Korean actor Choo Ja-hyun has delivered an apology after posting a video to her Chinese social media page in which she refers to kimchi as pao cai, a similar Chinese pickled dish.
Choo uploaded the video, in which she is seen eating a bowl of ramen with kimchi, to the Chinese social media platform Xiaohongshu on Friday. When showing the kimchi, the caption within the video referred to the side dish as “pao cai.”
Shortly after many Korean internet users criticized the actor, the video was taken down.
Through an official statement released by Choo’s agency, BH Entertainment, the actor apologized, saying, “I would like to apologize for causing concerns with such an event, when as someone who has promoted back and forth in Korea and China, I should have been more cautious than most.”
Choo then explained that she had captioned kimchi as pao cai because she believed it was the correct Chinese translation for kimchi.
A daily dose of Asian America's essential stories, in under 5 minutes.
Get our collection of Asian America's most essential stories to your inbox daily for free.
Unsure? Check out our Newsletter Archive.
“In order to educate myself and not repeat the same mistake, I searched for the correct way to express ‘kimchi’ in Chinese,” Choo said in her statement. “Up until recently, the term ‘pao cai’ was an acceptable translation of ‘kimchi’, but in July of last year, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism declared that ‘kimchi’ must be henceforth translated as ‘shin chi.”
The 43-year-old actor said that she would “put in more effort toward educating [herself]” and will “strive harder to protect Korea’s traditional culture and authenticity.”
After the controversy broke out, a Korean professor, Seo Kyoung-duk, uploaded a post on his Instagram stating that Korean celebrities need to be more careful when referring to cultural customs. Seo explained that while Korean celebrities and influencers deserve praise for being “active in China,” he hopes they will refrain from making similar mistakes in the future, particularly in light of various other recent controversies between the two cultures, including “absurd things such as the kimchi process and hanbok process.”
He then added that Korean internet users are making “steady efforts” to correct the incorrect labeling of kimchi as pao cai and that he hopes these small changes can bring people together “so that kimchi can be loved by people all around the world as Korea’s representative food.”
Choo is currently married to Chinese actor Yu Xiaoguang and has previously appeared in K-dramas such as “Arthdal Chronicles” (2019). The actor is also well known in China for her role in the Chinese drama “The Temptation to Go Home” (2011).