NewJeans‘ Danielle recently came under fire for referring to the Lunar New Year as the “Chinese New Year” in her message to fans.
The idol sent a message on the fan communication app Phoning, asking, “what r bunnies doing for Chinese new year?”The term quickly threw off many Korean people, as the preferred name and romanization of the holiday are “Seollal.”
Following the backlash, Danielle removed her message and posted a lengthy apology on the group’s official Instagram page on January 21.
Hello, this is NewJeans’ Danielle.
On Phoning this past Thursday, January 19, I asked, “what r u bunnies doing for Chinese new year?” I realized I’d made a mistake and deleted the message right after. But it was already shared with a lot of people, and I could not undo what had happened.
Even though the Lunar New Year is celebrated worldwide, Korea celebrates it as Seollal, a national holiday. Therefore, I admit that calling it [the Chinese New Year] was inappropriate, and I deeply regret the use of the phrase. I sincerely apologize to Bunnies and everyone else who became disappointed and/or offended by my action.
I will turn this into a learning opportunity and make sure I’m more thoughtful in how I behave and express myself going forward.
Again, I’m sorry.
—Danielle via Instagram
The aversion of Korean netizens to the term “Chinese New Year” primarily stems from the tug-of-war going on between China and Korea involving identity politics. The tension between the two countries over cultural matters has only escalated in recent years, with the tiff regarding Kimchi and Hanbok still fresh in the internet’s memory.
But to many international fans, this issue seemed to be no big deal since in the West, the festival is often referred to as “Chinese New Year,” or “Lunar New Year,” interchangeably.
After Danielle posted her apology, the issue blew up even more, with many new posts being uploaded on Korean blogging forums to discuss the matter. The current public opinion seems to be mixed towards the idol, with some people still sour about the incident while others justify that she made an honest mistake.
- “What a clean apology.”
- “Oh, I was not expecting her to apologize! Good for you, Danielle. Just be more thoughtful from now on. I like that her apology acknowledges her mistake.”
- “I hope baby girl isn’t too hurt over this.”
- “She apologized, so it’s all good. Unlike some idols who still haven’t apologized for being pro-One-China.”
- “This is a very well-written apology. I appreciate that it isn’t beating around the bush.”
- “I thought Danielle lived in Korea for a while now. Wasn’t she on some Korean TV show, too?”
- “HYBE needs to work on educating their idols. None of them seem to know anything about history.”
- -DELETED COMMENT-
- “I mean, I also learned seollal as Chinese New Year in elementary school. So… Yes, she was reckless, but it’s not like the phrase doesn’t exist.”
- “To be honest… This does throw me for a loop. It’s not like she had any reason to mention China at all?”