WHEN photographs emerged of South Korean president Moon Jae-in’s new bodyguard at the weekend, they sent social media into meltdown.
The chiselled, Hollywood good looks of 35-year-old Choi Young-jae have sparked jokes that he needs his own bodyguard to keep adoring fans at bay while he keeps the president safe.
You would think the fawning over Choi’s looks would be considered a distraction by a new administration keen to move the country forward in the wake of the impeachment scandal that ended the reign of its first female president Park Geun-hye.
But many people believe beauty is all part of President Moon’s master plan.
“Netizens wittily suggest that President Moon Jae-in has hired ‘good-looking’ professionals … as the attractive public face of the new administration,” observed journalist Eom Da-sol in an article for the Korea Times.
“The first person responsible for the suggestion is Moon himself. Photos of the handsome younger Moon went viral on social media when his campaign camp first released them in 2012. “One person commented: ‘He will be the first handsome president of Korea’.”
The cluster of good looking people President Moon has surrounded himself with has been variously dubbed “the handsome brigade” and the “reign of beauty”.
Members include Im Jong-seok, the new chief of staff at the presidential residence, whose popularity with the opposite sex can be traced back to his college days.
Former classmates say Im was quite the heartthob at Hanyang University, so much so that when he ran for campus president, female students would steal so many of his campaign posters that he was forced to have hundreds more copies printed.
New senior presidential civil affairs secretary Cho Kuk is also part of the “handsome brigade”.
Years ago, during his days as a law professor at the Seoul National University, Cho was constantly fending off besotted students, who would leave him unsolicited gifts.
“I felt uncomfortable about my popularity when I was an undergraduate student,” he told the Busan Daily in 2012.
“Dairy drinks or chocolate snacks were piled on my school library seat almost every day.”
Choi Young-Jae is ‘unfortunately’ married with kids, according to a government press release issued in response to unprecedented public interest in the bodyguard
However, there is no doubt that the buzz surrounding Choi Young-jae leaves Cho, Im and even the viral pictures of “young hot President Moon”, in the shade.
After photographs of the bodyguard sent social media into meltdown all over the world at the weekend, President Moon’s office issued a — rather coy — public statement.
It said Choi was a former officer with Korea’s Special Warfare Command before adding that he was “unfortunately” married with two daughters.
The fact that Choi is taken has in no way dulled his appeal to fan girls and boys who continue to gush over pictures of him online, posting lines such as “I surrender to this ‘reign of beauty’ with no objections.”
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