Chinese social media users flooded the comment sections of Korean celebrities wishing their fans good luck, using the phrase “Lunar New Year” instead of “Chinese New Year.”
On Sunday, IVE’s K-pop star Jang Won-young posted a picture of himself wearing a hanbok on Instagram with the caption “Have a happy Lunar New Year,” using the Korean word for lunar new year“Seollal,” in her post.
Chinese commentators were quick to bombard the post with criticism of her use of “Seollal” instead of “Chinese New Year” and even accused Jang of cultural appropriation.
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“Please, Koreans, stop your cultural appropriation. Chinese New Year is Chinese and there is no doubt about it,” one user wrote.
South Korean rapper CL and Girls’ Generation member Seohyun also received backlash for creating similar Instagram posts on Sunday.
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Chinese fans left negative messages and emoticons on CL and Seohyun’s posts, with some users even writing detailed comments on the Chinese New Year story.
Conversely, some celebrities who used the term “Chinese New Year” drew criticism from South Korean commentators.
On Thursday, NewJeans members Danielle and Hanni both sent messages to their fans on Telefonieren, a fan communication platform. While Hanni used the term “Lunar New Year,” Danielle’s message read, “What are Ru Bunnies doing for Chinese New Year?”
Chinese fans criticized Hanni for her phrasing, while South Korean fans expressed disappointment with Danielle’s choice of words.
On Saturday, Danielle posted the following apology on the New jeans Instagram page:
This is Danielle from NewJeans.
Last Thursday, January 19th, I sent the message, “What are the bunnies doing for Chinese New Year?” on phone calls. I realized my mistake and deleted it immediately, but many people have already received the message and it was too late to take it back.
Lunar New Year is a holiday celebrated by many countries and regions, including our country [Korea], celebrate, so my statement was inappropriate and I deeply regret it. I also want to apologize to the Bunnies and many others who were disappointed or hurt by my words.
I will not forget this incident and will work on being more careful with my words and actions in the future.
Again, I’m sorry.
Danielle, the 17-year-old member of the Korean girl group that formed last year, was born in New South Wales, Australia. She holds dual citizenship in South Korea and Australia.