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YouTuber and Single’s Inferno show contestant Song Ji A (also known as Free Zia) recently sat down for an exclusive tell-all interview with Korean news site Dispatch.
Song Ji A
Here, she touched on her past as a YouTuber, her contract with her company, what led her to own fake luxury goods, and the exact pieces in her collection which were real and fake.
According to Dispatch, Song Ji A’s popularity did not come overnight. When she was a sophomore at Hanyang University in 2017, she started working part-time as an online shopping site’s model. She modeled a variety of products and soon met actress Kang Ye Won. In August of 2018, the two signed a management contract and a year later, Song Ji A launched her YouTube channel where she uploaded two videos every week—a total of 237 videos.
Ye Won unnie and I made a promise. I promised her that I would upload two videos a week no matter what. At first, I didn’t get a lot of views. But I kept going anyway. For two years, I never broke that promise…then with Single’s Inferno, I gained a lot more attention overnight. I wanted to think of it as being rewarded for my two years of hard work.
— Song Ji A
Kang Ye Won and Song Ji A | @kangyewon0315/Instagram
When the issue of her owning imitation goods began gaining traction online, Ji A acknowledged her mistakes: “But now I’m labelled ‘fake.’ Of course, I brought that on myself. I don’t resent anyone else.”
To determine if her collection of clothes and accessories were genuine or not, Dispatch took them to the Korea Appraisal Institute of Luxury Goods where they verified the authenticity of each item.
Song Ji A showcased over 300 outfits in her 237 YouTube videos and 1,151 posts on Instagram. From shoes to bags and accessories, she wore over 500 items in total. Among these, around 20 of them have been deemed to be fake. One of these was a Medium Lady Dior bag which she used in her paid Instagram advertisement for their perfume.
That bag is a knock-off, indeed. I bought it six years ago (when I was 20) at one of those kiosks. I was out with my friends when I saw it. And it looked cute, so I bought it. I shouldn’t have worn it in the Dior perfume ad video…I honestly don’t know what I was thinking, I’m sorry.
— Song Ji A
The logo charm on the bag was purchased on the streets of Busan as well when she was 20 years old. Song Ji A apologized to the brand for knowingly including it in her paid advertisement despite it being fake.
I sincerely apologize to DIOR once again. I’m so sorry. I’m so ashamed of myself for not having known better.
— Song Ji A
Because this Lady Dior bag was featured in the background of one of her videos, she had it deleted. The Montcler Padded Jacket and Louis Vuitton Padded Jacket & Dress in the same vlog, however, were real.
Suspicion: The videos in which Song Ji A wore these items have been deleted. Did she delete them because the items are knock-offs, too? Fact: She had receipts for all purchases. She bought the Louis Vuitton outerwear on October 8, 2020 for ₩4.60 million KRW (about $3,800 USD) (Screenshot of receipt). She bought the Montcler outerwear on November 9, 2020 for ₩5.57 million KRW (about $4,600 USD). She bought the Louis Vuitton dress on August 18, 2020 for ₩3.00 million KRW (about $2,480 USD). She deleted the video because of the fake Lady Dior bag in the background.
Like the Lady Dior bag, Ji A’s Dior Oblique Saddle Bag did not come from official stores.
Suspicion: The embroidery seems to be completely different. The “i” is embroidered incorrectly. Fact: The bag is a knock-off. She received it as part of her modeling outfit, provided by the team of stylists for the shoot. She explained she didn’t look too much into the details.
Another article of clothing that netizens suspected to be fake due to its thinner-than-usual logo was the pink Chanel Logo Knit Top. As they guessed, it was verified to be a knock-off.
I bought it because it looked cute. I packed it to take with me to shoot Single’s Inferno, too. I didn’t know any better when I should have been aware of what knock-offs mean. I’ve been a fool, I have no excuses.
— Song Ji A
This was not the last imitation Chanel top that she wore. The Korea Appraisal Institute of Luxury Goods examined and confirmed a mint crop top and pink cardigan that she posted online were inauthentic.
Suspicion: The mint cropped top has been sold out and discontinued in France. The cardigan is slightly different in color and details like buttons and neckline. Fact: She bought the cropped top from an online shopping site (“because it looked cute”). She received the cardigan as a part of her outfit for the “A” brand advertisement video.
I knew the cropped top is a knock-off but I bought it anyway because it looked cute. But I really didn’t know the cardigan is a knock-off as well. I got it from one of the sellers listed on ‘A’ brand’s shopping platform, so I had no way of knowing for sure.
— Song Ji A
The Dior tube top she wore to Netflix‘s Single Inferno was another outfit determined to be fake. It was originally suspected for being so due to its unreleased design, and Ji A admitted that she had received it from the CEO of a shopping site that she used to model for.
In college, I worked part-time as a model for the shopping site. The site’s CEO sent the top to me as a gift. It’s “Dio” without the “r,” so I knew it’s a knock-off. This will probably make me sound really dumb, but that’s exactly why I figured it would be okay to wear this. I’m sorry.
— Song Ji A
Similarly, the Marine Serre Dress & Top that she wore were not officially released designs. She claimed to have been unaware that the name “Marine” was referring to the luxury brand when she bought it.
I was not aware of the Marine Serre brand at the time. Later on, when I checked the receipt, it said I bought a ‘Marine Half Neck Tee.’ I didn’t know the ‘Marine’ meant Marine Serre. I was so clueless.
— Song Ji A
Several imitation clothes of Ji A’s were bought online. A Saint Laurent and Alexander Wang set came with the wrong colored lining and skirt respectively. She bought the former from the site Fashion Nova. Though she made this clear in the video she featured it in and linked their website, she did not clarify this when the media reported on her wearing a “Saint Laurent dress.”
On the other hand, she received the Alexander Wang set from the team of stylists at Video Star and thus did not know whether the outfit was real or not. She commented, “I may have worn the skirt with the band folded in.”
Suspicion: The real Saint Laurent dress comes with red lining. Song Ji A’s dress has white lining. The Alexander Wang set comes with a skirt that has a distinct band. Fact: She bought the Saint Laurent knock-off from Fashion Nova.
At the same time, not every piece of clothing that she owned was fake. When asked if the sneakers she gifted to her parents were knock-offs as well, Ji A responded with, “Absolutely not.”
Suspicion: The details in the shoes Song Ji A bought are different from the Rivolis. Fact: She bought the pair at the Busan Centum location of the Shinsegye Department Store on July 31, 2020. (Receipt of purchase for ₩1.31 million KRW (about $1,080 USD))
The shoes are real Louis Vuitton. People keep saying it’s a limited edition only sold in France, but I don’t know what they mean. I bought those sneakers two years ago (in 2020) at the Centum location of the Shinsegye Department Store, but people have been telling me I couldn’t have…
— Song Ji A
She bought legitimate luxury goods from brands such as Chanel, Prada, and more as pictured below.
Song Ji A’s real luxury goods (according to the Korea Appraisal Institute of Luxury Goods)
The Chanel Classic Flap that was the center of attention among numerous curious netizens was determined to be genuine.
Suspicion: Did Song Ji A buy a knock-off and use it in an unboxing video? Fact: She bought it at the Busan Centum location of the Shinsegye Department Store.
The Chanel 19 hand bag that she posed with in a selfie was also real.
Suspicion: Song Ji A’s 19 handbag has a silver chain, compared to the real Chanel 19 handbag that comes with a gold chain. Fact: She bought it at the Busan Centum location of the Shinsegye Department Store on April 23, 2021. She paid for the bag with two separate credit cards. She has receipt for a total purchase of ₩6.40 million KRW (about $5,290 USD).
Likewise, the red BOY CHANEL and leather belt that were featured in the same video were not fakes. The video was deleted from her channel not because of their lack of authenticity but because she wore an imitation Van Cleef & Arpels necklace at the time.
Ji A bought the belt at a Chanel flagship store in Chungdam-dong, Seoul, on May 10, 2021
Moreover, the Rolex watch that she was criticized for due to it lacking a serial number was, in fact, authentic.
Suspicion: The serial number cannot be verified. Fact: She bought it at the Seoul Jamsil location of the Lotte Department Store on July 7, 2019. She paid in cash and with gift certificates. Korea Appraisal Institute of Luxury Goods says: It’s real (The warranty card is real as well). [Screenshots of the money withdrawn from Song Ji A’s bank account]Her white Chanel Fleece Scarf was another item that netizens incorrectly assumed was fake.
Suspicion: The logo is slightly different. The color of the lining is different. There was no Chanel tag either. Fact: JI A received it as a gift from a friend. According to her, the friend called her when people pointed it out as potentially being a knock-off. The friend claimed, “It is a real Chanel scarf that [she] bought at a department store.”The Chanel Gabrielle Hobo Bag was one that she had received as a gift and it was confirmed by the appraisal institute to be real.
Suspicion: The details like stitching and lining seem to be slightly different. Fact: She received it as a gift.
The last of the Chanel items that she owned and that were determined to be authentic were a beanie and set of earrings.
Suspicion: Do Chanel beanies come in poly bags? Fact: She bought it at the Busan Centum location of the Shinsegye Department Store on September 14, 2021. She also purchased earrings. She paid ₩3.00 million KRW (about $2,480 USD) for both and has the original receipt of purchase.
There were times when the brands or her company themselves lent the genuine clothes to Ji A for advertisements. Hyowon CNC, her agency, even had the receipt of the Dior outfit she wore and returned after the shoot.
Suspicion: The details are slightly different from the real version. Fact: She received the whole outfit for the Gucci brand ad video.
There were instances like these when she had no way of confirming the authenticity of the clothes she wore since they were provided to her by other people.
For photo shoots, the stylists for the brand prepare the outfits. I return all the items once the shoot is over. So I can’t really tell if the items are real or not. There’s no way for me to know.
— Song Ji A
Many times, Ji A owned genuine articles of clothing that netizens thought were fake due to misunderstandings such as with her Louis Vuitton Bikini Top. The official Louis Vuitton photo of her did not show a gold buckle on her top, causing netizens to claim it was a sign of forgery. In reality, the detail was actually situated on the back of the top. Dispatch added that “The details in the picture seem to be silver, but they are gold in real life.”
Suspicion: Song Ji A’s top is missing the gold detail which is shown in the official photograph on Louis Vuitton’s site. Fact: She bought it on June 14, 2021 (for ₩520,000 KRW (about $430 USD)). The gold buckle detail is actually on the backside of the bikini. The official photograph has caused a misunderstanding.
Her Louis Vuitton ring and bracelet were other items suspected of being imitations due to their seemingly different colors from the original. The Korea Appraisal Institute of Luxury Goods noted that they were, in fact, authentic.
Suspicion: The ring seems to be a Cartier knock-off. The bracelet seems to have a different color from the real Louis Vuitton Empreinte white gold bangle. Fact: She bought both at the Galleria Louis Vuitton on June 25, 2021 for ₩11.1 million KRW (about $9,190 USD) and has the original receipt of purchase.
At the end of the interview, Ji A apologized for misleading her audience. When asked why she did so, she replied that she “didn’t think too much of it.”
I should have known better. It’s all my fault. When people started thinking that my items are real luxury goods, I should have stepped up and admitted they’re knock-offs. But I didn’t think too much of it and believed, ‘It’s fine as long as it looks good on me.’ I was wrong. I have no excuses.
— Song Ji A
As for why she started wearing fake luxury goods in the first place, she admitted that she was drawn to how they “looked good” and how “people couldn’t tell” they were not genuine when she wore them. Despite knowing it was illegal, she did not take the opportunities presented to her to “step up” and own up to her mistakes which then caused her to regret her past actions.
Suspicion: The chain connects to the pendant in a different location. The pendant seems to be a different size. Fact: She admitted they are both knock-offs. The necklace had been given to her as a gift while the earrings have been purchased off an online shopping site as “Van Cleef Style Earrings.”
Some of them, I bought because they looked good. The Dior bag, I bought on the streets when I was 20 years old. Some of them came as gifts. I decided to wear the Van Cleef necklace because it looked pretty. Some of them I didn’t even know were knock-offs. But I really should have known better. I figured it might be okay since people liked the way it looked on me. I am the only one to blame for all of this. In fact, I had the opportunity to clarify that the Saint Laurent dress isn’t real…but I didn’t step up. I regret that a lot. I didn’t realize what a big deal it is because (even though I bought it off some website) people thought of it as a luxury dress and to be honest, I liked that people couldn’t tell when I wore it. I’m really sorry.
— Song Ji A
Song Ji A concluded that she’s currently taking a break from social media to “reflect on her actions.” She also dispelled the rumors that her relationship with Kang Ye Won, her CEO, has soured.
I’m taking this time to reflect on my actions. Ye Won unnie has been texting me everyday telling me that she loves me. I think she’s worried about me, especially since people are now attacking my family too…I’m going to take it all in, though. I’m going to get through this.
— Song Ji A
Starting January 2022, netizens began suspecting Song Ji A of wearing fake luxury goods. The situation escalated when she was accused of also passing off these knock-off items as legitimate in her YouTube haul videos and Instagram advertisements. On January 24, she uploaded a video of her apologizing for owning the knock-off items and misleading her audience.
Source: Dispatch and K-Royal
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