IVE member Won-young’s phoenix-shaped hairpin accused of appropriating Chinese culture

  • Jang Won-young of K-pop girl group IVE recently showed off a Korean hairpin at the FRED Gala Dinner in Paris last month.

  • The singer said the hairpin, which is from a Korean jewelry brand called NASCHENKA, was meant to “show the look of Korea in Paris.”

  • However, a Chinese media site called NetEase took umbrage with Won-young’s claim the hairpin was Korean because it is in the shape of a phoenix.

  • The pin has sparked online debate about cultural appropriation, as Chinese netizens claim the phoenix originated in China while others argue she never mentioned anything about the phoenix and was merely trying to highlight an accessory from a Korean brand.

Jang Won-young of K-pop girl group IVE attended the FRED Gala Dinner in Paris last month and received praise from Korean netizens for her traditional hairpin, but backlash from some Chinese media.

In a video from Vogue Korea, Won-young explains her full outfit before highlighting the accessory, saying, “Today’s outfit goes so well with updo hairstyle. We styled each element together. I also put on this hairpin to show the look of Korea in Paris. How does it look? I did my best to bring this friend from Korea.”

The hairpin is from NASCHENKA, a South Korean jewelry brand. In the company’s Instagram post about the accessory is the hashtag “bonghwang binyeo,” or “phoenix hairpin.”

Some netizens appreciated the look, but the hair piece sparked a debate in Chinese media because of its phoenix shape.

Chinese video game distributor NetEase discussed the hairpin on their news site, claiming, “There are hairpins in Korea, but the hairpins with the phoenix pattern are unique to China.”

Other Chinese netizens weighed in with comments, such as “Isn’t that stealing from our traditional culture?,” “This is an intolerable problem” and “She should correct herself and apologize, saying she didn’t know that the phoenix belonged to China.”

The outlet also exacerbated rumors that Won-young is of Chinese descent, something which other netizens have argued against, in defense of the idol’s Korean heritage. 

NetEase concluded by saying, “Our history and traditional customs/culture are very old, and we welcome people to learn, but we absolutely do not tolerate theft.” 

Twitter users added to the debate with their own opinions. 

In related IVE news, the K-pop act recently had an August comeback, “After LIKE,” and performed at KCON 2022 Japan earlier this month. 


Feature Image via Vogue Korea

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