What could have been a well-meaning patriotic stance has turned into a shocking lesson for a 16-year-old who may not understand politics.
Chou Tzu-yu, a Taiwanese, is now embroiled in a controversy after she waved Taiwan's official flag on a recent online broadcast, earning the ire of Chinese online users, who insinuated that she had a sinister pro-Taiwan independence agenda.
Immediately after the backlash, the visibly weary teenager appeared in a Youtube video apologising for her actions. The video, published on Friday (Jan 15), has since been viewed nearly 3 million times.
Many Taiwanese have reacted unfavourably to the wrath of Chinese online users, with Taiwan's presidential candidates wading into the row, defending the young K-pop starlet.
Online users in Taiwan said that Chou's apology was produced under immense pressure, and it was tantamount to bullying and intimidation by China.
According to AFP, a Chinese TV channel had cancelled an upcoming show featuring Chou's K-pop band TWICE. Chinese smartphone manufacturer Huawei has also withdrawn advertisements featuring Chou in the South Korean market.
Who is this girl who has caused all this online chatter?
Here are seven facts about the 16-year-old K-pop starlet who has ruffled feathers in East Asia:
1) Chou was born in Tainan, Taiwan on June 14, 1999.
2) According to a fan page dedicated to Chou, the Taiwanese was talent scouted to Korea in Dec 2012 as a JYP Entertainment trainee after impressing a talent scout with her performance in an online video clip. JYP Entertainment is one of South Korea's largest record labels, and counts artists like Wonder Girls and 2AM in its stable.
3) The 16-year-old was recruited into K-pop band TWICE after surviving a reality show, Sixteen, created by JYP Entertainment and Mnet that premiered May 5, 2015, and ended on July 7, 2015.
4) Out of 16 contestants on the reality TV show, nine were chosen to form TWICE. The contestants came from five countries: Canada, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand. Chou placed 8th among the 16 contestants.
5) TWICE was initially meant to be a seven-member K-pop group. During the final episode of Sixteen, JYP Entertainment announced that TWICE will be a nine-member group. Chou was nearly eliminated from Sixteen, but survived thanks to votes from online audiences, thus inducting her as a member of TWICE.
6) Chou, together with her multi-national K-pop girl group, made its debut on Oct 20, 2015 with a mini-album The Story Begins.
7) Within two months after their debut, Chou's TWICE was awarded the Best New Female Artist at the 2015 Mnet Asian Music Awards, an annual major K-pop music awarding ceremony.
OTHER RELATED STORIES: