far.

This has to stop. How many times? How many people have to suffer, have to lose their battle with their own demons, have to fall prey to the whims of strangers who take abject delight in watching them in pain? Dammit … sadness isn’t a strong enough emotion for what I feel. Anger. Absolute and overwhelming anger. These girls, every last one of them, deserved better.

Missa: I’m on the same page here. Mostly I’ve been angry over the entire ordeal. Once again I’m over here shouting, “HOW MANY MORE BEFORE SOMETHING CHANGES?” 

At the end of the day. Idols and media stars are young, flawed and learning people just like the rest of us who are trying to navigate the world while also existing in a very controlled version of it. I’m angry that despite the signs, everyone expected her to maintain the facade and then ignored her to the point of … well … this. 

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Something needs to change. 


What are your thoughts? Know that this is a safe space. No matter what you’re feeling, your thoughts, so long as they aren’t used to attack others, please don’t hold back. We are here to listen.

If you or anyone you know are having suicidal thoughts or struggling with any sort of mental strain. Or if you or anyone you know just need someone to talk to, please call Suicide Prevention Lifeline or any of the hotlines available all over the world. Also, try 7 Cups, a community for those who might feel alone, and also a safe space to talk to professionals for free.

(Soompi, Asian Junkie, Instagram, SBS, hype, Viki, Yahoo, YouTube [1][2][3], Cosmo.)

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About MACG Staff 138 Articles
MACG Magazine is a digital hub for media on Music, the Arts, Creativity, and Gaming of our generation. We are interested in sharing engaging content with our readers and encouraging them to explore the world around them.

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