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K-pop’s Blackpink slammed over panda ‘mishandling’ in newest line of S.Korea-China netizen clash

Wed 11 Nov 2020    
| 2 min read

A reality TV episode showing K-pop girl band BLACKPINK holding a newly born panda was pulled after accusations in China that the group mishandled a national treasure, becomes the latest row between South Korea’s entertainment stars and audiences from its neighbour.

Last month, South Korean boyband BTS was heavily criticised in China after its leader made remarks about the Korean War, and some BTS-related products were removed from Chinese websites.

Another backlash featured the American video-game developers Riot Games and their world renowned game League of Legends, wherein the company chose Chinese singer Lexie Liu as the voice for their new champion Seraphine in their virtual girl group K/DA’s latest release More. The move sparked backlash from the South Korean fans who accused China of attempting to encroach on K-pop territory as the group already features two artists from the Korean girl group (G)I-dle.

The BLACKPINK’s controversy arose after Fu Bao, the first panda to be born in South Korea was introduced to the public last week under China’s initiative of “panda diplomacy.” The members were aired holding the baby panda in a teaser clip released on YouTube earlier this month.

Some Chinese local media and online commentators denounced the girl group for touching Fu Bao with bare hands and while wearing too much make-up, saying it threatened the health of the young cub. The comments set off a storm on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter.

As of Tuesday, there were millions of views and 55,000 posts on hashtag “Blackpink touched panda cub wrongly” on Weibo.

The full episode was to have been broadcast on Nov 7 and has been postponed, according to the group’s music label, YG Entertainment, although it defended the production.

“When BLACKPINK met the baby panda, all members wore hygiene gloves, masks and protective clothing … hands and shoes were disinfected at every transition,” the agency said in a statement.

Hashtags “BLACKPINK” and “Panda” were trending on South Korean Twitter as well over the weekend. Some South Korean social media users pushed back at the Chinese criticism, urging South Korea to “return the pandas” or arguing that “pandas are not ours and it is too expensive to raise them anyway”.