I enjoy how cultural norms vary, sometimes leading to a new way to look at things while other times making me scratch my head endlessly still unable to wrap my mind around certain seemingly odd practices. This particular one is harmless but very strange indeed. Maybe it happens in other countries as well so chime up if you’ve heard of it. Last week the National Tax Service, Korea’s tax-collecting bureau, released its annual list of exemplary tax payers. This year’s list consisted of 844 names of corporations, businesses, and individuals who have been recognized by the NTS to receive recognition in a meeting with the president for pretty much paying their taxes on time and accurately. In short, these people and organizations are doing exactly what every South Korea citizen is required under the law to do, but since people don’t actually do it the ones who do actually get a commendation. Weird, huh? This year’s list contained the names of two very A-list celebrities – Gong Yoo and Ha Ji Won. As if those two don’t already have a goody two shoes image, this spackles on another layer of being a model celebrity for the masses.
Both are them are raking in the dough as well with successful dramas, movies, and so many CFs each I swear every third commercial has one of them in it. Right now Gong Yoo’s hot movie The Suspect is still doing well at the box office while Ha Ji Won is owning the television with her hit drama Empress Ki. Up next for her after EK wraps is the Korean movie adaptation of the famed Chinese novel Chronicle of a Blood Merchant alongside Ha Jung Woo. I’ve been wanting Gong Yoo and Ha Ji Won to do a project together (ANY PROJECT) for years but it remains a pipe dream for 2014 since she’s got her scheduled lined up through the end of the year. Both of them are savvy project pickers with way more hits than misses but my gut tells me their A-list status will likely land a movie collaboration over a drama being big enough to accommodate both of their britches with two equally compelling leads. This good tax payer award will be passed out on March 3rd and both are expected to be in attendance since it’s considered a rather big honor. I kinda want to laugh at the implication if an established star never wins this award, does the negative mean they are very shady taxpayers? LOL, I’m kidding, but its hard to deny that tax evasion isn’t a big deal in Korea and plenty of celebs have gotten in hot water over the years for alleged tax evasion. At least I know my beloved Gong Yoo and Ha Ji Won won’t get into that hot water.
Last year’s celebrity honorees were Uhm Tae Woong and Han Ga In and both of them went on to be appointed goodwill ambassadors for the National Tax Service. And to go even another year back, Uhm Tae Woong and Han Ga In took over the baton from their sunbae model taxpayers Han Ji Min and Jang Hyuk. This is serious business, people!
Pay your taxes South Koreans! If not you’ll make Gong Yoo and Ha Ji Won cry. If in ten year’s time the only ever time these two show up at the same place is to accept some model taxpayer award, imma be really pissed. Make a project together!