Chinese social media users flooded the comment sections of Korean celebrities who wished their fans good fortunes using the phrase “Lunar New Year” instead of “Chinese New Year.”
On Sunday, K-pop star Jang Won-young of IVE posted a picture of herself wearing a hanbok on Instagram with the caption “Have a happy Lunar New Year,” using the Korean word for Lunar New Year, “Seollal,” in her post.
Chinese commenters quickly bombarded the post with criticism of her use of “Seollal” instead of "Chinese New Year," even accusing Jang of cultural appropriation.
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“Please Koreans stop your cultural appropriation. The Lunar New Year is Chinese and there is no room for doubt,” one user wrote.
Chinese fans left negative messages and emoticons on both CL and Seohyun’s posts, with some users even writing extensive comments relaying the history of the Chinese New Year.
Conversely, some celebrities who used the term “Chinese New Year” received criticism from South Korean commenters.
On Thursday, NewJeans members Danielle and Hanni both sent messages to their fans on Phoning, a fan communication platform. While Hanni used the term “Lunar New Year,” Danielle’s message read, “what r u bunnies doing for Chinese new year?”
Hanni received criticism from Chinese fans for her phrasing while South Korean fans displayed their disappointment in Danielle’s choice of words.
On Saturday, Danielle posted the following apology on the NewJeans Instagram page:
This is NewJeans’ Danielle.
Last Thursday, Jan. 19, I sent the message, “what r u bunnies doing for Chinese new year?” on Phoning. I realized my mistake and deleted it right away, but many people already received the message and it was too late to take it back.
The Lunar New Year is a holiday that many countries and regions, including our country [Korea], celebrate, so my statement was inappropriate and I deeply regret it. I also want to apologize to the Bunnies and many others who were disappointed or hurt by my words.
I will not forget this incident and will work towards being more mindful of my words and actions in the future.
Once again, I am sorry.
Danielle, the 17-year-old member of the Korean girl group formed last year, was born in New South Wales, Australia. She holds dual citizenship in South Korea and Australia.