A beloved entertainer’s foul playYou can hardly spend a day without watching traditional wrestler-turned-entertainer Kang Ho-dong on television. He regularly appears on the most popular programs on the three major networks, including KBS’s “1 Night, 2 Days,” MBC’s “Golden Fishery” and SBS’s “Star King” to name a few.
His fee for these shows is reported to be as much as 10 million won ($9,300) per episode. When you include his other sources of revenue such as TV commercials, the iconic entertainer, whose nickname is “walking midsized company,” is raking in billions of won every year.
Kang’s reputation as the nation’s M.C. is fitting, representing the audience’s strong affection for him. Viewers laugh and cry at his every word and action, demonstrating just how much his actions have affected the way ordinary people think and behave. It would be fair to say that he has become a public figure of note, rather than simply an entertainer.
Such a high profile demands high morality befitting his stature. The establishment of a charity foundation by Oprah Winfrey, the talk show queen who donated a huge amount of money to philanthropic causes, can be understood in the same context: One would expect such people to have a strong sense of noblesse oblige.
In that sense, it is disappointing news that Kang was fined hundreds of millions of won after having avoided paying his taxes by exaggerating various expenses while underreporting his income. Members of the public, who diligently pay their taxes, will surely feel a keen sense of betrayal at the news. But Kang is not the only entertainer to be charged with tax evasion. Popular actress Kim Ah-joong was also imposed a fine of about 600 million won for similar charges of tax evasion. These reports make us worry that tax evasion has become a common practice within the entertainment industry.
That is why it is so surprising to learn that there is a group of rich Frenchmen willing to have their taxes raised. And U.S. billionaire and philanthropist Warren Buffett proposed a tax increase for the rich because they are in the class that receives great benefits from society. He believes that members of the privileged class should share their wealth through faithful tax payments.
Strictly speaking, an entertainer’s wealth is built on an audience’s love, rather than on individual talent. They should repay this adoration by giving back to the community. They must not forget that a single foul move will make people turn their backs on them in an instant.