K-pop Video References Hiroshima and Features Racist Slurs [Update]

The new single for Korean pop group Red Velvet is called "Happiness." Its video is making some people anything but happy.


While the tune is catchy, the background of one scene flashes a series of old newspaper articles, with titles like "Japs Hit By Atomic Bomb Equal To 20,000 Tons," "Bomb Blasts Hiroshima," "Allies Tell Japs Hirohito Must Obey Our Command," and the words "Atom Bomb" and "Nips."

Here is the section in question:

And in case you missed it:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z4I2Ai…

Image for article titled K-pop Video References Hiroshima and Features Racist Slurs [Update]

The words "Nips" and "Japs" are ethnic slurs against Japanese people and were used to dehumanize them. The nuclear bombing of Hiroshima killed between 90,000 to 166,000 people. Not exactly happy stuff.

Worse yet, the anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing is August 6—less than a week away.

The newspaper article on the opposite page is completely innocuous, reading, "Invest0r Trader...Finance Wealth," "Prudence Dominates," and "Workers Are Cutting Debt..." There are no other newspaper clips in the video.

Image for article titled K-pop Video References Hiroshima and Features Racist Slurs [Update]

Some folks on YouTube say the video has a reference to 9-11 at around 2:25.

The rest of the video does not feature any other newspaper clippings. This does pop up on a television, though:


This comes as the relations between both Japan and South Korea are increasingly strained. Earlier this year, a K-pop group was actually prohibited from using a Japanese phrase on Korean television, and there was an unsuccessful attempt to recently prevent a One Piece exhibition from being held in South Korea.


Online in Japan, people are, well, not happy—others seem surprised at just how blatant it was. "Well, wouldn't this be called hate speech?" wrote another. Another said it was out of line, calling this "too awful."

"This is so anti-Japanese, I actually laughed," wrote one commenter on 2ch, Japan's largest internet forum.


"Whatever, both the song and the video are no good," added another.

Currently, the video has racked up over a half a million views on YouTube, over thirty-thousand likes and nearly 15,000 dislikes.


Look, there is lots of bad history and bad blood between these two countries. Yet, these are countries with much in common and much shared—they really need to get along with each other. Yet, in 2014, here we are. Sigh. Unhappiness.


Red Velvet 레드벨벳_행복 [SMTOWN via 2ch]

Update #1: According to No Cut News (via tipster Sang), the group's management, SM Entertainment, said they will edit the video, adding it was an oversight that this was no discovered prior to release. SM Entertainment apparently asked the video's director, and he allegedly said he was just using images for a collage, but didn't know what they meant. People might have trouble believing that as there are too many coincidences with those images.


The group does have a Japanese Twitter account (here, via Sang). Currently, the Twitter account is trying to explain the video's imagery. Expect this video and the controversy it's causing to be covered in the mainstream Japanese press.

Update #2: The edited video has been uploaded, while the previous video has been taken down (thanks, Sang!).

To contact the author of this post, write to bashcraftATkotaku.com or find him on Twitter @Brian_Ashcraft.


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I see nips as a slur. In today's day and age are people really offended if I shorten the name of their country to one syllable?

Japs to refer to Japanese people in a non-offensive way probably happens on twitter every day due to character constraints. It also doesn't really matter since Japan doesn't describe who you are, just where you are from. And we generally use continents to do the former nowadays (exceptions: Russia, Middle East, US).

I'm sitting here trying to piece together if I would be offended if people referred to US citizens as 'Cans. And then I think to myself: how childish would I have to be in 2014- in a globalized society, to be offended by a shortened term for my country of origin?

Pretty sure we use the word Arab every day. The proper term is Arabian. Its not like anybody is ever going to get confused as to what you are saying. Arab -> Arabian, Jap -> Japanese. Why is one of these a special case of offensive? Are we just grandfathering in the hurt? It seems like we're grandfathering in the hurt instead of abandoning it and letting reason take the wheel. Reason would dictate that shorthand is never a slur, but a slur is a slur (see N word. Well actually looks like the Japs got themselves an N word too?).