shin seul ki

Why does everyone hate Seul Ki? I don’t

I like her. I mean, I love her. Look, Nadine is an obvious crowd favourite and so is So-eun, especially in the century that we live in. I like those girls too, and I think I’m more like them as well. Not as feminine or girly, more at ease and relaxed. But the hate that Seul Ki gets is undeserved. It’s like everyone just refused to acknowledge who Seulki is apart from her beauty and feminine qualities.

And yes, I may be overgeneralizing about “everyone” because it’s obviously not. But I’m reacting to this Youtube video about how Seul ki is allegedly a mean girl.

The Youtuber’s reason is, she was a tease, acting all interested and choosing Dong Woo to go to Paradise and then being really cold and rejecting him once they get there.

Another feedback I got from someone was that she was “arte”, is that prissy in Engish?  Who knows. And I was so confused because Seul Ki isn’t arte at all. She’s very introverted, but she’s also playful, insightful, and clear.

It frustrates me that people refuse to see beyond her physical attributes and make assumptions about her based on them. I feel like there is so much to unpack here.

Even if you like someone and agree to go on a date, it does not mean you have to entertain that person the entire time. You can change your mind, you can say no. It baffles me that many women bashed Seul Ki for this, when in fact, it’s us women who are often placed in uncomfortable situations, raised to fear saying “no.”

And yet, somewhere in the middle of their date in Paradise, Seul Ki felt uncomfortable and placed clear boundaries. She had said she wasn’t sure yet about how she felt, Dong Woo kept pressing her, and he was drunk.

As a woman, I guess I picked up on that cue. There’s a reason why people suddenly feel alert or uncomfortable in a situation, it doesn’t just happen on someone’s whim (maybe with a few coy people but Seul Ki’s anything but.)

She also said something along the lines of “you can’t buy love with money.”  At this point I think I felt that the subtitles didn’t do the show any justice because there must be something in their conversation that made Seul Ki say that.

At a later date, Seul Ki told Dong Woo she did not like him talking down to her. Maybe she felt it was patronizing, or infantilizing her. And some fans have pointed out that he did talk to her in a weird way, that was lost in translation.

Look, at first, I also thought Dong Woo was hot. He’s my type but later on, his energy just didn’t feel good. Now, I’m not a fan of Dong Woo, I think he’s entitled and relies a lot on his good looks and title as a doctor. I also feel he’s into Seul Ki because she’s pretty and would make a trophy girlfriend because she’s an SNU piano major. That’s what he wants, an arm candy who seems submissive.

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But look, if Seul Ki has had a string of admirers, she would know the kind of men to watch out for, the kind that wants her just as a trophy, and maybe she picked up on this.

According to Koreaboo, Seul Ki’s dad is apparently one of the top plastic surgeons in Korea, if it’s true, the way she backed off when she found out he was a plastic surgeon seems more justified.

People say it was because she was unimpressed but I think it’s more so because she’s familiar with the industry.

If you know the lifestyle that comes with a certain profession or have experienced it firsthand, you usually avoid people from that profession. Of course, one shouldn’t generalize but it’s something like, how we’re wary of tech bros or finance bros or real estate bros? I felt like Seul Ki was wary of that. Maybe she’s had a lot of condescending doctors running after her. Maybe her parents like setting her up with fellow rich kids who are obnoxious. Maybe it’s agonizing to be in the company of plastic surgeons. Who knows. I’m psycho analyzing at this point.

But what’s clear is Seul Ki clearly set her boundaries. She said no. And people are mad that a woman had the gal to listen to herself and her instincts, and then blame it all on her beauty? That’s misogynistic.

It’s weird to me that people demonize feminine qualities as if strong women can’t exist in feminine bodies. Seul Ki may seem frail, but she’s very clear. She’s not interested in Dong Woo, appreciates Jong Woo’s kindness but doesn’t lead him on, and she’s direct with Jin Young.


But also, she’s got no beef with other female contestants. There’s also the comparison with Jia, which I also don’t get. They are very clearly different people. I don’t want to compare them, but here’s something I noticed:

Their clothing choices reveal a lot about them. Jia wore uncomfortable designer clothes, and warm dresses that weren’t really beach-appropriate and she did say in a later interview that she didn’t know what to wear and wanted to make a good impression so she decked herself in designer clothes. Seul Ki is more low-key, and wore clothes that were comfortable. People’s clothing choices can actually say a lot about how they’re comfortable in their own skin. I like both these women, they’re nice to their fellow contestants but I felt that Seul Ki was more self-assured in terms of self-identity. Jia’s definitely more confident about dating and desire. These are my own theories as someone who has worked in fashion for over 4 years.

Anyway, I just don’t get why people think so much less of Seul Ki, it’s almost like their displaced anger is coming from their own insecurities… or internalized misogyny, which is sad. Pretty privilege exists, but it’s sad that people try to shut you up when you try to explain the burden of beauty. People see you less because they only judge your face value, people underestimate you as well. And for some, this doesn’t faze them but for those who grow up in critical households where your hard work is never enough, you also learn to believe what other people say- that you’re just a pretty face. Seul Ki is anything but, you don’t just get born a piano prodigy. Maybe one in a million. But that’s a lot of hard work, physical training, mental strengthening, and just trying to brave through the odds, and believing in yourself.

I was guilty of something similar too, while I didn’t hate her, I first thought Seul Ki was just another bland pretty face. “Ah, they planted another pretty face that’s everyone’s type/ dream girl. What’s new.” and that’s my mistake for assuming that women are so simple. Absolutely not, and Seul Ki proves this.






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