The new Korean mystery drama series Celebrity revolves around the downside of social media fame. The crazy world of influencers, also known as e-celebrities, is explored in this K-drama. At the center of it is a rags-to-riches story and how ultimately, envy, hatred, and hypocrisy can lead to someone’s downfall. Through the 12 episodes, we watch Seo A-ri transform from a regular door-to-door saleswoman into a social media sensation. But what was the secret behind Seo A-ri’s fame?
‘Celebrity’ Plot Summary: What Happens In The Series?
Seo A-ri was born into an affluent family, but after her father lost his business, she had to give up on her dream of attending an Ivy League school. After dropping out of college, A-ri worked as a door-to-door salesperson and saved up money to provide her brother with a higher education. Her knowledge of beauty products and her fashion sense was useful in communicating with her customers. A-ri stayed away from social media, but her best friend, Yoon Jeong-sun, was deeply invested in it. The online mudslinging between Biniimom and Wang Ro-la kept Jeong-sun glued to her phone screen. A-ri couldn’t care less about such scandals, and she advised her best friend to focus on her job. That day, A-ri demonstrated her products at the house of a renowned lawyer. Her target customers were the domestic helpers working there, and while the demonstration was going as planned, it was suddenly interrupted when the lawyer’s wife, Shi-hyeon, returned home. A-ri hid herself in the walk-in closet, and she was dazzled by the luxury clothes and accessories. She figured out that Shi-hyeon was well-connected with social media influencers, and she was curious to find out how the influencers could afford such a lavish lifestyle. But A-ri resisted her temptation; she decided to stay away from the chaos.
Things changed when A-ri met her schoolmate, Min-hye, at a luxury store. Min-hye assumed that A-ri was still the rich brat she knew in school who went to an Ivy League college. While A-ri tried to tell her the truth, Jeong-sun stopped her. Min-hye was a popular e-celebrity, and Jeong-sun was not ready to let go of the opportunity to know the influencer up close. That day, after returning home, A-ri decided to find out what the craze about becoming an e-celebrity was all about. Even though A-ri did not show an interest at first, she too wanted to earn enough to afford the luxury brands that Min-hye could afford. When Min-hye invited her to a party, she was skeptical, but her mother and Jeong-sun insisted she attend the event. Her mother ran a dry-cleaning store, and she offered A-ri one of her clients’ dresses for the evening. Right after arriving at the party, A-ri’s path crossed with that of the CEO of a beauty company, Han Joon-kyung. He mistook her for Shi-hyeon, and A-ri accused him of harassing her. Joon-kyung was completely mesmerized by A-ri from that moment on, and no matter how bad the allegation was, all he wanted was to spend time with her. At the party, Min-hye introduced A-ri to her influencer friends. A-ri felt uncomfortable knowing that she was lying about her financial condition and that even the dress she was wearing was borrowed. She wanted to confess the truth, but the attention soon shifted from her to Biniimom after she crashed the party.
Binnimom was devastated upon finding out that Min-hye chose not to invite her to the event because of her ugly online altercation with Ro-la. She attempted to physically assault Min-hye, but A-ri stopped her. Biniimom insulted A-ri as well, but A-ri was not ashamed of her truth. She confessed that the dress did not belong to her and that she was not the rich girl she was portraying herself to be. She shamed Biniimom for resorting to insulting others to protect herself, and A-ri’s courage in standing up to someone like Biniimom was instantly celebrated. After the video of the fight went viral, people wanted to know who A-ri was, and her follower count kept on increasing.
How Did Seo A-Ri Get Famous?
By hanging out with Min-hye and her influencer friends, A-ri started to gather followers. Min-hye invited her to her store to promote the beauty products that A-ri sold. By helping A-ri, Min-hye was trying to whitewash her public image. When A-ri realized that Min-hye was using her to her advantage, she felt betrayed. But she did enjoy the attention she received after Min-hye’s live stream. She received requests for sponsorship, and she decided to consult a talent agency to find out the best way to earn money through social media. The manager advised her to mend her relationship with Min-hye, at least on social media, so that the two could take advantage of each other. Min-hye had to fix her image, while A-ri needed someone famous by her side. A-ri’s followers kept on increasing, and the plan was quite a success. But after A-ri was publicly shamed by the Gabin Society, she uploaded a caption taunting them. She also insulted her followers and questioned their intelligence for blindly following people they barely knew. Immediately after uploading the caption, her follower count kept decreasing. An account named “bbbfamous” texted her and offered to help her. They seemed sympathetic to her situation and were ready to counter the damage caused by the post. The keyboard warriors managed to defend A-ri, and her followers were back again. A-ri received better offers; her sudden rise to fame was celebrated, and she was dubbed the modern Cinderella. Her rumored relationship with Joon-kyung helped her stay in the news, though A-ri did not develop any romantic affection for him.
A-ri was invited to a party by Angela, and it turned unexpectedly wild. She was shocked to find influencers doing drugs in secret rooms at the nightclub. Drugged beyond her senses, Chae-hee uploaded a picture of her and A-ri. Shi-hyeon came to her sister-in-law’s rescue along with Joon-kyung. The picture was deleted, but there was another problem at hand—a stranger doing drugs with them in the room had overdosed. Tae-jeon (Shi-hyeon’s husband and a renowned lawyer) arrived to bring his sister home safely. He advised everyone to leave, and he decided to handle the case of overdosing all by himself. A-ri was on the verge of calling an ambulance and informing the police about it, but she was reminded that she, too, would be in trouble because she was in the same room, and there was a picture to prove it. A-ri realized that day how problematic the celebrities were. The ordinary people celebrated them, yet they barely had any respect for those working for them. They were self-centered and arrogant, and the more A-ri got to know them, the more she was disgusted by them. A-ri was later threatened with signing an NDA, but she refused to do so, and Joon-kyung supported her decision. Her feelings for Joon-kyung gradually started to change from that moment onwards.
Why Did A-Ri’s Business Fail?
A-ri was known for her fashion sense, and after meeting her father’s employee, who had his own successful clothing factory, she decided to start her business. She attended an important fashion event and caught the attention of a global supermodel, who promoted her on social media. A-ri’s following skyrocketed, and she launched her own brand. The Gabin Society could not tolerate A-ri’s success; they were hellbent on finding a way to destroy her. When Min-hye overheard a conversation between Shi-hyeon and Tae-jeon about the drug party and how a man died because of their negligence, she decided to post about it on social media through a fake account. Even after knowing that the post would destroy Yu-rang (her best friend) since the man died under her husband’s (Min-chan’s) care, she decided to proceed. She uploaded A-ri and Chae-hee’s pictures from the party and accused them of murder. Tae-jeon’s team managed to pull down the post, but the pictures had already gone viral, and the situation became impossible to control. Joon-kyung warned Tae-jeon that the situation would only get worse and that he must come clean about what had happened that night. But Tae-jeon was not ready to publicly accept his mistake. Meanwhile, Gabin Society started working with BBBFamous to take down A-ri. The account that used to worship A-ri turned into her hate account. They forged A-ri’s chat and uploaded it online to demean her. A-ri was accused of conspiring against all the members of the Gabin Society.
While A-ri was facing the brunt of the forged pictures that were doing the rounds on social media, Tae-jeon’s team found out that Min-hye was behind the post. They pressured her to make a statement acknowledging that she had lied. Min-hye goes on record to state that she lied because A-ri asked her to. She went on to claim that A-ri had threatened her to lie, and she had no other choice but to present the false information to the public. A-ri’s business was greatly affected by the leaked (forged) pictures of her chats and Min-hye’s accusation. Her customers started to return the products, and the company suffered immense losses.
Did A-Ri Die? Who Was Behind The Live Stream?
Joon-kyung was A-ri’s only support, and tragically, he met with an accident. A-ri was gradually losing control of her entire existence. While Joon-kyung was being admitted to the hospital, A-ri found out that her best friend, Jeong-sun, was among the many hateful trolls speaking ill of her online. She trusted Jeong-sun with her life, and to learn that her best friend wanted her to suffer was simply unacceptable to her. Jeong-sun explained that she was envious of A-ri’s success and needed a place to vent. The moment she started to speak against A-ri, people started following her, and she felt important in her own little virtual world. Soon after learning about Joon-kyung’s accident, A-ri found out that Mr. Park committed suicide as a result of the extreme loss his factory had to bear. The world around A-ri was collapsing, and she started to question every decision she had recently taken. A-ri was completely broken, and one day, she drove her car into the river. Her body was not found, but she was pronounced dead by the police.
The internet was taken by storm when, after a few months, A-ri started a live stream. She returned to seek revenge on all those who had wronged her. She publicly discussed everything that had happened after she joined social media. From the drug party to the Gabin society, A-ri did not mince her words online. But if A-ri was dead, who was conducting the live stream? The police soon figured out A-ri’s location, but Joon-Kyung (after recovering from the accident) used his source to get to the location before the police or Tae-jeon’s men did. Upon entering the room, he found out that Jeong-sun and A-ri’s brother, Du-seong, were the ones recording the live stream. They wanted to bring justice to A-ri, and they used AI technology to transform Jeong-sun’s face to look like A-ri. All those accused by A-ri were finally arrested, and we also learn that Tae-jeon was behind Joon-kyung’s accident. It is soon revealed that A-ri had survived after driving the car into the river, and she waited to seek revenge. While her brother and best friend were busy with the live stream, she focused on finding out who was behind the BBBFamous account.
‘Celebrity’ Ending Explained: Who Was Running The BBBFamous Account?
A-ri found out that a young woman named Seon-yeong was running the account. She worked as a massage therapist, and her clientele included the Gabin Society. She always recorded scandalous conversations to use them to her advantage later on. When she was not working, she pretended to be a rich, spoiled girl. She even lied to her colleagues, telling them that she was not working for money but for the experience. Her entire existence was a lie, and she lived in a filthy apartment where her only solace was the desktop. As soon as she returned home from work, her focus shifted to destroying e-celebrities.
When A-ri confronted her at the massage salon, she exclaimed that she was tired of watching the influencers spend ludicrous amounts of money every day while she lived her poor life. She wanted to teach them a lesson and bring them down. The rags-to-riches story of A-ri made her hopeful, but when A-ri started to ignore her, she was triggered. Upon being confronted, Seon-yeong attempted to commit suicide. She survived the fall and was to be brought into custody as soon as she recovered. A-ri was shocked to learn about the various facets of being an e-celebrity. Throughout her journey, Shi-Hyeon was her constant support. She encouraged A-ri to make a comeback since her followers were desperately waiting for her online. But A-ri decided to leave the influencer life behind and start focusing on the real world. At the end of Celebrity, one of the cleaners takes an interest in A-ri’s pictures uploaded on her fan account. Will his interest turn into an obsession? Celebrity leaves scope for interpretation.
In Celebrity‘s ending, A-ri and Joon-kyung are reunited. Shi-Hyeon gathered the courage to divorce her notorious husband. She married him to please her family, but after getting to know how far Tae-jeon was willing to go to keep his image clean, she decided to prioritize her happiness over everyone else. With Joon-kyung making a deal with Tae-jeon’s lawyer, Ahn, Tae-jeon’s elaborate plans come to an end, and we can assume that he will go down. Oh Min-hye and her husband decided to elope in the last episode of Celebrity after all the lies and schemes that they were involved in are revealed. Yu-rang’s husband was arrested before he could flee the country, and Yu-rang was almost destroyed as a result. Angela’s husband found out that she traded her body for money through the livestream, and he asked her to leave the house. Chae-hee was arrested for her involvement in the drug party. The Gabin society is destroyed, and A-ri can finally begin living her life peacefully. We see Jun Ho make a cameo at the very end.
The ending of Celebrity can also be a hint towards the fact that A-ri might be coming back to the influencer lifestyle. Actors and other celebrities are often passively involved in the feuds of influencers by following and unfollowing them at the drop of a hat, according to the prevalent public narrative. Considering that A-ri’s image has received a clean slate, there will be a lot of sympathy and goodwill coming her way. Celebrities might also want to capitalize on that by bringing her offers and opportunities. Maybe Junho wants A-ri to design his clothes for an event, or maybe he wants to cast her in something—a reality show or a series. The cleaner’s obsession might not be enough to pull A-ri back into the online world, but an offer from a top actor would do the trick. Jun Ho’s cameo probably signifies that Celebrity can possibly return for another season with Jun Ho playing an important role.