Cultural appropriation in the k-pop industry

BLACKPINK’s Lalisa Manobal has recently found herself in hot water due to her performance video for her single money and cultural appropriation is suddenly becoming a topic in K-pop once again. Fans of the K-pop girl group BLACKPINK have been getting good news all year with Rosè attending the Met Gala and with two of the members, Lisa and Rose getting their own solos. Both singles have been very successful with Lisa’s single, “LALISA ” getting over 200 million views on Youtube as of now. However this success does not come without some backlash. 

In addition to releasing “LALISA “ the BLACKPINK member also released a performance video for her track “Money” which has people talking. It is not the song itself that fans have a problem with but the hairstyle that Lisa is seen wearing. In the video Lisa wears red yarn braids in a high ponytail which is a well known style in black culture. This has fans talking because this is not the first time Lisa has been seen wearing braids with the first instance being back in BLACKPINK “Kill This Love” music video. She was called out for it but nothing was ever said or done about it and after a while the situation was swept under the rug, until now.

After the release of the performance video Lisa was once again called out for cultural appropriation and this time fans decided to do something about it. In an online fan sign with Lisa a fan decided to take the time to educate Lisa on cultural appropriation and inform her of her mistake. The fan sign which was originally supposed to go on for about a minute but was extended to six by Lisa. At the end Lisa apologized and promised to be more attentfull saying in broken English, “I’m so sorry for that… I have to like you know double check with everything. I’ll be careful more about… yeah I’m so sorry”. 

Although the issue with Lisa has been resolved, this incident has brung light to other instances in the K-pop community where idols did racist things. K-pop itself is predominantly based off of African American culture containing elements of Hip Hop, R&B and of course, Pop. While there have been groups like BTS and Seventeen that have outwardly supported the black community, many other idols continue to culturally appropriate and disregard the black community. 

Idols such as Jooheon of Monsta x and Hwasa of Mamamoo have been caught using the N slur. Jay Park and former member of Got7 Jackson Wang have worn dreads and other African American hairstyles, and company owner JYP has performed with backup dancers all in blackface. The K-pop community is no stranger to cultural appropriation not only with African American culture but in others as well. And with K-pop suddenly becoming so popular internationally, fans from other countries have begun to speak out about these issues. 

International fans like the one who spoke to Lisa are trying to educate these idols on cultural appropriation so that incidents like these can be avoided but overall there is still not much being done about it. There are still a lot of fans that continue to defend idols rather than have them be accountable for their actions, and in most cases the company does not take action and prohibit idols from speaking out on these topics. While most people tend to believe that the idols don’t know any better, the truth is that there are many idols from western countries like Canada and America such as Wendy of Redvelvet and Jay Park who do colorist things and culturally inappropriate things despite them knowing it is wrong. Cultural appropriation is a problem that likely won’t ever be resolved but it can be improved upon by educating idols on this topic and teaching them and their companies that it is wrong rather than continuing to excuse them for their actions.