On August 15th (Korea National Liberation Day, the day Korea was liberated from Japanese occupation) Tiffany of Girls’ Generation, who was in Japan for the group’s tour, posted a group photo to her instagram with members Soo Young and Yuri and in the caption put a Japanese flag emoji with a heart emoji. Then on SnapChat she posted a photo with a geotag filter which featured the words Tokyo decorated with the Rising Sun.
I personally do not see anything wrong with Tiffany’s Instagram post, which I will get into, but the SnapChat filter I can understand the outrage from Koreans. To explain this let’s do a bit of history.
From 1910 to 1945 Korea was occupied by Japan. During that time, while Korea was modernized significantly, the citizens suffered greatly under Japanese rule from laws that enforced censorship, the forced assimilation of Koreans into Japanese culture through education and language, the infamous use of “comfort women” during WWII, and much more. It was an extremely oppressive and violent time for Koreans. During this time The Imperial Japanese Army used the Rising Sun flag, and it therefore became a symbol of Japanese Imperialism, and thus is associated with the occupation of Korea as well as other events that took place during Japanese Imperialism and WWII.
Therefore, it is completely understandable that this flag elicits negative feelings for Koreans as well as people from other parts of the world. To give this a bit of context and for better understanding, the Rising Sun Flag is to Koreans as the Nazi flag is to Jewish people or the Confederate Flag is to Black people. That being said, I put most of the fault with SnapChat for using this imagery in their geotag, because just they would and should never use the Nazi flag or Confederate flag to design geotags for Germany or for South States in the US, that shouldn’t happen with Japanese cities. Ignorance of the issue is not an excuse.
As for the Instagram photo, like I mentioned, there was no reason for controversy in that. It is not uncommon to post a picture or emoji of a flag when you’re there or posting about that county, and being that that is Japan’s current flag, there isn’t anything offensive in that. As I mentioned, if the Rising Sun flag is to the Confederate Flag then the outrage over an Japanese flag emoji would be to get upset over an American flag emoji.
Additionally, I do not think Tiffany had any ill intentions, and it is completely unfair of the media and netizens to accuse her of pledging allegiance to Japan. The MBN anchor that congratulated her for Japan’s win over Korea in the Olympics in doubles Badminton was uncalled for, and was just him and his station being bullies:
“How did you enjoy the special National Liberation Day films that were aired on television? First up, National Liberation Day special film ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s.’ You’re asking when did ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ air on television? It did air. [I’m talking about] the rising sun flag controversy that Girls’ Generation’s Tiffany caused on the morning of Liberation Day. She gifted us a truly upsetting morning…[The loss] is unfortunate, but we still must celebrate what we must celebrate…Congratulations, Tiffany. We will end ‘News Fighter’ here today.”
I will admit the timing was really bad considering what day she posted the SnapChat. Also, considering the bloodshed and opression that that flag represents, and being a black person and imagining myself seeing a celebrity I follow doing the same thing but with something containing a Confederate Flag, I cannot say the public being offended is unfounded. But again, the issue, for me, lies more with SnapChat than with Tiffany.
She has since released an apology:
“Hello, This is Tiffany.
I apologize for upsetting so many with my mistake on this important day. I’m ashamed for disappointing everyone with this kind of mistake, and I deeply regret my actions.
In the future, I’ll make sure to keep in mind that my actions and my words have a wide audience. I’ll work toward becoming someone who thinks carefully about my actions, and make sure something like this doesn’t happen again.
Again, I sincerely apologize for disappointing everyone as a result of my shortcomings.”
…so the Korean media going on an all out witch hunt for this woman is ridiculous. Now it seems like Tiffany might be facing professional repercussions. She has been removed as the spokesmodel for IPKN, a cosmetics, brand after being their model for three years, and now netizens are calling for her removal from KBS’ Sister Slam Dunk. I hate to say this but I believe had this been a male celebrity, things wouldn’t be this fired up. Honestly, when Kang In of Super Junior originally got off with a slap on the wrist after his second, and might I add highly disturbing, DUI charge, there was not nearly this much of an out cry or blatant attack from the media.
Tell me what you think of Tiffany’s controversy in the comments below, is the outrage justified or not?