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[Editorial] Celebrity tax evasion

Many top entertainers and sports stars make large donations to charity. It is often reported that their acts of sharing are related to their extremely difficult lives before they reached stardom. Even if some of them insist on not making their donations public, their charitable deeds become known to their fans in one way or another and their popularity further rises.

Yonhap News last week produced a list of celebrities who “habitually” make donations to charity. Pop singer Kim Jang-hoon was given the top place for the great frequency of his giving as well as the large sum of his aggregate donations, which is thought to have exceeded 10 billion won (about $10 million). The list included singers Park Sang-min, Cho Yong-pil and Jang Na-ra and movie actor Bae Yong-joon and actress Moon Geun-young.

Among others are famous acting couple Cha In-pyo and Shin Ae-ra, TV presenter Kim Je-dong, figure skater Kim Yu-na, golfer Choi Kyung-ju and soccer coach Hong Myung-bo. Even before the exposure of their donations, these names were already well thought of for their personal charms and modest behavior exhibited through their respective areas of activity.

So, it is doubly unfortunate that comedian Kang Ho-dong and actress Kim A-jung had their names included in another list of entertainers leaked from tax offices currently investigating tax evasion by celebrities. Their managers promptly issued statements apologizing to fans for disappointing them with such improprieties. Media reports had it that they were slapped fines of several hundred million won each.

Ironically, Kang had been chosen as an honorary taxman in 2009 and Kim in 2007 by the National Tax Administration for their faithful taxpaying records. It was learned that they failed to make correct tax returns last May although their incomes had soared over the past years.

Charitable donations by entertainers are not necessarily in proportion to their earnings or popularity. Conversely, being on the list of tax evaders may not instantly affect any entertainers’ popularity, but it would not help their public image either. Their fans would like them to only make it onto the other kind of list in future.