On the Korean National Liberation Day, BTS member Jimin became a subject of controversy for wearing what at first seemed like a stylish back-printed graphic tee showing pride for Korea’s independence.
A closer look at this shirt reveals that there are repeated rows of the text “patriotism our history liberation Korea”, and a picture of an atomic bomb’s mushroom cloud depicting the nuclear bombing of two Japanese cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
What angered the public was that the graphic could be interpreted as the glorification of a devastating bombing that took the lives of hundreds of thousands of Japanese soldiers and innocent civilians of both Japan and Korea.
Subsequently, Jimin received severe international backlash with articles reporting on the controversy appearing on billboard.com. BTS’ appearance on Japan TV Asahi’s music station program was canceled.
The designer of the controversial shirt that Jimin wore spoke up about the situation, stating that he was very shocked and apologetic to BTS as there was never any intention to make a mockery out of Japan.
As for BigHit Entertainment, the company released an official statement that acknowledges, explains, and apologizes for the situation.
The next time a public figure wears something related to history, they might want to double-check for any problematic graphics.
Pritz’s Nazi armbands
It is quite unfortunate that the first major headline featuring the four-member girl group Pritz was not for their music but for their scandal.
Appearing in public for an outdoor performance, the girls appeared in black frilly dresses and red armbands that have an uncanny resemblance to the swastika symbol used by the German Nazi Party which, obviously, caused an internet uproar.
Pritz’s managing agency, Pandagram, responded that they never had any intention for the armband to resemble the Nazi’s swastika symbol.
They went on to explain how the design and color scheme of the armband was meant to resemble a speed-limit traffic sign with arrows to signify the group’s desire to expand without limitations.
The company then promptly concluded that the armband will not be modified as that would defeat its role as a symbol of willpower and ambition.
However, netizens were not satisfied with Pandagram’s rationale. If anything, they were angrier.
Both the agency and the group were criticized for their lack of common knowledge, while others believed that this was just a big publicity stunt to raise Pritz’s profile through a ‘pathetic’ and ‘disgusting’ method.
Bobby’s erotic hoodie
iKON’s Bobby once received strong adverse reactions for an outfit he wore at the Incheon International Airport in 2017.
As pictures of him waiting to board his flight circulated online, netizens noticed that his white hoodie seemed to have a sexually suggestive picture printed on it.
Indeed, the item belongs to a collection inspired by erotic Japanese comics as the result of a collaboration between two Chinese brands, Sankuanz and Myge.
People have voiced their disappointment as Bobby, who is an idol and has underage fans, wore such an outfit in public and left a bad taste for both fans and non-fans alike.
An article condemning the inappropriateness of this outfit was released on the big Korean news site ‘Nate’ without a picture of Bobby wearing the white hoodie in question.
Some readers have caught on that the actual picture was so disturbing that the journalist chose not to include it because it was ‘really something’.
Girl’s Day’s so-called diapers
The second quarter of 2011 would have marked Girl’s Day’s one-year debut anniversary, but before this joyous occasion could happen, the group was already under all the limelight for their controversial outfits.
Performing their latest release at the time “Twinkle Twinkle”, the girls earned frowns for wearing revealing ruffly white briefs underneath short yellow and white mini skirts in an event.
Many observers commented that the girls looked like they were wearing diapers, hence the nickname “diaper” or “lingerie” fashion for their outfits by the media.
As if the clothing coordination wasn’t bad enough, the public was also angered that some of the girls were still underage, such as youngest member Hyeri who was only sixteen at the time.
Comments such as “whoever made that as a stage costume is disturbing” and “how can the agency allow them to wear such inappropriate clothes” can be seen repeatedly across different platforms on the Internet.
The outrage was so bad that members of Girl’s Day had to speak up that “the briefs may have been mistaken for diapers or lingeries because of the ruffle decorations”, promising to be careful to fix their costumes in the future.
Although the girls were commendable for their sharp-witted response, these outfits have definitely left a mark as one of the darker days in Girl’s Day’s career.
Jennie’s nurse costume
Lovesick Girls would have been a perfect MV had it not for the nurse costume that Jennie wore in one particular scene.
The outfit sparked outrage in the Korean public as viewers deemed it to be sexualizing nurses, especially amid the covid-19 pandemic situation, where health workers are supposed to receive more respect.
Jennie’s costume was actually a straightforward take on the song’s lyrics, “no doctor could help when I’m lovesick”.
As no ill intent was meant, opinions saying the nurse outfit was offensive, over the top and unrealistic have caught both fans and YG Entertainment by surprise.
Some netizens even participated in the hashtag campaigns ‘stop sexualizing nurses’ and ‘a nurse is not a costume’ to express their distaste and spread awareness, and many have said that they work in the profession themselves.
The controversy surrounding Jennie’s outfit got so big that it elicited a response from the Korean Health and Medical Workers’ Union.
After explaining how pop culture has always distorted the image of nurses, the Union urged YG Entertainment to take responsible action that matches BLACKPINK’s popularity and influence.
The scene with Jennie in a nurse outfit was eventually edited out to appease the public and ensure that no viewers are offended when watching the video.
Cultural appropriation outfits
Jihyo’s Native American costume
Back in 2018, Jihyo had upset netizens for a costume she wore at Twice’s Halloween fan meeting event.
While the other members were wearing completely appropriate costumes for the theme of the event such as the Red Queen from Alice in Wonderland or the stylish but wicked Cruella de Vil, Jihyo’s outfit was heavily debated as it strongly resembles the stereotypical portrayal of a Native American.
While greeting fans as “Indian Jihyo”, she excitedly shared that she came up with the costume idea herself due to the tanned skin she previously had.
Jihyo’s costume is seen as a grave offense to the Native American culture as the clothing which reflected their history of oppression was treated as a mere aesthetic.
Fans have started an email campaign directed at JYP Entertainment to ask for a formal explanation and apology but to no avail to this day.
No matter what direction Jihyo and her stylist agreed upon in the ideation of this costume, the strong public backlash would have definitely served as a lesson in culture for them.
Momoland’s so-called traditional costumes
In their 2018 music video “Baam”, Momoland became the subject of criticism for their global concept.
The video presents viewers with a salad bowl of different cultures while the girls wore Halloween costumes to portray the various cultures.
Despite Momoland’s attempt to pay homage to their international fans, viewers were frustrated and angry that the comeback lacked research and cultural awareness.
The Egyptian costume, for example, is somehow paired with an elaborative Aladdin lamp, while the real ancient Egyptian oil lamps were usually made of clay and much less ornate.
Another Momoland member’s costume which was made to resemble an Egyptian mummy has deemed a mockery of the sacred Egyptian rituals.
And that’s just a small portion of the public outrage because the bulk of them was actually directed at Momoland’s attempt to feature the Mexican culture.
The sombrero hat and thick mustache were indeed (stereotypically) Mexican, but how much did the outfit coordinators not care when they pair those with a West African dashiki?
To conclude, for the most part, the public is outraged that Momoland’s outfits in the video are problematic and can cause viewers to have misconceptions about real cultures.
Outfits with shocking slogans
Tzuyu’s tank top
Twice and G-Friend would have had a successful collaborative stage on Inkigayo back in 2016 had it not been for the shirt donned by Tzuyu.
Netizens noticed that the phrase “Hoes take off your clothes” was written on Tzuyu’s tank top, thus the girl practically appeared on national television while showing the unfiltered profanity.
It was even more inappropriate as Tzuyu was underage at the time.
Luckily, rather than being the brunt of the hate, Tzuyu was defended by netizens who instead expressed anger towards whoever made her put on such an unsightly piece of clothing.
Whether this incident happened because the staff didn’t understand the meaning of what was written on the shirt or otherwise, JYP Entertainment issued a public apology for their carelessness and promised extra attention to their artists’ outfits in the future.
So, which of the outfits on the list do you think is the most controversial? Leave a comment down below to share your thoughts with us.
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