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‘Humiliating’ Korean K-Swiss Commercial Enrages Chinese Netizens, Fuels Anti-Korean Sentiment

A Korean commercial by American footwear company K-Swiss has recently sparked outrage on Chinese social media. The ad video depicts an alleged Chinese character in a way that is called “insulting” and “humiliating” to China. The controversy fuels anti-Korean sentiments amidst current China-South Korea tensions, negatively impacting the popularity and presence of Korean pop culture in the PRC.

Manya Koetse

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A Korean commercial by American footwear company K-Swiss has recently sparked outrage on Chinese social media. The ad video depicts an alleged Chinese character in a way that is called “insulting” and “humiliating” to China. The controversy fuels anti-Korean sentiments amidst China-South Korea tensions, negatively impacting the popularity and presence of Korean pop culture in the PRC.

On August 3, Sina News, along with several other Chinese media, reported that popular Korean actor Park Bo Gum (朴宝剑) appeared in a commercial that is “insulting to China”. The message states that it is unreasonable for Park “to make money in China” and then “humiliate Chinese people”.

Park Bo Gum is famous in mainland China, where Korean popular culture has been booming since the early 2000s. The major popularity of Korean pop culture in the PRC is also referred to as Hallyu, or “Korean Wave”.

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The K-Swiss commercial caused a storm of criticism on Chinese social media, where the Sina News post alone was already shared over 5700 times, liked 21,000 times, and receiving more than 19,500 comments within 48 hours after it was posted. Other accounts posting about the video also received thousands of comments, making the issue a trending topic on Sina Weibo, using hashtags like “Korean commercial vilifies The Great Wall [China]” (#韩国广告丑化万里长城#).

“He [Park] comes to China to fill his pockets and then ridicules us,” one of the top comments says. Other Weibo users say Park is “no longer a pop idol” in their eyes or in their country (“国家面前无偶像”), and call him “deceitful” and “no longer welcome in China”.

Controversial game of chess

The 50-second commercial for K-Swiss, an American apparel company, shows Park playing a the Go board game against an alleged Chinese rival named ‘The Great Wall’ (万里长城). Like chess, Go is a strategy board game in which the aim is to surround more territory than the opponent. The game originated from ancient China, and is considered one of the oldest and most refined Chinese strategy games.

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After showing how the ‘Chinese’ player makes a move and just when it is Park’s turn, the commercial shifts to a party scene where the two players are dancing on the chess board. Park, in his K-Swiss sneakers, is portrayed as a popular kid with smart moves, his opponent is somewhat clumsy, chubby, and unfashionable. Not only does he have bad dancing skills, he is also slapped by a woman on the dance floor – a move that is laughed about by Park.

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Back to the actual chess game, Park finally makes the winning move. As the Chinese name of his opponent [“Great Wall”] is clearly visible, the sound of a goat bleating is played and the commercial ends with a happy Park.

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Shutting out Korean stars due to THAAD

By now, the commercial has become highly controversial on Chinese social media, where a majority of netizens denounce it, finding it insulting and discriminatory to China. Many netizens argue that Park should no longer be welcomed in China after choosing to feature in this commercial. “It is not without reason that we’re shutting out Korean stars,” one netizen comments.

The netizen refers to the recent request made by the Chinese State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT) to China’s major broadcasting firms, asking them to ban South Korean celebrities from making appearances on television entertainment shows starting next month, The Korea Herald reports.

The request was preceded by a series of sudden cancellations of appearances by Korean stars in China; a Chinese fan meeting with Korean stars Kim Woo Bin and Bae Suzy was “abruptly postponed” earlier this week. The popular Korean actor Lee Jun-ki will not be able to attend the opening of his most recent movie in China due to “visa issues”, and scheduled PRC concerts by Korean bands such as Snuper and Wassup have also been canceled by Chinese organizers for “no specific reason”.

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The apparent crackdown on China’s “Korean wave” comes after Beijing’s vehement opposition to South Korea’s THAAD (Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense) deployment. Last July, South Korea and the US announced their final decision to deploy the THAAD system in the south against North Korea’s missile and nuclear threats. The plan has angered Chinese leaders, who see the system as a possible security threat to the PRC.

The opposition to THAAD has now spilled over into popular culture, and South Korean businesses fear it might further influence their trade relations to China.

The huge controversy over the K-Swiss commercial comes at a moment when China-South Korea relations are strained over THAAD. Fragments of the commercial on YouTube from January 2016 suggest that this commercial has been around for at least 7 months, which makes the timing for Chinese state media to put forward news about this ‘recent’ commercial more questionable.

The commercial has nevertheless fuelled anti-Korean sentiments, as Chinese netizens claim to be “furious”, taking the representation of the man called ‘Great Wall’ in the ad video as the way South-Koreans perceive Chinese. “It is not that we want to curse you Koreans, but you disrespect us and look down on China. Your commercial might say ‘Great Wall’, but it is actually directed against all of China. Even I don’t always think China is that harmonious, but when it comes to foreign countries, we need to be patriotic!”, one netizen writes.

While Weibo is overflowing with anti-Korean and China-loving comments, actor Park Bo Gum is quickly losing followers on his official Weibo account, where his latest fan post received thousands of angry comments over the past two days. “I always liked you so much,” one disappointed fan writes: “I never expected this from you.”

What’s on Weibo video blog about the recent controversy on the Korean K-Swiss commercial: discrimination of China?

– By Manya Koetse

©2016 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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Manya Koetse is the editor-in-chief of www.whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer and consultant (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends in China, with a focus on social media and digital developments, popular culture, and gender issues. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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1 Comment

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  1. Avatar

    justsomeguy69

    November 16, 2016 at 2:46 am

    LOL whiney chiney. Grow up, all of you. No one on the planet likes you, loud, rude, no manners at all, disgusting, spitting, shitting in public, destorying property including millenia-old monuments, committing fraud all day every day. When kids do not play well with others, they are excluded. What do you think the world will do with you? Permanently put you away. All of you

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China Celebs

Iconic Shanghai Singer Yao Lee Passes Away at the Age of 96

Yao Li, one of the seven great singing stars of Shanghai in the 1940s, has passed away.

Manya Koetse

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Chinese singer Yao Lee (姚莉), the ‘Queen of Mandarin pop,’ passed away on July 19 at the age of 96.

The singer, with her ‘Silvery Voice,’ was known as one of the seven great singing stars (“七大歌星”) of Shanghai of the 1940s.

For those who may not know her name, you might know her music – one of her iconic songs was used in the hit movie Crazy Rich Asians.

Yao’s most famous songs include “Rose, Rose, I Love You” (玫瑰玫瑰我爱你), “Meet Again” (重逢), and “Love That I Can’t Have” (得不到的爱情).

Yao, born in Shanghai in 1922, started singing at the age of 13. Her brother Yao Min was a popular music songwriter.

When popular music was banned under Mao in the 1950s, Hong Kong became a new center of the Mandarin music industry, and Yao continued her career there.

On Weibo, the hashtag Yao Lee Passes Away (#姚莉去世#) already received more than 200 million views at time of writing.

Many Chinese netizens post candles to mourn the death of the popular singer, some call her passing “the end of an era.”

“Shanghai of those years is really where it all started,” others say.

Listen to one of Yao’s songs below:

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. Please note that your comment below will need to be manually approved if you’re a first-time poster here.

©2019 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com

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China Comic & Games

“Darkest Day in the History of Animation”: Kyoto Animation Arson Attack Trending on Weibo

The devastating arson attack at Kyoto Animation has shocked Chinese anime fans.

Wendy Huang

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Chinese anime fans are mourning the shocking arson attack on the Kyoto Animation Studio.

An arson attack has left at least 33 people dead and dozens injured at the Kyoto Animation Studio. The attack, that occurred on the morning of July 18, has shocked anime fans in China.

Approximately 70 people were inside the three-story Kyoto building when multiple fires broke out around 10:30 in the morning (local time).

As reported by BBC, a 41-year-old suspect broke into the Kyoto Animation studio on Thursday morning and sprayed petrol before igniting it.

The man reportedly shouted ‘go die’ when bursting into the studio. The suspect was injured and taken to a hospital for treatment. The case is currently under investigation.

Image of suspect given out by Japanese media.

On Chinese social media, the Kyoto Animation Studio (also known as ‘KyoAni’) went trending on Thursday.

Many Chinese anime fans offered their prayers to those who lost lives or faced injury at the deadly attack and expressed anger at the arsonist. Others initiated the setup of donation channel to support the Kyoto Animation studio and the families of the victims.

On Weibo, popular literary blogger ‘Guo Maimai’ (@知书少年果麦麦) published a long post about the Kyoto Animation’s work as an independent studio, commenting: “This is the darkest day in the history of animation.”

He further added: “The gravest consequence of this fire is not the loss of the original works or the building, but the loss of the talents who have been trained for such a long time.” 

At time of writing, the post was reposted nearly 60,000 times, receiving over 7000 comments. The hashtag “Darkest Day in Japan’s Animation” (#日本动画最黑暗的一天#) also took off afterward.

Chinese cartoonist ‘Feizhaizhi’ (@我是肥志, 2.66 million followers) wrote: “All the original works have been destroyed! All their efforts, their dreams, and now even their lives are gone!”

To express his grief, the cartoonist changed his Weibo profile into a gray one.

Bilibili, China’s leading online platform to distribute Japanese anime, also changed its anime website to grey.

The Kyoto Animation company was established in 1981 and has produced anime ever since (‘anime’ refers to a style of Japanese film and television animation typically targeted at adults as well as kids).

KyoAni’s high-quality animations, including TV series and films, are known for often featuring highschool girls and becoming big hits.

From ‘The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya,’ Kyoto Animation

Japanese comics and animations have been hugely popular in China since the 1990s. Even today, Japanese productions are usually more popular among Chinese anime fans than domestically produced works (read more).

Despite the outpouring of support for the Kyoto Animation studio, some Weibo netizens did not show sympathy and made anti-Japanese comments in light of the history of the Sino-Japanese war.

Others, however, would not accept such comments in these tragic times, writing: “Kyoto Animation has been such a good companion during our childhood..Why can’t we support the companion of our childhood?”

Another person wrote: “I will never forget the history, just like I will never forget the memories of my childhood created by Kyodo Animation.”

By Wendy Huang

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. Please note that your comment below will need to be manually approved if you’re a first-time poster here.

©2019 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com

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