Korean influencer Song Ji-a, better known by her online moniker Freezia, was one of her country’s biggest stars a few short weeks ago.
Following her appearance on Netflix‘s South Korean dating show Single’s Inferno, the 25-year-old’s popularity exploded, earning her millions of followers who were blown away by her designer wardrobe and coolly confident demeanour.
However, her star fell almost as fast as it rose after fans discovered the luxury items she’d been flaunting on social media were all fake.
Rise and fall: Korean Netflix star Song Ji-a has been ‘cancelled’ in Korea after fans discovered her lavish lifestyle as a fashion influencer was created using designer knock-offs
Not only did she wear counterfeit designer clothes on Single’s Inferno, Ji-a had gone even further by featuring dodgy knock-offs in sponsored Instagram posts and YouTube fashion haul videos.
In one instance, she brandished a counterfeit handbag from Dior in a sponsored ad for the brand’s Miss Dior perfume.
While it’s not uncommon for influencers to exaggerate their lives on social media for clout, Ji-a’s fakery has hit fans particularly hard because her entire image was based on wealth and privilege.
She racked up more than three million Instagram followers off the back of her appearance on Single’s Inferno, becoming the breakout star of the series thanks to her seemingly enviable lifestyle.
Popular: Following her appearance on Netflix’s Single’s Inferno, the 25-year-old’s popularity exploded, earning her millions of followers on Instagram and YouTube
Not only did her good looks and sense of style earn her hoards of fans, she was also praised for being a ‘golden spoon’ – a Korean term for somebody born into a wealthy family.
She boasted about living at the Seoul Forest Trimage, which is one of the country’s most desirable apartment complexes and a favourite among K-pop idols and celebrities.
She also attended one of Korea’s top schools, Hanyang University, which only added to her popularity in the education-obsessed country.
But after her designer scandal broke, fans did some digging and discovered she was just a dance major at Hanyang, while others claimed her apartment may have been rented by her Chinese management agency.
Fake: Not only did she wear counterfeit designer clothes on Single’s Inferno (pictured), Ji-a had gone even further by featuring dodgy knock-offs in sponsored Instagram posts and YouTube fashion haul videos
‘At this rate, she needs to just delete her Instagram account,’ wrote one Korean fan.
‘Why did she lie about being a golden spoon celeb… all that arrogant sass about beating anyone on Single’s Inferno. With what? With your luxury brands?’
Another wrote: ‘These influencers get paid thousands for these brand ads, she basically committed fraud by showcasing a fake Dior bag on a Dior ad.’
‘It’s a problem that she lied to raise her views and earn financial gain from said lies. That’s a scam, isn’t it? It’d make no sense for viewers to stay calm when they were played by her lies,’ a third added.
‘It’s embarrassing, because why not be honest? It seems like she is embarrassed about her upbringing. She could’ve made videos about affordable good dupes, but she didn’t, which says something about her too,’ complained another.
Deceptive: In one instance, she brandished a counterfeit handbag from Dior in a sponsored ad for the brand’s Miss Dior perfume (pictured)
‘I think people are hating more because she tried to make herself up to be a golden spoon. People wouldn’t have cared if she was just honest about being a normal college student living alone in a studio,’ added one fan.
Ji-a issued a grovelling handwritten apology on Instagram last week, saying sorry to both her fans and the designer brands she had ‘infringed’ on.
‘As a person with a dream of launching a brand, I will seriously recognise the controversy and reflect deeply. All content with exposed fakes has been deleted. I also apologise to the brands who were harmed because of me,’ she said.
It was all a lie? While it’s not uncommon for influencers to exaggerate their lives on social media for clout, Ji-a’s fakery has hit fans particularly hard because her entire image was based on wealth and privilege
However, since the apology the controversy has only grown more intense, as more and more designer fakes continue to resurface.
She is also under fire for her perceived pro-Chinese sentiment, after a video on one of her Chinese social media channels saw her refer to South Korea’s national dish kimchi as ‘pao cai’, a Chinese term for pickled vegetables.
‘Kimchi must be called kimchi no matter where you are in the world,’ raged one Korean.
‘Kimchi is pao cai? Are you kidding me? Just go to China already,’ snapped another.
Golden girl? Not only did her good looks and sense of style earn her hoards of fans, she was also praised for being a ‘golden spoon’ – a Korean term for somebody born into a wealthy family
‘Sure… I understand the desire to make more money… and get famous… yes… but you’d sell your own country for it??? I wouldn’t call myself a patriot but I fail to understand how she could do this…’ wrote one critic.
‘I didn’t care for the other stuff about her scandal but messing with kimchi is crossing the line.’
Since the kimchi fallout, Ji-a has removed all posts from her social media accounts with the exception of her handwritten apology on Instagram and a second apology, in video form, on her YouTube channel.
In her second apology, a sombre Ji-a is dressed in all black with no makeup on.
Backlash: She is also under fire for her perceived pro-Chinese sentiment, after a video (pictured above) on one of her Chinese social media channels saw her refer to South Korea’s national dish kimchi as ‘pao cai’, a Chinese term for pickled vegetables
‘I should have been more careful as someone who runs a YouTube channel. I have damaged the brand’s value by using counterfeit products,’ she said, according to Koreaboo.
‘Furthermore, I have disappointed everyone who once believed in me and I am sorry for that.’
‘In the beginning, I bought the items strictly because they were pretty and then I began to receive a lot of love from the public. I wasn’t able to come to my senses and I found myself falling deeper into them [fakes],’ she continued.
‘I have disappointed everyone who once believed in me’: The 25-year-old hung her head in shame in a sombre apology video shared to YouTube on Tuesday
‘I kept falling for them [fakes] even more and focused my energy on the Song Ji-a I wanted to show to the public.
‘I have been reflecting on my actions every day. I recognise my shortcomings and I regret my actions. I have been living while reflecting on my actions. I am sorry.’
She finished: ‘Everything is my fault, so I ask that you would stop criticising my family. I’m sorry.’
The young star also said she was taking time away to ‘reflect’ on her actions.
Smash hit! Single’s Inferno premiered on Netflix in December and has been a huge hit, earning comparisons to Love Island
She had already pre-filmed interviews and appearances on a number of Korean variety shows, but her screentime has now been edited down, and in some cases, she’s been removed entirely from the shows altogether.
While Ji-a has now effectively been cancelled in Korea for the time being, many of her Single’s Inferno co-stars are enjoying their newfound fame.
Cast member Kang Soyeon recently landed the cover of Korea’s Maxim magazine, while Shin Ji-yeon has scored sponsorship deals with Alexander Wang and Chanel.
New queen bee? While Ji-a has now effectively been cancelled in Korea, her co-star Shin Ji-yeon (pictured) has landed sponsorships with Chanel and Alexander Wang
Single’s Inferno premiered on Netflix in December and has ranked in the global top ten most-watched shows for the last two weeks.
The slow-paced series follows a group of sexy singletons stranded on a deserted island and forced to live together.
With limited supplies and the searing summer heat, they must work together to survive the outdoors while competing in challenges each day.
She’s fit! Cast member Kang Soyeon recently landed the cover of Korea’s Maxim magazine (pictured) and has racked up 1.2 million Instagram followers
In a surprising twist, the singles aren’t allowed to share their ages or occupations with each other, and must instead rely on their ‘natural charms’ to form a connection.
If they do manage to couple up, they’re able to escape the ‘inferno’ for the night and head to ‘paradise’ – a luxury hotel nearby where they can say and do anything.
In a similar style to Gogglebox, a group of Korean celebrities and comedians watch and react to the action in real time throughout the course of the episodes.
While it’s quite tame compared to Western dating shows like Love Island, Single’s Inferno has become a blockbuster hit all across Asia and made international headlines too.
Premise: The slow-paced series follows a group of sexy singletons stranded on a deserted island and forced to live together