A few months back, rookie girl group member Kemy got herself into some considerable trouble for her track entitled ‘Do the Right Thing’ which was uploaded onto online hip-hop community HIPHOP LE. As all K-Pop fans must know by now, this track condemned 2NE1 member Park Bom for her controversy involving smuggling amphetamines into South Korea from the USA. It took a matter of hours for Kemy’s track to start causing a stir and incurring a backlash. However, this backlash not only targeted Kemy, but also her group A.KOR as a whole.
As with many Asian cultures, South Korea holds a very hierarchical tradition at its core. Those older and more experienced than you should be treated with the highest respect in both how you act and speak to them. Those who are younger and less experienced than you are your responsibility in that you should guide and look after them. For A.KOR’s Kemy to speak of her senior (in terms of both age and career) Park Bom in such a manner is no small blunder.
Even if social hierarchy is disregarded here, Kemy’s commenting on Bom’s amphetamine controversy could arguably be seen as a rude act in itself. One could argue that, because Kemy was not personally involved in the matter, she did not have a right to pass judgement on it openly. Of course, when something happens, we all have our opinions, but perhaps Kemy could have been more polite and kept her opinions out of the public arena. (On this other hand, it must be noted that the open expression of opinion is an element of free speech, and one could argue that Kemy is fully within her rights to communicate her views to the world, whether that be the socially polite action or not).
Many have suggested that all this is simply a way for Kemy to thrust her group into the limelight. A.KOR are a rookie group, still very much in their infancy career-wise and all new groups have to fight to get noticed in the already heaving genre of K-Pop. It is plausible that new groups will even use negative publicity to help them achieve this goal – especially if they would like to solidify a ‘bad girl/boy’ image for themselves.
Thus, the backlash came thick and fast from 2NE1 fans and even one of Bom’s stylists. It’s fair to say that Kemy’s actions left A.KOR in the mud. Every article concerning the rookies becomes inundated with a plethora of insults and hate speech in minutes after being posted, even if the controversy itself is not mentioned. K-Pop fans proved once again that they are certainly a passionate, outspoken bunch and not one you want to upset.
As aforementioned, this fan response has often taken the rest of A.KOR with it. When the members covered British girl group ‘Little Mix’, someone suggested that the girls purposely used the V-Sign with their palms facing inward as an offensive gesture towards the group. Whilst this can indeed be regarded as a somewhat offensive gesture in Britain, the suggestion that the girls were striking this pose for that reason is quite ludicrous. Many K-Pop artists use this reversed peace sign as another way of posing and showing a peace sign. I’m sure I speak for almost every British person when I say that it is not offensive when they do so because being offensive is not their intention at all.
I am not excusing Kemy’s actions, in fact, I am almost sure she was aware of what sort of response she would get before she recorded the track. Of course, I am wholeheartedly an advocate of free speech, but I also believe Kemy made the wrong decisions and acted disrespectfully towards her senior. I also think it is ridiculous that all of the A.KOR members must suffer because of this. Whilst they are all part of the same group, they did not all make this move and should therefore not bear these consequences.
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