Drama continues to stir in the K-Pop community again when it comes to culture appropriation and the issues surrounding the mis-use of sensitive content for group promotions.
Recently, ENHYPEN’s Jake has stirred up controversy among the Muslim K-Pop fan community after appearing on Inkigayo sporting a chain that read “Allah,” the God worshiped by Muslims and considered a holy name that should not be used as an accessory or aesthetic. See their performance of “Blessed-Cursed” below.
Fans took to Twitter to voice their concerns and opinions over the matter. The issue was considered ignorant and very disrespectful to the Muslim religion. Although fans voiced their opinions on Twitter, it seems that some other fans have become more aggressive as they demanded the singer make a formal apology and announce his wrong-doings on social media. The aggressive commentary not only flooded the Twitter thread but also began to spread to ENHYPEN’s SNS – including Jake’s recent V-Live.
During Jake’s personal V-Live, Muslim fans berated the artist by calling him names, saying how horrible, insensitive and boring he is, and even demanding apologies due to his disrespect to Allah. During the live, Jake tried to keep a straight face and enjoy his time together with fans, but it was obvious that all the rude comments were getting to him. Despite keeping a happy disposition, when these rude comments would appear here and there, Jake’s facial expressions would blatantly change or he would like puzzled and unsure of how to react as he knows fans can see the comments live as well.
Click the photo to see a Twitter thread of Jake’s V-Live and what fans are saying regarding the issue.
Although this issue has continued to escalate, fans of the boy group have come to Jake’s side to say that Muslim fans should be pointing their fingers at the company and the stylists involved as Jake has no control or say over what he wears on stage and for performances.
“SOME ENGENES are very insensitive. IT IS NOT JAKE’S FAULT! We all know that Jake is a very kind person. Blame the company, not Jake.”
Another Muslim fan reported that her friend tried to speak to Jake about the matter during a live phone call event on V-Live. However, as she was trying to explain to Jake why this was considered offensive and before Jake could respond, a manager interrupted the conversation saying “The time is over, so sorry,” meaning the call had to forcefully end. As it was abruptly ended, Jake simply said “I love you” and brought his hands together to make a heart sign.
Although Jake seemed genuine in hearing out the fan and understanding the situation, it seems his company wasn’t helping the matter and making things worse. Fans are now bickering amongst each other about whether or not Jake needs to apologize or not and how the company can react to this situation and prevent problems like this in the future.
This is why many industry professionals and fans worry that the more K-Pop artists are continuing to grow internationally, the more risks there are involved with cultural differences and clashes. Groups may be uneducated and ignorant in regards to what is respectful/disrespectful and what is considered good manners in a foreign country.
If idols continue to promote in foreign countries, they should not only consider venues, profit, and concert amenities but also revisit the culture and people they are interacting with. Multiple countries graciously open their doors to K-Pop and Korean entertainment companies can (and should!) do their research and show respect to each individual countries’ traditions.
If this keeps up, more idols can undergo trauma and fear of being cancelled – similar to Kim Seon Ho.
What do you think of the situation? Is Jake in the wrong or is his company only to blame? How can we fix the situation and, even better, prevent accidents like this in the future? Leave your thoughts in the comments below and share this important article with your friends!