GFriends’s Sowon: Why is there a backlash against the K-Pop star?

Fans of South Korean pop group GFriend are furious over an image posted on Instagram by Sowon
Fans of South Korean pop group GFriend are furious over an image posted on Instagram by Sowon
Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

Sowon, leader of the popular K-Pop group GFriend, has been trending on social media for less than savoury reasons.

Fans are expressing their disgust after the 25-year-old star posted images on social media showing her posing next to a Nazi mannequin.

The singer, whose name is Kim So-Jung, quickly deleted the images – but not before sending them out to her more than 800,000 followers.

Did this happen in a museum?

While some initially speculated that the pictures had been taken in a museum, fans traced the location to a cafe in Seoul where the group filmed their Walpurgis Night album showcase.

But this detail made little dent in the backlash.

Suggestions that GFriend’s production company, Source Music, were to blame for having put the props there during the shoot also appeared to be misplaced.

Images on social media showed the Nazi mannequin had been part of the decor for some time at Cafe Zino, a popular backdrop for those shooting South Korean drama series.

However, many still questioned why the cafe was deemed a suitable location.

Meanwhile, the singer is yet to directly address the controversy despite fans’ demands for an apology.

“Sowon, please, I’m begging, officially apologise for those pictures,” another fan wrote on Twitter. “You have Jewish fans, you have black fans, we love you and we need an answer. Deleting the photo is not enough. I love you, I hope you understand.”

Did Sowon realise the mannequin was wearing a Nazi uniform?

Some fans defended the singer, suggesting that she hadn’t realised the mannequin was dressed like a Nazi.

But many found this to be a poor excuse.

And others said it was offensive to suggest that South Koreans wouldn’t be aware of the Nazis, given the atrocities committed by Nazi-allied Japan during its occupation of Korea in the Second World War – which including forcing women into sexual slavery as “comfort women” for Japanese soldiers and subjecting Koreans to military experiments.

Furthermore, footage from one of the group’s livestreams on VLive emerged, in which bandmate SinB said she had Sowon’s number saved on her phone as “Kitler”. She did not expand on the reasons why.

The episode led to calls for an apology from the whole of the group.

On Monday, Source Music issued a statement, in which they attributed the error to a staff member having failed to notice the uniform.

The business said that Sowon “was also very surprised to learn about the meaning of the photo, and deleted it immediately”, adding: “She feels deeply responsible for posting such a photo.”

You can read the full statement here:

More: Fox host reports that K-Pop is a group and not an entire genre

The Conversation (0)