South Korean celebrities come under fire over coronavirus protections

Jungkook, shown here at Rumsey Playfield/Summer Stage in Central Park in New York City on May 15, 2019, is among South Korean celebrities who have faced criticism over perceived lapses in coronavirus protections. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI

SEOUL, May 23 (UPI) — Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, South Koreans who fail to keep up with government social distancing guidelines are feeling the heat from online criticism.

Several celebrities, including actress Lee Min-jung, Asian Games gold medalist Son Yeon-jae and BTS band member Jungkook have been called out for perceived lapses.

Lee’s agency issued a press release Wednesday apologizing for causing concern, but the actress ultimately denied the reports, stating that she only briefly visited a friend’s birthday party at a Seoul-area cafe outside of the Itaewon neighborhood.

Son’s agency also said that Son had stayed at the birthday event just half an hour and took off her mask only when she took a picture and gave a gift.

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Lee’s leading roles in many movies have earned her widespread recognition in South Korea, while Son is a retired rhythmic gymnast who won a gold medal in the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.

Earlier this month, BTS member Jungkook expressed regret over making an outing to Itaewon on April 25.

Big Hit Entertainment, the management company for the seven-member BTS, acknowledged that Jungkook spent a night out in Itaewon with three other idol group members around his age.

The Seoul-based label issued an apology for the band member’s failure to recognize the significance of social distancing. It added that Jungkook voluntarily received a test for COVID-19, and the result was negative.

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