|A placard that reads "Park Geun-hye needs to resign" is hung on a building owned by singer Lee Seung-hwan in Seongnae-dong, eastern Seoul. / Korea Times photo by Yang Seung-jun|
By Park Jin-hai
Singer-songwriter Lee Seung-hwan tends to raise his voice about sensitive political issues, unlike most other celebrities who are cautious about revealing their stances.
This time Lee is vocal about what President Park Geun-hye should do in response to the unprecedented influence-peddling Choi Soon-sil scandal plaguing the nation.
The K-pop ballad king has hung a placard on his own company building in Seoul that reads: "Park Geun-hye should resign" since early this month. He is now working on the song "Ditched to the Street" to be released for free to support all citizens in deep despair following the Choi Soon-sil scandal.
Lee also plans to hold events to share his thoughts with more citizens on the Choi scandal, according to industry officials.
"Many of my fellow musicians look at my actions negatively," said the 50-year-old musician on social media after he hung the placard. "Some say I overstepped my power and others keep their distance from me for fear of possible fallout."
Posting a photo of a truck carrying a similar placard, Lee added, "Just thinking that I'm not alone gets me misty-eyed. It is right to wield virtuous influence in the right way."
Lee, known as a socially active entertainer with a sharp tongue, has been outspoken on a series of significant social issues in the past. He joined the anti-U.S. beef import protest in 2008, and held a concert for the victims killed in the "Yongsan Disaster" involving a government-led forced eviction of mom-and-pop tenants in the area early the following year.
"In the past I have been living, not just thinking, about these social issues. That changed after seeing a particular person entering the presidential campaign," said Lee during a 2015 interview with local media, referring to the controversial Four Rivers Restoration Project under the former Lee Myung-bak government. "Against this injustice, I thought I could neither stay neutral nor turn a blind eye," he said at the time.
Lee's act and his wish to "use the influence he has in the right way," as he has always insisted, has had some ripple effects.
Kim Hyun-du, owner of a cafe in Jinan County, North Jeolla Province, made a similar placard to Lee's and hung it on his cafe's wall. "I was shocked to see the well-known person (Lee) taking risks and being vocal about his political opinions," Kim said. "As I also deplore the current political situation, I decided to follow suit and raise my voice."