Anger is rising in the Philippines against South Korea following an incident involving a social media star, her online fans and a tattoo depicting the Rising Sun flag of Japan.
Bella Poarch, who has more than 15 million followers on TikTok, had posted a photo of herself with a tattoo design that was once the symbol of Imperial Japan, GMA Network and Manila Bulletin reported Wednesday.
The 19-year-old Poarch, described as being of Japanese and Philippine descent, issued an apology on Sunday after her online fans from Korea expressed offense at the tattoo. Before Japan’s defeat in World War II, the Korean Peninsula was under Japanese colonial rule for 35 years.
The TikTok star apologized this week and pledged to get rid of her tattoo.
“I will have the tattoo removed or do a coverup. I did not know the history behind the tattoo and I will educate others about it,” Poarch said.
“Please educate yourselves and learn more about it because it came from a terrible history. It’s very offensive to a lot of people. Please learn from my mistake.”
Some commenters may have accepted the apology, but some accounts, identified in local media as belonging to Korean users, attacked Poarch with racial slurs, according to reports. By 9 a.m. local time, the hashtag #CancelKorea was trending on Twitter in the Philippines as users began to condemn South Korea, South Korean pop culture and warned Koreans to remember the Philippine troops who took part in the 1950-53 Korean War.
“I may like your songs, your cultures, and I even wanted to study in Korea but I love my country. I’m [going to] put my light stick down and proudly raise my flag!” one user tweeted.
The incident is raising concern in South Korea that the popularity of Korean entertainment could be hit hard in the Philippines, Yonhap reported Wednesday.