SUPER JUNIOR singer Siwon has opened up about his past experiences with online hate as a K-pop idol.
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In a recent interview with People, the singer was asked to share a few of the most life-changing moments during his work as a UNICEF ambassador. He then recalled a question he received during a UNICEF conference held in Malaysia in 2018, which had focused on cyberbullying.
“Many of those at the conference assumed that I probably hadn’t experienced nor received any malicious comments before,” Siwon said. “When it was my turn to speak, someone asked me, ‘As a K-pop artist, you receive so much love and support from fans so I suppose you might not relate to our struggles. What would you do if you received such hateful comments online?'”
He then admitted that he was initially “taken aback” by the question, but later “calmly” shared more about his own experiences with hate. “[I] spoke of the time I received over a thousand hate comments online, and how at the time, I was afraid and scared,” he confessed.
“However, what I came to realise is that people can talk about me online, but those words have no physical power over me,” Siwon added. “I told them to not be afraid, and if they’re ever exhausted or having a hard time, to let me know because I’ll be there.”
Siwon also shared that following the conference, he received encouraging messages on social media from “two different individuals” who were inspired by his words. “They messaged me to share that they had considered making some extreme decisions but gained courage and changed their minds after hearing me speak,” he shared.
“Many ambassadors go on field trips to provide help, but I realised that my calling as part of UNICEF could be more for the people online,” the 35-year-old star added. “That was the moment that truly influenced me to use my voice to speak up and protect the young users of the online community that are around the world.”
Siwon’s interview with People comes shortly after he released the song ‘Riding’, in collaboration with South Korean duo UV, which is comprised of comedian Yoo Se-yoon and singer Suzie.
The track is the latest solo release from the Super Junior member, who previously contributed songs to the soundtracks of K-dramas such as Work Later, Drink Now – which Siwon also stars in – She Was Pretty and Oh! My Lady.
In other K-pop news, BTS‘ J-Hope has recovered from COVID-19, and will be making his way to Las Vegas to perform at the Grammys with the group. The idol’s label, Big Hit Music, announced on March 30 that J-Hope has made a “full recovery” from COVID-19, and that his quarantine period has now concluded.