In the Philippines, K-pop lovers unite against beauty queen who accused them of 'losing their identity'

Imelda Schweighart was crowned Miss Earth Philippines 2016.
PHOTO: Screengrab/Instagram/imahartiesofficial

Days after a former Philippine beauty queen slammed the entire country’s K-pop fans for 'losing their identity', Imelda Schweighart has doubled down on her tirade even as the fandom has united against her attack.

'I hate K-pop,' the German-Filipino model declared this week in a Facebook post that has since been deleted. 'Filipinos are losing their identity trying to be like Koreans. Can we have some pride, please?'

The Miss Earth Philippines 2016 winner also said: 'I’m not sure if anyone can identify with (K-pop stars) but if anyone could, it’s imagining what you could look like after heavy plastic surgery. Insecurity is what they sell. They are not promoting self-love.'

Her opinions sparked a torrent of criticism, including by Francis Baraan IV, an entrepreneur and rights activist.

'Dear Imelda Schweighart, just [because] Pinoys love K-pop, doesn’t mean they’re already losing their identity,' he said in a Twitter post that attracted over 9,000 likes.

Baraan added that her claims made her look like a 'xenophobic, elitist snob'.

'Imelda: Filipinos are losing their identity trying to be like Koreans. Imelda: sings in English language,'one user said on YouTube.

Detractors also accused the 22-year-old model of being hypocritical. She had earlier praised Western culture, saying its 'influence is top notch and we are under them up to this day'.

The comment earned a harsh rebuke from Hong Kong-Philippine actor Richard Juan, who called out her double standards and asked her to celebrate the fact that Asians were making a name for themselves on the global stage.

On Tuesday (Nov 24), Schweighart threatened to sue her critics.

'I’m filing a case against every single person who has been messaging me under RA 10175 Cybercrime Law for Online Harassment, Invasion of Privacy, cyberstalking and defamation of character,' the model said on Instagram, adding she had been listing names after consulting her lawyer.

As the backlash continued, some dismissed the musical taste of Schweighart, a budding singer who recently released a single.

On its YouTube page, K-pop fans flooded the comments section with thousands of song lyrics by their favourite Korean artists.

Meanwhile, others have highlighted the positive impact of Filipino K-pop fans on society, such as their fundraising efforts during the country’s typhoon season.

Philippine Vice-President Leni Robredo was among those who recently thanked fans of Blackpink and South Korean singer Bang Ye-dam of Treasure for their aid relief efforts.

'Super touching that these K-pop fans are doing their share through our office’s relief efforts for typhoon victims,' Robredo said on Twitter.

Schweighart is not new to controversies.

In 2016, she renounced her crown from the Miss Earth Organisation after alleging that the eventual Miss Earth 2016 winner Katherine Espin from Ecuador had done cosmetic surgery, and also comparing Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to Adolf Hitler.

This article was first published in South China Morning Post.