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A Chinese K-pop band member, Wang Yiren, has been widely condemned and even racially abused after she elected not to kneel down before fans in Seoul like her Korean bandmates. Wang instead made a Chinese gesture.

Footage of the performance in early January went viral and has caused outrage in South Korea. Wang, a member of the group Everglow, decided to forego the traditional kneeling Korean welcome gesture, but instead performed a Chinese hand signal. 

The singer made a fist and palm salute to express thanks and New Year greetings, a gesture common in her homeland. Meanwhile, her Korean colleagues knelt in front of the audience. 

The act of kneeling is no longer considered appropriate in China and is regarded as a servile gesture. However, it remains alive and well in South Korea as a way to greet others and offer thanks. 

Wang’s exploits have already attracted widespread condemnation on social media. According to the South China Morning Post, many people told the K-pop star to “Go back to China” and said, “Don’t earn money in Korea.” 

“All this shows that the Chinese are arrogant and have no respect or consideration for other cultures,” a commenter wrote on K-pop news site allkpop. “Stop making Korean money and go back to your country then,” another one added. 

Chinese fans have defended the singer, with many noting that people from China don’t kneel down. 

On Sunday, Yehua Entertainment, which manages Everglow, announced that Wang would be taking a break from the group and would return to her native China until the end of February in order to focus on her studies.

The singer said in the statement that she wanted to go home and see her family, adding that she had not seen them since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The band will continue with its schedule with the remaining five members.