How many second chances does Kangin really deserve?

As we all know by now, Super Junior’s Kangin was involved in a DUI in Shinsadong, Gangnam earlier this week. No, it’s not 2009 again – Kangin really has repeated the offence which led to his premature military enlistment in 2009. According to the police report, Kangin’s blood alcohol level was high enough for his license to be suspended, and he voluntarily went to the police station 11 hours after the incident. In his own words, at the time of the accident Kangin was aware that he had hit something while driving but had no idea what it actually was that he hit.

Kangin, who has managed to make some progress in the past couple of years since returning from the military, has made it clear that he hasn’t learnt a lesson from the first time he committed his crime. His repeating of this crime begs the question – does he do this often, and has only ever been caught twice?

Kangin’s disregard for others in this situation is baffling. It’s unlikely that he didn’t have the money for a cab home, being that he drives a Mercedes Benz, and it’s just as unlikely that no managers or other Super Junior members would be unable to pick him up. The circumstances of this DUI are such that it seems as though Kangin felt this was a crime he could get away with, and simply didn’t manage to this time.

Korean netizen comments have been scathing in the wake of the accident:

[+4,227, -28] He’s just a delinquent to the bone ㅋㅋㅋ If he never became a celebrity, he would’ve ended up being your average neighborhood thug ㅋㅋㅋㅋ
[+79, -1] Shouldn’t he be kicked out of the industry?

[+71, -1] At this point I think it’s fair to consider a retirement

SM has issued a statement that Kangin will be halting all activities, and has been asked to ‘reflect’. This would appear to be 2016’s answer to military enlistment, but the question is: what exactly will be gained from this? It’s obvious that Kangin learned nothing from his previous accident – God knows it must be difficult to make the connection that ‘drinking + driving = a crime’.

There haven’t been any statements or mentions of this from other Super Junior members although Heechul has deleted his Instagram. It’s not clear whether this is as a reaction to Kangin’s incident or whether the deletion is coincidental.

More than anything else, it makes you wonder what fame and a small piece of power can mean for people. Does Kangin think he can get away with this because he’s an idol? Harking back to the infamous Kim Hyunjoong case, signs would point to this being the case. It’s not exactly secret that fans often build up idols into something superhuman and, as such, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that idols begin to think of themselves as being superhuman too – beyond the reach of scrutiny or consequences. Kangin has been on the receiving end of many comments from fans condemning him and his actions but there will always be fans who wish to absolve their idols of all guilt and give them a million second chances. While many fans are critical of Kangin for his decision to drive under the influence, some are making it clear that they are standing by him no matter what citing the reason that ‘everybody makes mistakes’.

Herein lies a clear divide; a mistake is something that a person does once, erroneously. Many fans were receptive to Kangin’s first attempt at repentance. However, the fact that this is now something which has happened multiple times cheapens this and draws into question whether Kangin’s actions of the past few years have been sincere. We might idolise them, but an idol who shows such blatant disregard for the lives of others likely doesn’t deserve it.

Whatever Kangin’s reasons are for this, they will not make up for it. Korean netizens and international fans alike are unhappy with Kangin and his disregard for other people and it makes you wonder how long SM Entertainment can continue to cover up for his mistakes before they wonder whether he’s just a series of court cases waiting to happen.

 

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Helen

Production journalist, sociology grad and video games enthusiast. I really love Epik High. Tweeting at @hm_worthed