Sowon, one of the six women in the popular K-pop group GFriend, came under fire after posting two flirty photos with a Nazi soldier mannequin. While the singer, whose birth name is Kim So-Jung, quickly deleted the photos off her Instagram page, fans demanded an apology.
The 25-year-old South Korean artist is the leader of the girl group, and users online expressed their disappointment that Sowon would not only playfully pose with a Nazi figure, but then share photos of the moment with her 818,000 followers on Instagram.
tw// nazism, nazi
i'm disappointed of s0won but i'm glad she deleted.. she needs to apologize tho.. nazis are not friends or someone you can hug or look so lovingly at, they are killers, they killed 6 million jews out of them 1.5 million jewish children /srs pic.twitter.com/9GmWT8I60W
— a jewish person (@KOOSDOLLZ) January 31, 2021
While the pictures are no longer on Sowon’s Instagram page, the photos continued to go viral on Twitter on Sunday, causing the pop star’s name to trend internationally on the social media app.
One person tweeted, “sowon messed up big and she definitely needs to apologise… but i think we also need explanations from soumu or whoever organized the cb show cause who tf thought it was a good idea to put that on set??? like wtf.”
Another fan tweeted, “Sowon, please, I’m begging, officially apologize for those pictures. You have Jewish fans, you have black fans, we love you and we need an answer. Deleting the photo is not enough. I love you, I hope you understand.”
The Photos Appeared to Be Snapped During GFriend’s ‘Walpurgis Night’ Album Comeback Show
While many users online assumed Sowon took the photos inside a museum, eagle-eyed viewers recognized the set from GFriend’s behind-the-scenes video of their Walpurgis Night album comeback show, which caused fans to wonder why the Nazi statues were even put there, placing the blame on Source Music, the group’s production company.
“Why are they there in the first place?” one person tweeted. “We have many museums like this in Germany and we are going there to educate people about what they did wrong 80 years ago. Not with fancy close and posing. What was the team thinking?”
Whether or not the photos were taken while on set or in a museum, many fans said the location didn’t matter.
It doesn't matter if Sowon is in a museum. It doesn't matter if she didn't recognize the uniform.
The picture is insensitive and ignorant. Lack of hateful intent does not mean actions shouldn't have accountability.
— kookadooks ◺◊◿ ⁷ (@bstpeach) January 31, 2021
Adding fuel to the fire, on GFriend fan pulled up a photo from a live stream the girl group did in 2016, in which SinB reveals she has Sowon save as “Kitler” in her phone.
How SinB saved Sowon's name on her phone.
KIm sojung + hiTLER = KITLER😈
Well played, kid pic.twitter.com/MmQuPqrKRO
— 친비 (@shawingshin) November 10, 2016
Many fans interpreted the “Kitler” nickname as a combination of Sowon’s surname (Kim) and infamous Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler.
Numerous Fans on Twitter Rallied Against the ‘Sowon Didn’t Know Nazis Were Bad’ Argument
Some users online came to Sowon’s defense to say that maybe the “Rough” singer didn’t know the history of the Nazi regime and therefore, didn’t realize the photos would create such a controversy. But numerous South Korean fans weren’t buying that argument.
One person tweeted, “just gonna put it out there that sowon currently goes to a university (Sungshin Women’s University), and before u go to any university in south korea, u have to take a college entrance exam which includes a social studies section w world history.”
i do NOT want to see “well sowon maybe didnt know” or “koreans do not know about this topic” THERE IS NO EXCUSE FOR A WOMAN BORN IN 1995 NOT TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENED OR WHAT THE UNIFORM SYMBOLISED!
— holly⁷ | DOYOUNG, JIHYO & SOUL DAY (@ikonswishes) January 31, 2021
“it’s genuinely so f****** weird to me like obviously they learned about this s*** it’s just that miss sowon doesn’t seem care,” one person tweeted.
why are some of these people defending sowon acting like korea is cut off from the rest of the world and on a different planet like… I know there’s cultural differences and all that but you can’t tell me they don’t know about a WORLD war
— ☆gracie☆ MIYEON DAY (@mamaidle) January 31, 2021
Another person tweeted, “There’s a swastika on the mannequin cap, it is impossible that someone does not know what that sign represents actually i mean it appears even in memes.”