There is not a day that goes by that local Twitter trends isn’t occupied with topics about Korea. K-Pop is permanently cemented to the top 5, whichever idol group Filipinos are fawning over at the moment. We love binge-watching K-Dramas and inviting our friends to watch with us too. Heck, we even have two of Korea’s biggest stars (Son Ye-Jin and Hyun Bin) as endorsers for one of the biggest telecommunications companies in the Philippines. Needless to say we like Korea and appreciate everything they have to offer. So it’s definitely a big deal when a hashtag like #CancelKorea trends.
— drastic (@drastic10719204) September 9, 2020
What even started it in the first place?
It all started with a video and a tattoo
A few days ago, Filipino Tiktok star Bella Poarch posted a video of her dancing to a funky banjo beat. It looked harmless enough until Japan’s rising sun flag was seen tattooed on her arm, displayed for all her 16 million followers to see. Koreans swarmed the comments section saying the tattoo was offensive and that she should be aware of the history behind it.
The rising sun is associated with Japanese imperialism and was the flag of the Japanese military when it occupied Korea and part of China. During World War II, it also became the flag of the navy and was heavily associated with Japan’s heinous war crimes against those forced under its rule. As one comment pointed out, getting a tattoo of that symbol could be comparable to having a swastika inked on you, and nobody in their right mind would dare do that.
Shortly after backlash and criticism from her video, Bella posted an apology on Tiktok.
“I’m very sorry if my tattoo offends you,” she wrote. “I love Korea, please forgive me.” Additionally, her caption read, “I would never do anything to hurt anyone.”
Bella also explained that she got the tattoo back in March but has already scheduled it for removal. She also promised to learn more about the symbol’s history and help educate those who are clueless about it so they don’t make the same mistakes.
But the demeaning comments keep coming
Understandably, Koreans were upset. Here comes a TikToker who has tattooed a giant offensive symbol on her arm without knowing what it means. But the thing is, Bella has already apologized and is actually making amends. This, however, did not stop some Koreans from insulting her in the comments section going so far as insulting the rest of the Filipinos too. The issue soon spilled over Twitter sparking an argument on racism and the long history between South Korea and the Philippines.
I’m a kpop fan and I love Korean but the way they didn’t respect Filipinos🇵🇭 are not right.Koreans are small also like Filipinos🇵🇭,Koreans have noses like Filipinos🇵🇭.🇵🇭So🇵🇭 don’t call Filipinos Dumd!!!!! ITAAS ANG BANDERA NG PILIPINAS!!!!!🇵🇭🇵🇭🇵🇭🇵🇭🇵🇭🇵🇭🇵🇭🇵🇭🇵🇭🇵🇭🇵🇭🇵🇭🇵🇭🇵🇭#cancelkorea pic.twitter.com/5hUrk2LIF1
— Jane (@Jjkangelica) September 8, 2020
I admit that since hs I’m an avid fan of Korean stars. I do respect their culture, language, people and their talents. We’re helping you, giving our full respect but in return you did this to us? Please. Respect us too. 🙏#cancelkorea #ApologizeToFilipinos pic.twitter.com/C5o7JIp1bL
— Aileen 🌱 (@aaspn_) September 8, 2020
bella already apologized and she said that she will cover her tattoo. she’s trying to correct her mistake but what’s all this toxic koreans calling us uneducated, ugly, poor and dark? this doesn’t sit right with me. #cancelkorea #ApologizeToFilipinos pic.twitter.com/5lgyu2pjAU
— andy (@andyskylix) September 9, 2020
Along with #CancelKorea, the hashtag #ApologizetoFilipinos also trended with Twitter with Filipino users airing out their anger at the insults.
Some people are even digging up history
(some) koreans: Koreans never forget history.
Filipino: Oh really?! Then why did you forget the history about how we help your freakin’ country. Feel free to research about it darlin’#cancelkorea I’m a fan of K-pop, drama and other related things about Korea but this is 👎😅 pic.twitter.com/40BhZILFCf
— mae4812 (@xomaexo99) September 8, 2020
This is my Lolo, a Korean war veteran. He was so happy when he visited South Korea again last year and got chance to offer flowers to our fallen heroes. Filipino soldiers died for your country. REMEMBER THAT. 💯 #cancelkorea pic.twitter.com/C55pxWyQxH
— AK (@akitabaquero) September 8, 2020
Please do remember that 10th Battalion Filipino Soldiers’ hold on Yultong was the turning point of the Korean War when South Korea was losing against communist-backed North Korea.
Without the Philippines, SK would’ve been a communist country by now. Be grateful SK! pic.twitter.com/1CxfOTktaN
— チェステリヤキ (@chesteriyakii_) September 8, 2020
Many Filipinos are so riled up they did their own research on the history between South Korea and the Philippines. It reminded everyone of the helping hand the Philippines lent South Korea, in the form of Filipino soldiers who died to fight alongside them during the war with communist North Korea.
But are we fighting racism with more racism?
Do y’all remember this. This korean man was bullied for having darkskin in school and using ”filipino” to insult him. Like this was 3 years ago and no one is doing anything. #ApologizeToFilipinos #cancelkorea pic.twitter.com/2qJmXtbIdr
— joy (@joy47207889) September 9, 2020
Many Filipinos said that Koreans have been racist toward us long before the comments on Bella’s Tiktok video. There’s the Hello Counselor game show where Koreans used “Filipino” as an insult for a participant having dark skin. There are also testimonials of Filipinos experiencing racism when they visited Korea for vacation. But as one Twitter user said, some Filipinos aren’t exactly clean. Some have always made fun of K-Pop idols and looked down on the plastic surgery culture in the country. Even if it stings to admit, Filipinos overlook acts of casual racism too.
why is #cancelkorea trending lmao.. when toxic filipinos make fun of male idols for “being gay” or stereotyping koreans for doing plastic surgery u never saw them #Cancelphilippines. smh get over yourselves. some people are racist.
— ｊｍ ✨ (@jmslozada) September 9, 2020
You can’t stop Pinoy pride
— • (@imparsha25) September 9, 2020
Koreans calling Filipinos ugly without knowing that Philippines is rank #2 when it comes of having beautiful people. Philippines have already won 4x in Miss Universe pageant while Miss Korea can’t even enter Top 5. lol #cancelkorea pic.twitter.com/U8Wd1mOZYI
— PROUD FILIPINO WHATEVER HAPPENS 🇵🇭 (@lustrouskaye) September 9, 2020
Tan skin? We rock that.
Filo K-Pop stans are “putting their light sticks down”
For those whos coming for me saying “Cancel the person, not the country,” I ain’t cancelling no one. I’m willing to educate people to be kind and nice.
— Gabb🇵🇭 (@_gabbgabb_) September 8, 2020
I’m proud to be a kpop and kdrama fan, but for now let me put down my lightstick and raise my own flag. Some koreans may have insulted us filipinos and our country, hence we should not curse on them and show RESPECT that they haven’t showed #cancelkorea#ApologizeToFilipinos pic.twitter.com/U2nZFsXOX7
— alexxx_ (@0713Alexandra) September 8, 2020
Filipinos love Korea and that’s a fact but this issue has prompted many to set their fondness aside and step up for their country. Along with the hurt expressed from hateful comments, Filipinos flooded the hashtag with Pinoy achievements, photos of the beautiful Philippines, and are calling Filipinos to spread love instead. Yes, the world might never be rid of racists but what we can do is make sure we don’t stoop to their level.
What are your thoughts on #CancelKorea?