South Korean actress Kim Tae-ri, star of the blockbuster television series, ‘Twenty-Five, Twenty-One,‘ and the internationally acclaimed movie, ‘The Handmaiden,‘ recently found herself at the center of controversy.
The spark that ignited this social media firestorm was her request for fans to translate her vlog series voluntarily, ‘So This Is The Place?,‘ from Korean or English into their native languages. This controversy came to light on May 22 when the actress announced a new subtitling project through a now-deleted Instagram post. As seen in the archived post by Koreaboo, she encouraged her fans to participate by providing a Google Form where they could register to translate her vlogs.
One thing that stood out about this initiative was the lack of financial compensation offered to these translators. The only reward that was proposed, according to the details on the form, was the option for volunteer translators to include their email addresses or social media handles at the end of the vlogs. This aspect did not sit well with many fans, and the online world quickly filled with critical voices.
The situation escalated rapidly, leading to an uproar among fans and netizens. As Koreaboo reported, they expressed their dissatisfaction with what they labeled as a request for ‘free labor.’ They pointed out the exhaustive nature and complexity of translation work, highlighting that it’s typically a paid job:
“No, but volunteer work through YouTube? And what’s more, is that it’s an issue even if she donates all the profits off YouTube/this isn’t talent donation but passion pay. But it’s not even passion pay; it’s straight-up payless.”
As the controversy grew, Kim deleted her Instagram post the same day. However, this move also resulted in backlash from the fans:
“Isn’t she just pretending it didn’t happen? Doesn’t she have to upload an apology or something, at least?”
In response to this wave of backlash, Kim Tae-ri’s agency, Entertainment MMM, released a statement on May 23rd, attempting to clarify their stance. They noted that the vlog series does not generate any income from advertisements or any other means. As they pointed out, the primary objective of the series was to bring Kim closer to her international fans:
“Since the inception of ‘So This Is The Place?’ and as the work on the English subtitles continues, Tae-ri’s commitment to her fans has been the sole driving force. The only intent behind the request for translation help was to make the vlogs more accessible to international fans.”
Despite their ‘good intentions,’ the agency acknowledged the unintended distress their announcement had caused. They expressed deep regret and emphasized that they never meant to exploit anyone’s work or time. They also claimed to ensure fair compensation in instances where it was required.
While the controversy brewed, the actress stayed silent initially. However, later, Kim Tae-ri apologized in separate Instagram posts, one in English and the other in Korean. She acknowledged her fans’ discomfort with her initial announcement and expressed her regret for any distress caused:
“Above all, I’m sorry for the trouble I have caused. I’d like to express my apologies to everyone I made feel uncomfortable. As I was worried that this might cause further discomfort to many people, I was cautious and delayed in addressing this issue. I am writing this to convey my apologies to those who may be disappointed in me.”
It’s important to note that the actress’s vlog series is part of her effort to connect more deeply with her fans. She shares snippets of her daily life, and she is personally involved in every step of the process, from filming to editing and even the English subtitles.
As things stand now, the future of the subtitling project remains uncertain. The volunteer application site has been taken down, and neither Entertainment MMM nor Kim Tae-ri has offered any further comment on the matter. While Kim Tae-ri’s intentions were to foster a closer relationship with her international fan base, the execution inadvertently led to this controversy.