In late September 2023, SHINee‘s Taemin and Key came under fire for comments about Minho‘s skin tone.
In the latest SHINee.ing episode, Key and Taemin commented on Minho’s skin color, making jokes about being unable to see him in the dark and asking why he became so tanned after spending time golfing.
On September 29, Key, Taemin, and SHINee’s production team apologized for the controversial video clip, saying they took feedback from the fans “very seriously” and would be more cautious.
International fans and netizens were surprised to have received the apologies due to SM Entertainment’s track record in such matters.
I dont think y’all realize how rare this is. How many idols have made terrible and even worse remarks recently and never apologize cause they have their fans to shield themselves from accountability? The fact that SHINee apologized? Huge. I’m proud of Shawols. We aren’t a cult.
— ₛₕₐₙ · ටff (@J16328121448) September 29, 2023
shinee's apology letter. thank you, kim kibum. thank you, lee taemin. let's all learn from this and educate ourselves the right way. i love you! pic.twitter.com/kohuCIQUMI
— 📂 (@shineefilms) September 29, 2023
However, the reaction from Korean netizens has been entirely different.
On an online forum post discussing the apologies, many Korean netizens had a negative take on the situation, with many wondering why apologies were needed in the first place.
- Whatever, sigh… It’s not a big deal. It’s like telling someone, “You have such long hair, you could mop the floor with it.” It’s not discrimination.
- Turning this into a way bigger deal than it is… I have a black dog. I tease her all the time when I take her out on a walk at night and I can’t see her. What’s the problem? Pffft.
- And now, Minho’s caught between a rock and a hard place. TBH, I don’t know why we needed apologies. And… Now that we have them, we should stop talking about this altogether.
- Uh… But never in the history of “people with long hair” around the world did they have to go through hell for having long hair. So…
- The times have changed. Now, you make fun of dark skin, you absolutely must apologize.
- They teased him for having gotten sunburnt… How is that racist? Some people have real mental issues to work through. They want to look at everything as discrimination. Once racism’s gone, they’ll find themselves bored because they don’t have anyone to “educate.”
While the response was overwhelmingly negative, some did agree with SHINee’s need to apologize.
- I’m a SHINee fan, and I think they were right to apologize. It’s done and over now.
- I’m baffled that there are people commenting about “Black people being overly sensitive” and “Asians being picked on all the time” when, literally, the members themselves admitted to their mistakes and apologized for them.
- What they said was pretty stereotypical. So I think they were right to apologize. How many of you would be OK with being called a banana just because “there were ill intentions”?
- I understand how Koreans might not be able to wrap their heads around the problem. But SHINee members are global stars. They were smart to respond to the international feedback that quickly.
- I’m not even a SHINee fan, but I think their apologizes were solid. And there’s no need for any further discussions.
Due to worldwide beauty standards favoring pale skin, colorism happens in many places and cultures. With how deeply rooted these thoughts can be, areas still battling this prejudice may not realize how harmful saying certain things is.