Henry Lau, a Canadian singer of Chinese descent, sparked online backlash from Korean fans after a local police station in Seoul appointed him as its anti-bullying ambassador.
Mapo Police Station, which is located in Seoul’s Mapo District, was heavily criticized last week after news broke about its appointment of the 32-year-old as the face of its anti-school bullying campaign.
The police station’s official website was bombarded with more than 300 comments heavily against Lau’s appointment.
“Especially when China has been claiming Korea’s culture and history is theirs, why would we give such a public position to a person who showed support to China’s cultural appropriation?” one commenter wrote. “This is not right. You should reconsider. Looking at his apology, he doesn’t seem to know what he did wrong.”
The negative reaction reportedly stems from claims that the former Super Junior-M member has supported China’s alleged cultural appropriation of Korea’s heritage.
Lau, whose father is from Hong Kong and whose mother is from Taiwan, angered Koreans last year following an appearance in the fourth season of “Street Dance of China.”
In the Chinese dance reality show, a contestant was shown wearing a hanbok while dancing to pansori, a Korean genre of musical storytelling. This was incorrectly described as the traditional dance of ethnic Koreans living in China, who are known as Joseonjok. Korean fans were reportedly upset that Lau did not address the error.
In 2018, he faced online backlash after being accused of writing social media posts supporting Beijing’s “One-China policy.”
On Saturday, Lau took to social media to apologize.
“I’m sorry if I did anything wrong and I apologize for the actions I did wrong and the words I said wrong,” the singer wrote in a now-deleted post on Instagram. “I just wanted to give joy, emotions and smiles to people through music, performances and TV shows.”
He then lamented that the controversy is purportedly due his ethnic Chinese background.
“What hurts me the most is that people are not uncomfortable with something that I said or did, but it is because of my blood,” he said. “All I wanted to do is to make people laugh, but if they are uncomfortable with my blood, I don’t know what to do.”