K-Pop Fans Upset As Idols “Promote” Starbucks Amidst Boycott For Palestine… But Should They Be?

Netizens believe idols are being paid to promote.

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K-Pop fans are upset as many of their favorite idols appear to be endorsing American coffee chain Starbucks.

While Starbucks has been historically a popular go-to choice for coffee, as there are shops across the world, many are currently boycotting.

Media coverage of the Israel-Palestine crisis has increased after Hamas’ attack on Israel on October 7. More people are finally becoming aware of the conflict that is taking place in the Gaza Strip, voicing their outcry about the human rights issue. Thousands of civilians have been killed as bombings and other fighting occur in the region, and many survivors have lost families, friends, homes, and more. Latest reports estimate that over 20,000 Palestinians have been killed in the region, and over 2 million in Gaza are suffering from severe hunger.

In October, the worker-led union of Starbucks, which represents 9,000 employees, shared a post via X (formerly Twitter). The union stated that they stand in solidarity with Palestine.

As of June 2023, over 8,000 workers at over 360 Starbucks stores in at least 40 states in the United States have voted to unionize, primarily with Workers United. As of March 2023 none have yet enacted a collective bargaining agreement.

— Wikipedia

Shortly after, Starbucks released multiple statements denouncing the union. Starbucks did not want to be associated with the union’s stance.

Starbucks wanted to stop the union from using its name and logo, saying the company had no official stance on the war and the union’s post might confuse customers. But many boycotters, like Blake, thought Starbucks should offer more support to the people of Gaza.

— AP News

| Starbucks
Starbucks

Starbucks sued their employees on October 18 for trademark infringement, claiming that the social media post in question angered customers, potentially damaging the company’s reputation.

Starbucks
Starbucks

On the other hand, many customers were turned off by a company suing its workers, especially over what many consider a humanitarian cause. So, Starbucks has been boycotted primarily in the U.S. due to this as people feel it was not only wrong for Starbucks to sue its employees over a social media post but that the company, which has historically attempted to appear liberal and diverse compared to other companies, has taken a controversial stance rather than showing support and solidarity for the oppressed.

Starbucks has lost $12 billion USD in market value in the past two months. The company has even faced store closure and bankruptcy in many countries due to the boycott.

So, K-Pop fans were shocked and disappointed when some of their favorite idols suddenly started appearing with Starbucks cups.

@jpbrinx

like did y’all really need the money 💀 #starbucks

♬ original sound – Sweetpea 😍 Her

@katwiia

#kpop #blackpink #somi #fyp

♬ original sound – …

Soloist Jeon Somi especially shocked her fans when she began a makeup video with a sip out of a reusable Starbucks cup from the company’s 2023 holiday collection. The video went viral with 6.7M views at the time of writing, with the comment section filled with netizens calling her out.

@somi_official_

#sugarplumfairy sparkle beaming🎀🧚🏻‍♀️🫢 트랜드 열차 탑승이염

♬ original sound – ˚₊‧꒰ა ✮ ໒꒱ ‧₊˚

The video is still up, and Somi has not addressed the matter, further disappointing netizens, knowing she is frequently online. Consequently, many Somi fans have closed their accounts.

In fact, a surge of K-Pop idols has been seen with Starbucks cups recently. Netizens do not believe it’s a coincidence, considering K-Pop idols usually go to lengths to cover up logos as it interferes with current and/or potential endorsement deals.

So, netizens suspect that K-Pop idols are being paid to endorse Starbucks as the company is potentially attempting to get K-Pop fans’ support, knowing the fandom’s loyalty. Previously, Western celebrities also appeared to have received endorsement deals from Starbucks.

Some fans have defended their idols, claiming ignorance regarding the Israel-Palestine crisis—as “it’s another country’s problem” or “the boycott is primarily based in the United States.” There have been pro-Palestine protests in South Korea, though, and many idols are also frequently on social media.

That being said, it should be noted that Starbucks Coffee Korea is independent. The current CEO is of the global retail tech company Shinsegae I&C, Son Jung Hyun. Starbucks actually has no shares in Starbucks Coffee Korea. The only tie is that the franchise does pay 5% royalties for using the brand’s name and logo.

Unlike other boycotted chains like McDonald’s, Starbucks has not sent funding to Israel. Taking this into consideration, some have argued that continuing to purchase from Starbucks Coffee Korea is not an issue.

Opinions remain divided: Some K-Pop fans argue that it’s still problematic, as it’s about principle due to Starbucks’ mistreatment of their employees who voiced their support of Palestine. Others have pointed out that not all the idols purchased the Starbucks products themselves. Drinks are often provided by staff.

@nini_n19

#starbucks #kpopfyp #svt #hoshi #svtcarat

♬ original sound – Nihel ⋆。°✩

Likewise, NCT‘s Doyoung endorsement deal with McDonald’s has been met with backlash. Read more below.

NCT Doyoung’s Recent Endorsement Deal With McDonald’s Sparks Controversy Due To Israel-Palestine Conflict

Source: AP News and theqoo