While K-pop usually has a squeaky clean image, with no cursing and innocent lyrics, not all songs fit into that mold. Here are eight K-pop songs that were, and some still are, considered controversial.
1. TVXQ – “Mirotic”
“Mirotic” was considered too sexual at the time of its release. Why? For the line, “I’ve got you under my skin.” The line was deemed too sexual for youth at the time, and SM Entertainment had to release a new music video with a changed lyrics, “I’ve got you under my sky.”
2. Teen Top – “No More Perfume On You”
The song sounds bright and bubbly, but it has problematic lyrics. The song talks about a boyfriend cheating on his lady with another girl! Some of the problematic lines include, “Don’t wear perfume, my girlfriend might find out. Don’t wear sparkly things, because it might get on my clothes.” The members themselves have agreed that the song itself is trash and that at the time of its release, they were all teenagers who had no idea what the lyrics meant.
3. CL – “MTBD”
“MTBD”, also known as “Mental Breakdown”, received backlash due to the vocals in the verses singing lines from the Quran. The backlash was so intense, the Korean-Muslim Federation issued a statement concerning the song, saying that Muslims find the song offensive and that they demand the artist to change the lyrics to something more appropriate. The company listened and changed the parts with the vocals.
4. BTS – “War of Hormone”
“War of Hormone” was released in 2014. Upon its release, fans immediately noticed the sexist and misogynistic lyrics. Some lines that caught people’s eyes include “Girls are like an equation, us guys just do them.” In 2015, Big Hit Entertainment apologized for the song’s sexist lyrics and BTS does not perform the song in any concerts.
5. IU – “Zezé”
The song received major flack for her 2015 song “Zezé”. Why? Listeners thought the lyrics of the song sexualized the five-year-old protagonist of “My Sweet Orange Time”, a popular Brazilian novel. The song was regarded as pedophilic and even received international attention.
6. SIX BOMB – “Becoming Pretty [Before &] After”
SIX BOMB themselves is already a controversial girl group. This song received backlash for its music video. The documentary-style music video highlighted the girls’ plastic surgery procedures, both before and after. Though the video was meant to be satirical, people saw it as glamorizing plastic surgery.
7. San E – “Feminist”
In 2018, San E released the controversial track “Feminist”, a song that was made to express his thoughts about feminism in South Korea. The track contained numerous problematic lines pertaining to the #MeToo movement, sexual harassment, and how man withstand reverse discrimination. It came off very anti-woman, to which he tried to clarify that it was not. However, the damage has been done, and he has been out of the limelight since.
8. BTS – “FAKE LOVE”
Released in 2018 and during the time BTS’s popularity in both the East and the West was skyrocketing, BTS came back with “FAKE LOVE”. As it was being played in the United States, radio stations started censoring the Korean word “niga” and “naega”, meaning “you” and “I” respectively. It was done so people would not confuse it with the n-word. However, as they continued to censor the song, fans argued that it only made it appear BTS was actually saying the racial slur when they were not.
Do you know other K-pop songs that are deemed controversial? Tell us in the comments!