I was eleven years old when I discovered BIGBANG. Haru Haru had only released the month prior and the battle between G-Dragon and T.O.P in the music video appealed to the very dramatic sense of self my pre-teen years were evolving toward. I would watch the music video on loop with my friend Susan as we sat in the school cafeteria and traded song recommendations. She was from China and had introduced me to SHINee, Super Junior, and BIGBANG. I introduced her to Jonas Brothers and Hilary Duff.
Fast forward fifteen years (almost), and I still consider those lunch room moments some of the most formative and important of my life. They taught me to appreciate international artists, the lessons that music transcends language, and that if handsome boys fight over you, you might die in the hospital before G-Dragon can race to your side. And in all these years, some of these artists have become greater influences than members of my own family. Such is the case with BIGBANG, and specifically Kwon Jiyong, or G-Dragon.
One of the lessons I have not outlined above, but one of equal importance as I grew and learned to understand the dynamics of following artists from other cultures and lifestyles was that my voice was not as loud as the ones that spoke their language, lived in the cities, attended their shows, and followed their same culture. But, I’ve also learned that those cultures are not always ones that I want to align myself with — at least in circumstances of beauty standards, media, or the relationship between artist and fan. And now here, in 2023, I’m facing the same type of lesson — one that is not any easier to swallow at the age of 25 than it had been at 11.
As G-Dragon has been recently accused of criminal acts (drug use) in a country that has zero tolerance of it, I’ve found myself growing increasingly enraged at the way he is being treated by his fellow Koreans, by the media that has always profited from him, and by the company that built an empire on his back and then turned theirs on him in his time of need. The headlines scream that he has been arrested, that he is involved in a drug scandal, that he is a user. And in typical stan Twitter fashion, obnoxious, mean-spirited fans read headlines and run with them, treating them as fact, trying and convicting an artist they don’t follow or listen to, and destroying the reputation of a man they know nothing about.
The facts are: Jiyong has not been arrested. He has not been tested for drugs. He has not been interrogated. He has not even had any real opportunity to defend himself and before he could even make a statement, his name had trended internationally and his reputation besmirched with gossip and toxicity. This is not what I believe, this is not what the justice system has stated, and it is not about to be the final word when I have a platform and a voice that can help spread the truth of G-Dragon’s situation. My voice may not be as loud as Knetz which I learned before, but it still exists and I’m prepared to use it.
G-Dragon has single-handedly shaped a generation of idols, set trends in the industry, and achieved legendary status through hard work, humility, and raw talent. No rumor or toxic fandom/fan war can take that away. But, beyond being the legend, he’s still a man and one who has been quite open about his struggles with depression through the years. The fact that his mental health is not as important as selling ad space on smear pieces speaks volumes for the toxicity of media in his country. And the fact that it takes a 25-year-old nobody with a wordpress and a url to speak the truth and try to set the record straight shows the entire world that change must happen. Life is too short to invest your time in tearing down other people, no matter how much larger than life they may seem than you.
VIP are sharing the hashtag #WeStandWithGDRAGON on social media to spread the word that there are more of us than there are negative hit pieces. And there are. We do stand with G-Dragon. We are by his side forever. We know the truth, and now so do you.
To read more articles about G-Dragon, click here.