‘Celebrity,’ Netflix’s South Korean drama show, steeped in the world of rivalry and drama, presents an entertaining tale about Seoul’s most elite individuals. Following Seo Ah-ri, an influencer who comes from a low-income background, the show charts her path to fame and divulges the inner workings of online influencer culture. Ah-ri encounters the industry’s dark secrets and practices as her success grows, which leads to an exposé Instagram Live, where Ah-ri reveals the truth behind everyone’s favorite internet personalities.
Throughout the show, we follow an intense competition between Ah-ri and her former childhood friend turned bitter nemesis, Oh Min-hye. Their contentious relationship greatly contributes to the show’s plot progression while also stoking the narrative’s exploration of envy, scorn, and pretenses of civility within celeb circles. Due to both characters’ positions in society and their contribution to the show’s realistic portrayal of showbiz, people must be curious to know; are these characters based in reality? Let’s find out!
Are Seo Ah-ri And Oh Min-hye Real Influencers?
No, Seo Ah-ri and Oh Min-hye are not based on real influencers. Both characters are a work of fiction created for the purpose of the story by showrunners and their team of screenwriters. As such, although the characters take inspiration from the influencer scene in South Korea, neither is based on any particular individual.
Park Gyuyoung, best known for her work on ‘Sweet Home‘ and her much-anticipated appearance in the upcoming season of ‘Squid Games,’ approached her role as Seo Ah-ri with enthusiasm and great interest. Discussing her experience during the press tour, Gyuyoung expressed how she enjoyed being able to portray complicated and diverse emotions through her character.
Through her journey from an outsider to a newcomer to an industry giant, Ah-ri’s character provides great observation of influencer culture and, as Gyuyoung described it, the cancer of social media. Therefore, there is certainly some truth behind her character and her experiences that have firm roots in reality.
Likewise, Min-hye’s character also presents a realistic facet of fame and success within an online community without directly being based on a real-life celebrity. Before working on the show, Director Cheol-gyu Kim, known for his work on ‘Mother’ and critically acclaimed ‘Flower of Evil,’ knew little about the world of social media. Therefore, while developing ‘Celebrity,’ he devoted himself to thorough research and found help from actress Jun Hyo-Seong, who shared her knowledge of online lingo and customs.
As such, like her character Min-hye, Hyo-Seong is well-versed in social media and has credible experiences with fame. The actress, recognized for her roles in ‘My Dear Cat’ and ‘Memorist,’ has a considerable following on social media. The same must have allowed her to find a connection to the script and deliver a compelling performance. For Hyo-Seong, Min-hye presented an opportunity to express nuances of humanity. Additionally, the actress was curious to understand the intricacies of the influencer lifestyle and how they gain their popularity— a question the show confronts head-on.
In real life, several influencers exist with careers resembling Ah-ri and Min-hye once you take away the dramatics of the characters. For instance, South Korean influencer Jung Ji-woo runs the immensely successful clothing brand MEJIWOO. Likewise, Irene Kim, another Korean fashion influencer, is celebrated for her style and notably collaborates with luxury brands like Chanel and Estée Lauder.
These aspects are reflected, if not replicated, in Ah-ri and Min-hye’s characters. Still, regardless of their slight similarities to a wide range of real-life influencers, Ah-ri and Min-hye are not based on real-life influencers. Both characters take inspiration from real-life instances and online culture, as the show’s themes demand, but outside of the same, both are solely works of fiction.