A Filipino-American influencer, Bella Poarch, who has more than 17 million followers, posted a TikTok dance video with a Japanese rising sun flag on her arm, sparking a heated debate between South Korean and Filipino social media users.
According to various news outlets, Poarch’s left arm is tattooed with the Japanese war flag, the Rising Sun flag, a symbol of Japanese militarism during World War II.
For South Koreans, the flag is reminiscent of Japan’s atrocities against South Korea during World War II. It is offensive as it is seen as the equivalent of the German Nazi swastika.
So I decided to make a dance for this sound & I’m not even good at dancing🤣
Many users from South Korea spotted the tattoo and criticized the 19-year-old influencer for being ignorant of the meaning of the image and its historical conflict.
There are even some users who went as far as generalizing the Philippines as a “poor country with non-educated, short people.”
why #cancelkorea is trending?
bella poarch, a well known tiktoker (a former navy), had a tattoo of the rising sun flag (shown in the picture) and it symbolizes the war flag of the imperial japanese navy. this explains why koreans are mad to her (by calling ph&pearls harsh words) pic.twitter.com/ZDCfzwgHf7
— kali 𐤀 (@kalibtxt) September 8, 2020
The influencer who was born in the Philippines and moved to the U.S. six years ago, posted an apology to her fans for the controversy, in which she expressed her love for South Korea and stressed that she would cover up the tattoo or simply remove it.
However, the apology could not soothe the anger of social media users. In response to the attack, Filipino users took to Twitter with the hashtag #CancelKorea to express their displeasure over South Korean’s malicious criticism of the Philippines, which shot to the top of the trending hashtags.
— 𝘾_𝘼 𝘽 𝘽 𝙔🌻 (@cabbage_cabby) September 9, 2020
Some Filipino users, however, called for calm and restraint and advised to understand where the reaction was coming from.
In response to the hashtag, some Koreans expressed sadness over the issue and have since shared positive messages on Twitter.
— 김우우🕶 (@kim__oo614) September 10, 2020