There’s no denying that K-Pop often takes inspiration from other cultures when creating concepts and imagery for groups. Sometimes, this is done well, like how many considered BLACKSWAN’s “Karma” to be cultural appreciation instead of appropriation.
Unfortunately, agencies have used concepts from religions in ways that were not appropriate, offending fans. Here are four of those instances.
1. KINGDOM’s Album Design
Fans were left upset after GF Entertainment boy group KINGDOM‘s newest album was revealed to resemble the Quran, Islam’s holy book.
After fans reached out, GF Entertainment announced that the album’s preorder would be delayed, likely to address the concerns.
2. BLACKPINK’s “How You Like That”
After BLACKPINK’s “How You Like That” music video was released, fans quickly noticed that in one scene, there was a statue of the Hindu deity Ganesha placed on the floor.
Hindus believe that the statues of gods should never be placed on the floor or allowed to have shoes near them. YG Entertainment fixed the issue by reuploading the video without the offensive scene included.
3. NCT U’s “Make A Wish”
During their 2020 comeback season, one of NCT U‘s releases received criticism for the music video’s concept imagery and for creating merchandise resembling cultural Indian mosques.
Fans were especially angered due to the ornate cube resembling The Kaaba, a sacred place of worship in the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca.
4. CL’s “MTBD”
Fans were shocked after CL‘s “MTBD” was released due to a scripture of the Quran being used on the track. After the Korean Muslim Federation sent an official statement to YG Entertainment, an edited version of the track was created and used ever since.
While there have been more instances of appropriation, both cultural and religious, one day, companies will hopefully learn before using imagery they don’t understand the meaning of.