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.”
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Some netizens appreciated the look, but the hair piece sparked a debate in Chinese media because of its phoenix shape.
Am I seeing it right? wonyoung in a korean traditional hairpin??????????? https://t.co/R2OiPaHsfS
— ritz | After Like (@iveeey04_) September 26, 2022
Chinese video game distributor NetEase discussed the hairpin on their 163.com 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.
Nobody wants her to be Chinese, but phoenix comes from Chinese myth and phoenix hairpin is Chinese traditional hair accessory. It is a fact. Wonyoung made a mistake, and u guys are defending for her just bcuz u r her fan. Stop double standard. https://t.co/f7b2ncSLJ8
— kdd (@nmsl1023) October 19, 2022
people are so unserious for getting mad at wonyoung for “culture stealing”, it’s literally just a hairpin she bought from korea to show her culture, how is that stealing chinese culture …
— c ✨️ 😍 (@jaeyunpotter) October 19, 2022
Wonyoung never said anything about phoenixes, she just said its a hairpin. Those people purposely translate what she said wrongly to make cn people misunderstood.
— yogurtified (@ancientyogurt) October 19, 2022
hmm wonyoung ain’t partially wrong if you actually research the hairpin she wore is actually know as a culture for them (this is like the kimchi and hanbok thing situation tbh)
— . (@wnyprotector) October 18, 2022
You’re fucking stupid. Which sentence of Wonyoung mentioned Phoenix? All she said was the hairpin she was wearing. https://t.co/uhxZ70WABP
— 😎 (@YiWennie_chan) October 19, 2022
Feature Image via Vogue Korea