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30 Jan, 2019 04:39

K-Pop star in hot water after ‘insulting’ Chinese fans with comments on poor air&water quality

K-Pop star in hot water after ‘insulting’ Chinese fans with comments on poor air&water quality

The social media accounts of Hwang Chi-yeul, a South Korean singer, have been swarmed by angry Chinese fans after the K-Pop star blasted air and water conditions in China, where he recently performed.

It may be not be a secret that China has long been struggling with water pollution and smog, a result of its rampant urbanization. However, when the 36-year-old star shared his seemingly innocuous observations on a Korean talk show, he sparked a storm of public indignation within the Chinese online community.

During an appearance on the show Radio Star last Wednesday, Hwang made his fateful comment, saying that when he arrived at the airport at China’s central Hunan province, he “couldn’t see what was in front of” him as “the air quality was really that bad.”

Describing his travails in China further, the Korean singer added that the water quality was not much better.

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“I took a sip of water, and even the taste wasn’t the same,” he said, as cited by the South China Morning Post.

The singer noted that he chose not to fixate on these minor woes during his China trip, saying that “it did not matter overall.” But this did not placate the Chinese, who flooded his account on the microblogging site Weibo with a torrent of vengeful and sarcastic comments.

The top-rated comments called on Hwang to stay away from China for good, since it takes such a huge toll on him to be there.

“Ah, it’s hard for you, the air is not good, the water quality is bad, you have to come to China to collect money,” one commentator wrote.

Many commenters accused Hwang of hypocrisy, arguing that the singer did not mind coming to China to cash in on his shows, despite its substandard environmental conditions.

“China's water and air are not good, it is difficult for you to come to China to make money,” one commenter quipped.

“Yeah, China is so bad, I am not afraid of money,” another user said.

Following the massive backlash, Hwang issued an apology in both Korean and Chinese, explaining that his words were taken out of context and twisted to create a false impression. He stressed that no matter the environmental conditions, his “enthusiasm to participate in shows [in China]” would be the same.

This, however, spawned a new wave of derision, with one inquisitive user asking if the K-pop star was going to apologize to China’s water and air as well. Hwang’s defensive stance also did not sit well with some Koreans, who slammed him for begging forgiveness for effectively nothing and accused the Chinese online community of fanning the flames of false outrage and cyberbullying.

One South Korean program argued that it was a “translation error” in the show’s subtitles that triggered a vicious cross-border online row.

Hwang rose to prominence in China after taking part in the fourth season of the ‘I Am a Singer’ reality show, broadcast on Hunan Television in 2016.

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