Japanese war flag sparks TikTok argument between S. Korea and Philippines

菲裔美國籍抖音網紅Bella Poarch|A Filipino-American influencer Bella Poarch, who has 17 million followers, posted a Tik-Tok dance video of herself. (Courtesy of Bella Poarch/TikTok)

TAIPEI (The China Post) — 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🤣

♬ The Banjo Beat, Pt. 1 – Ricky Desktop

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.”


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.

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.