From K-Pop to Korean commercials, these controversies span across all kinds of Korean media. Whether they’re creepy, confusing, or just downright odd, here’s a look at the top 10 most bizarre things that have gotten criticism this year.
1. “Seoul Milk” depicts women as cows in “misogynistic” commercial.
In the strange commercial, a man hides behind a rock to film women in nature who transform into cows. Netizens have compared the secret filming to molka (illegal filming), an ongoing problem in South Korea.
The severe backlash that followed came quickly, as thousands of comments were left directly under the video, as well as on different social media platforms and online communities discussing how the commercial is degrading to women on multiple levels.
2. Auction House & Designer try to auction BTS Jimin’s unwashed outfit.
Myart Auction received criticism for advertising Jimin‘s hanbok wore during BTS’s Gyeongbokgung Palace performance of “Idol” on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon as “unwashed.”
[Jimin’s outfit] was left unwashed after the performance and will be sold with Jimin’s body odor intact.
— Myart Auction, Maeil Business
ARMYs were disgusted and infuriated by the decision, labelling the move “invasive” and “highly unethical.“ Fans were concerned that this can encourage sasaeng behavior. In the end, the auction was cancelled.
I hope all of your current and potential future clients are made aware that you have no problem exploiting those who wear your designs and encouraging a celebrity culture that’s personally invasive by auctioning off their unwashed clothes without their permission.
3. Popcorn advertisement featuring shirtless model criticized for overt sexualization.
CGV’s popcorn advertisement backfired when their Facebook page was flooded with netizens accusing the company of objectifying men. Netizens pointed out that there was no need for a shirtless model to advertise popcorn.
Is this an ad for popcorn or for some sexual service? Why would anyone buy popcorn to pour it over himself while topless or to lie down on a bed of it?
— Korean netizen
In response to the criticism, CGV deleted the controversial picture and uploaded a new one, this time featuring the model fully clothed in a workman outfit.
4. Netizens angered with Former After School’s Nana for her overly long acceptance speech.
After winning an acting award under KBS‘s drama awards, Nana gave a speech for a total of 5 minutes and 20 seconds. This was compared to senior actors such as veteran Jo Yeo Jung who spoke for a little over a minute, or Jo Bo Ah who only spoke for 40 seconds.
Typically, people express their gratitude in their speeches, which might be confusing why it became a controversy. Nana uploaded a photo of her award with a caption addressing the issue, which only received more backlash from netizens.
This precious award that I didn’t know when I’d receive. All I intended for was to convey my gratitude without leaving a thing out. Was a simple and cool speech what people hoped for in an acceptance speech? I’m not someone who speaks well so. I can’t believe I have to be mindful of what others’ think about how long I give my speech for, on such a good day, while receiving such an important award. It feels weird. I hope there will be more people that can congratulate others if something good happens.
5. SM Entertainment’s “Dear U” uses a BTS TinyTAN character in its marketing.
During SM Entertainment’s initial public offering (IPO) conference, they discussed future plans to create content under its SM Culture Universe (SMCU) metaverse through NFTs.
While explaining the concept, an image was shown to promote the idea, and fans noticed BTS J-Hope‘s TinyTAN character.
Copyrighted by HYBE, many netizens voiced their confusion and annoyance at seeing SM Entertainment and Dear U using J-Hope’s character for their marketing.
6. MBC faces backlash for eliminating “My Teenage Girl” contestant twice.
During the voting round of the show’s second episode, contestants Park Hyo Rim and Yoo Jae Hyun only received 2 votes each from the judges, meaning they were eliminated.
However, when the results were revealed, the judges soon realized that the votes were incorrect and the results were different from what they had told the production team. This resulted in an emergency meeting between the program’s production team and the judges.
Following the meeting, the host of the program Yoon Kyun Sang stood on the stage to reveal that there had been a technical issue with the vote count, while apologizing for the mistake.
After revealing the correct results, Park Hyo Rim was the only contestant eliminated, forcing her to go through the pain of elimination twice.
One of the judges Ok Ju Hyun couldn’t help her tears as she commented on the cruelty, while apologizing for “hurting [her] twice.”
7. Running Man makes the cast play a dangerous game.
In the 576th episode which aired on October 24, 2021, the cast played a game where they attempted to coat the other person in a blue-colored powder using pads in their hands.
Though the objective of the game is only to place the powder, due to the speed of the game, some cast members’ movements caused them to hit their opponent’s face hard. Netizens criticized the game for being too dangerous.
8. CUBE Entertainment congratulates former (G)I-DLE’s Soojin on her birthday.
Because of her hiatus at the time, some netizens were angered by the fact that CUBE Entertainment acknowledged her birthday. However, others believe that since Soojin was still in the group at the time, CUBE Entertainment made the right choice by acknowledging her.
9. “Good Morning America” inappropriately names TWICE’s “The Feels” performance video.
Although TWICE rocked their GMA3 performance, fans noticed that the title the GMA3 staff gave the YouTube video was inappropriate and dismissive of TWICE’s achievements and contributions to K-Pop as a whole. The video was named “Special K-Pop performance,” which says absolutely nothing about TWICE or “The Feels” at all.
Fans posted in the YouTube comments and on Twitter to voice their disapproval of the lackluster title that discredits TWICE and K-Pop.
This title is so disrespectful to Twice 😐 No one would call an Ariana performance "Special American pop performance" why's it ok for a kpop artist?? pic.twitter.com/dytaCEg4GG
— danielᴺᴹ 🐯🎄 (@ygteumebox) October 8, 2021
10. China blatantly copies “Squid Game” in variety program “Squid’s Victory.”
According to Chinese media sources, there were plans for a variety program titled Squid’s Victory in 2022. Premiering on YOUKU, a Chinese video hosting service, the promotional poster of the upcoming show was recently revealed — but the font, the shapes, and the colors looked all too familiar.
In addition to that, just like the Korean series’ plot line, the Chinese variety program is also set to revolve around children’s games. The show will have contestants who will compete with one another in different challenges featuring numerous Chinese children’s game.