Bye, K-pop idols, it's China first

Bye, K-pop idols, it's China first

In China's latest burst of nationalism, it's all about putting the nation before South South Korean idols.

On Thursday, during a National Security Council meeting in Seoul, South Korean President Park Geun Hye reiterated her support to deploy the US anti-missile defence system, Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD), explaining that the deployment was "inevitable" due to a growing threat from North Korea.

According to Chinese media, she also reportedly cancelled a South Korea-China summit meeting, sending a clear message to the world that she is sticking by THAAD despite strong opposition from China, Korea's biggest trading partner.

The news instantly sparked an online furore on Chinese microblogging platform Sina Weibo.

Angry Chinese netizens are advocating a boycott of Korean pop stars like boy bands BigBang, EXO, iKon, as well as actors such as Song Joong Ki, Lee Jong Suk and Park Shin Hye as a form of mass protest.

Some netizens have also unfollowed their favourite Korean artists' Weibo accounts.


Others posted emotional messages like "Farewell my oppas (Korean for big brothers), farewell (Korean variety show) Running Man and Lee Kwang Soo", "I think I cannot love you any more BigBang", and "G-Dragon, T.O.P, let's split up for a while".

One EXO fan expressed worry for the group's sole Chinese member Lay.

She said that Lay, whose real name is Zhang Yixing, is based in Seoul and "will be caught up in the middle of South Korean populism".

"If things don't go well there, please come home," she urged him.

BigBang Gallery, a BigBang fan community page on Weibo, said it will stop posting new material.

A post on the page read: "No idols before country. We love BigBang, but our administrator is an even bigger and crazier fan of China."

"No idols before country", a phrase that conveyed Chinese netizens' sentiment that there is no place for idolisation of Korean artists when it comes to patriotic love, became a trending hashtag on Weibo on Thursday night.

As of press time, no Korean or Chinese celebrity has publicly commented on their country's position on THAAD.

What's THAAD all about

THAAD, or Terminal High Altitude Area Defence, is an anti-missile defence system designed to intercept nuclear-armed North Korea's ballistic missiles in outer space or at high altitudes.

The project has strengthened bilateral relations between South Korea and the US.

China is vehemently against THAAD as Beijing views the technology as not just a defence against North Korean aggression, but an attempt to embed US military might in the heart of East Asia.

On Tuesday, Pyongyang test-fired three ballistic missiles as potential strikes against South Korean ports and airfields, according to a North Korean television announcement.

Last week, protesters in Seongju (the county where THAAD will be installed by the end of next year) pelted South Korean Prime Minister Hwang Kyo Ahn with eggs and water bottles, demanding a retraction of THAAD's deployment.

On Thursday, more than 2,000 people bearing South Korean flags and anti-THAAD banners held a rally in Seoul to demonstrate against South Korean President Park Geun Hye's stance on THAAD. Among them was the governor of Seongju, who shaved his head as an act of protest.

This article was first published on July 23, 2016.
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