Most people only celebrate one new year which is the one associated with the solar calendar. Certain cultures, on the other hand, also celebrate another new year, one associated with the lunar calendar. This year, the Lunar New Year happened on Monday, February 8. Usually, it is celebrated in East Asian countries, but it is a bigger deal in the People’s Republic of China (mainland) and the Republic of China (Taiwan) given its association with their Chinese Zodiac.
Also, every Lunar New Year is associated with a sign. For 2016, the Monkey – the ninth animal in the 12-year cycle of the Chinese zodiac – is honored. Many celebrities, specifically ones in East Asian regions, have already come forward, mostly through their official social media accounts, to wish a happy lunar new year. One particular celebrity, Taeyang, is getting a lot more attention than others because he apparently gave his well-wishes in an extremely racist fashion.
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From those who do not know, Taeyang – well-known as a member of popular K-pop idol group BIGBANG – took to his official Instagram account posting a video to his followers wishing them a “Happy Monkey New Year.” The controversy comes in when Taeyang used a facial simulator app to make himself look like Kanye West. The result of Taeyang’s actions are shown in the video below.
For those who do not see the issue, there is a derogatory association between Black people and monkeys. Taeyang probably did not know about said negative association, thinking what he did was innocent fun. Still, many international fans in the K-pop community cited that Taeyang should have been aware of his actions simply because he is an international star. According to KpopStarz, Taeyang deleted the video and uploaded another in which he issued an apology. Taeyang did use the facial simulator app again this time to look like fellow BIGBANG member T.O.P.
“I read all the comments and I am very sorry to anyone who had bad feelings about the last post which is now deleted. I didn’t know some people would think that way but it is totally my fault and I take responsibility. I did not mean it that way and I hope you guys understand that. I’m sorry again and I will never make this kind of mistake again. I hope you guys will forgive me.”
The issue of racism towards black people in the K-pop industry has always been around ever since the Hallyu Wave took to effect after the turn of the new century. K-pop music often follows the American music industry, getting queues on what to follow simply because it is popular. With that in mind, if a certain music genre is really popular in the American music industry, K-pop will not just utilize the music, but its fashion, style, and attitude, associated with it. This dangerously veers K-pop to crossing line in their cultural appropriation.
The issue mentioned above is made worse over the fact the K-pop industry is trying to push itself as a viable competitor to other prominent music industries especially the American and European music industries. If K-pop truly wants to be a contender, its industry should recognize sensitive issues pertaining to the international market. Race is surely one of those issues, especially in today’s politically correct sphere.
[Image via Screen Capture Of BIGBANG’s Music Video “Bang Bang Bang”]