A South Korean ad for an American footwear brand K-Swiss has angered Chinese netizens for the alleged “insulting” and “humiliating” depiction of its Chinese character.
The TV commercial, featuring Korean star Park Bo Gum, was deemed disrespectful by several users of microblogging site Weibo, reported Global Times. Offended netizens even called for a ban of K-Pop stars in China.
The controversial 50-second ad begins with the Korean star playing the popular Asian strategy board game “Go” with a fat Asian guy, presumed to be Chinese. Park’s opponent, who was wearing a black suit and a gold necklace, was named Wanli Chengcheng or the Great Wall of China.
After the Chinese character made his move, the scene transformed into a dance off where the two players are shown dancing on the game board.
Park, who danced while wearing his K-Swiss sneakers, is portrayed as cool character with smooth moves. His chubby opponent, on the other hand, looked visibly clumsy and with terrible dancing skills. He also got a slap from a woman on the dance floor.
The scene later returns to the board game match where Park made his winning move. A sound of a goat bleating in the background was heard while Mr. “Great Wall” was shown.
The video, which became a trending topic on Sina Weibo within 48 hours of its release, is seen to have fueled China’s anti-Korean sentiment. Reports of restrictions on K-Pop artists in China have surfaced following the decision of allied countries South Korea and the United States to deploy the former’s Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD).
Weibo users who were outraged by the depiction of Park’s opponent called for the country’s banning of all South Korean artists in China. The hashtag “Park Bo Gum commercial allegedly humiliates China” has been viewed 2.1 million times.
A poll conducted by the site showed that a staggering 86% of its 300,000 respondents are ready to support a government ban on South Korean entertainers.
The poll was also flooded with 250,000 comments, most of which pushing the idea that “patriotism must precede entertainment.” Criticisms over the deployment of the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system in South Korea were also voiced as a threat to regional security.
Park Bo Gum has a huge fan base in mainland China where K-Pop has enjoyed extreme popularity for more than a decade.