The Chinese Embassy in South Korea has responded to the backlash over a presenter wearing a hanbok during the 2022 Beijing Olympics opening ceremony.
A spokesperson for the embassy in Seoul explained that the presenter was included to represent ethnic Koreans living in China who share common Korean traditions with those living in the Korean peninsula.
Many South Koreans, including politicians and activists, expressed disapproval over what they contend was the latest in what they believe is China’s cultural appropriation of South Korean traditions.
Through a statement issued by the Chinese embassy, China denied accusations of cultural appropriation.
“It is common knowledge that China is a multicultural country with 56 nationalities, and the Chinese government makes a point of paying respect to and safeguarding the legitimate rights of all nationalities with regards to their customs and habits,” the statement read, according to Shine.
Ethnic Koreans who live in China, also known as “Chaoxianzu,” are individuals who share common cultural traditions with Koreans living in the Korean peninsula while being citizens of China.
Rejecting claims of cultural appropriation, the embassy announced that they value respect when it comes to Korean traditions and hope that South Koreans can respect ethnic groups in China, including those of the Chaoxianzu community.
“The Korean people in China and the north and south of the Korean peninsula share the same origin and have a common traditional culture including clothing,” China’s embassy said, according to Reuters.
Several South Korean politicians have since asked for mutual understanding and respect between the two countries and their respective cultures.
Park Byeong-seug, a National Assembly Speaker, stated that the “Hanbok is one of the most representative elements of South Korean culture, no one would doubt this, and the South Korean people need to be proud of its culture,” reported Global Times.
The Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism of South Korea, Hwang Hee, also released a statement that the Korean government does not plan on filing any complaint to Beijing over the hanbok and that the dress issue may have caused some “unfortunate misunderstandings.”
According to U.S. News, the South Korea Foreign Ministry estimates that Chinese Koreans make up about 2.5 million people out of China’s total population of 1.4 billion people.