Mini Internet celebrity

Mini Internet celebrity
Pre-schooler Kim Ye Bin (above), four, became an Internet sensation because of a viral video in which her mother teaches her to say no to strangers.
PHOTO: The New Paper

When South Korean Internet sensation Kim Ye Bin, four, arrived at Changi Airport on Sunday morning, a surprise awaited her family.

About 30 fans had gathered to welcome her. Her mother, housewife Jang Hye Jeong, 26, says: "We thought the fans were here for the Korean celebrities. They were saying hi to Ye Bin. She even got a huge lollipop as a gift."

The celebrities she was referring to were K-pop groups Sistar and Got7, who were on the same flight as the family.

While the K-pop stars were here for the three-day Korean culture festival SGKstar 2015, Ye Bin and her family were here to attend the inaugural social media awards show Influence Asia 2015. The toddler presented the Top Parenting Influencer award at Monday's event.

This is Ye Bin's first overseas appearance. She was invited to appear at the awards show by the organisers, South Korea-based digital marketing company Yello Digital Marketing Group and local social marketing agency Gushcloud.

Ye Bin became famous thanks to a viral video last year in which her mother teaches her to say no to strangers.

In the hit Stranger Danger video, her mother pretends to be a stranger offering Ye Bin ice cream and cookies. The doe-eyed toddler cannot resist the treats and quips in Korean: "I'd like it!"

The video has garnered more than 1.4 million views on Ye Bin's YouTube channel Lil Yebin, which has more than 110,000 subscribers. Her Facebook page Baby Yebin has more than 860,000 followers and her Instagram account (@wowha hahohoho) has more than 390,000 followers.

Her fame has led to a global fanbase and endorsement deals for food items, a water park and movies in South Korea. Representatives from Social Market Creator, a Seoul-based firm that manages social media stars, declined to reveal her rates or earnings, due to business confidentiality. The social media agency negotiates endorsement deals on her behalf.

On the possible dangers of exposing Ye Bin at such a young age on the Internet, her father, Kim Ji Young, 25, admits it is a worry. But he adds: "Ye Bin does receive a lot of love, that's one of the motivations that keeps us sharing our everyday life. Besides, Korea is pretty safe."

In any case, Ye Bin has finally learnt the correct method of dealing with strangers.

When The Straits Times asked her what she would do if a stranger offers her snacks, she screamed at the top of her lungs: "No!"

The toddler was a bundle of energy throughout the interview in the hotel room, where her nine- month-old brother, Dobin, slept soundly in a pram. In between snacking, she was running around the room and bouncing on the bed. She even fed this reporter and the photographer chocolates.

The pre-schooler says that her favourite cartoon character is Queen Elsa from the Disney animated film Frozen (2013). She prefers the cooler weather back home in wintry Korea.

Her parents say she has a bit of both their personalities.

Kim, a production manager in the car industry, says: "Her openness comes from her mother and her playfulness comes from me."

On whether Ye Bin will eventually enter show business, her mother says: "If the opportunity comes and Ye Bin is okay with it, we are open to it."

But her father adds: "She's too young. We want her to enjoy her childhood."

And what does Ye Bin want to be when she grows up? "I want to be a mummy," she says.


This article was first published on Dec 9, 2015.
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