Chinese netizens are quick to voice their displeasure at K-pop stars who they feel have crossed the line!!
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Girl group Blackpink caused outrage among Chinese netizens this month when the members were seen playing with pandas in a trailer for their new web series, making them the latest in a series of K-pop stars landing in hot water in China.
Celebrities often encounter sociopolitical snags when promoting content internationally, but K-pop stars have faced increasing scrutiny in China since Seoul and Washington agreed to install the THAAD missile defence system in South Korea in 2016.
Chinese netizens have expressed their displeasure about everything from Tweets to comments on TV shows.
Here’s a rundown of some recent instances of K-pop stars causing controversy in China.
Blackpink’s panda problem
All pandas, including those born outside China and those loaned to foreign zoos, technically remain the property of China, so the footage showing Blackpink members handling them with their bare hands, seemingly without observing safety precautions, caused an intense backlash.
Although the group’s management company YG Entertainment claimed that safety precautions had been observed, it issued a statement saying the episode would not be released due to concerns over non-professionals having close contact with baby pandas.
RM’s Korean war speech
While RM spoke of the long alliance of the US and South Korea, and did not even mention China or its support of North Korea during the war, the rapper’s speech turned into an international incident.
Ultimately, the Chinese media article that sparked the backlash was deleted, and the drama appears to have mostly died down.
Choi Siwon of Super Junior ‘liked’ a tweet supporting the Hong Kong protests and kicked up a storm in China. Photo: SM Entertainment
Siwon and the Hong Kong protests
K-pop stars who even appeared to take a side in Hong Kong’s protests have faced a backlash. Choi Si-won (aka Siwon) of Super Junior came under fire late last year in China for “liking” a tweet made in support of the pro-democracy protesters. He ultimately “unliked” the tweet and issued an apology to his 16 million followers on Weibo.
Comparatively, there has been a backlash in South Korea against China-based stars such as Lay Zhang Yixing and Jackson Wang, who expressed support for Hong Kong being a part of Greater China. Zhang even cancelled a contract with South Korean tech company Samsung after the brand was accused of not recognising the one-China policy.
Even before the controversy over THAAD, K-pop girl group Twice came to the attention of many in China in 2015 after then-16-year-old member Tzuyu (Chou Tzu-yu), who hails from Taiwan, was seen waving a Taiwanese flag during a TV show. Criticised for not using the Chinese flag, she ultimately issued an apology.
The flag fiasco occurred ahead of the election of now-president Tsai Ing-wen, and it is believed that she was elected in part because of the backlash against Tzuyu in China.
Park Bo-gum’s K-Swiss ad
A 2016 ad for the brand K-Swiss also landed singer-actor Park Bo-gum in a momentary scuffle with Chinese netizens. Many felt the ad mocked China by showing Park competing against a competitor dubbed “Great Wall of China”, who not only apparently loses to Park in a dance-off and a game of Go, but is also smacked across the face at one point.
Lee Hyori’s Mao suggestion
Lee Hyori enraged Chinese viewers when she suggested Mao as a nickname. Photo: @my_singer_hyolee/Instagram
Another incident this year saw singer-television personality Lee Hyori accused of “belittling” late Chinese leader Mao Zedong by suggesting “Mao” as a temporary stage name. Many Chinese viewers, felt it was an inappropriate suggestion, while many Koreans countered that Mao was a popular Chinese last name.
The clip was ultimately edited out of the show, Hangout with Yoo, and the show issued an apology on social media. Lee ultimately chose the nickname “Chun Ok” while performing with the Refund Sisters, a short-term group formed through the television show.