Celebrities from across the world have been called out for cultural appropriation and hurting the sentiments of their fans from other ethnic groups. The latest celebrity to join the list is South Korean singer Lee Sun-mi, known by her stage name, Sunmi.
The K-Pop singer shared a TikTok video of her and two dancers bobbing their heads and making hand gestures to a popular Indian song.
For those of you wondering what happened with Sunmi:— SARAH (@BARBZMlN) July 26, 2020
Please respect the opinions of your Indian mutuals and try to support them in this. So many Kpop idols are culturally insensitive and refuse to learn about different cultures even though they have access to the internet. pic.twitter.com/4n7GqW8bKZ
While Sunmi herself just giggled and laughed, the background dancers are being called out for rolling their eyes and bobbing their heads in, for a lack of a better word, Apu fashion. Many fans on Twitter stood up for the singer and defended her, saying that the dancers were at fault, but the fact that this video was shared on social media is enough proof that it was considered appropriate.
People who are asking why it is insensitive 😓 I’m not even Indian but this obviously looked very wrong and offensive. Who tf sees this and does not get offended by how they’re mocking the dance? I mean fr poeple.— 玲玲 (@TheGirl62) July 26, 2020
I am Indian too. But I see everything WRONG about this. They are stereotyping my culture. Making it the butt of the joke. Mocking a culture. But you are entitled to your openion.— ⁷Ugh! (@moonprincejini) July 26, 2020
hi I'm Indian! it's offensive because while the song in itself is just another song, it has been used to mock Indians/Indian culture/traditional dances, etc— sash⁷ (@forestfairyjoon) July 26, 2020
Though some did come to the singer's defence, saying it's just another song. Others pointed out, that in this day and age of the internet, understanding and remaining appropriate towards other cultures isn't very hard. The singer could have researched a bit before jumping onto a TikTok trend. Soon after the incident blew up on Twitter, Sunmi posted an official apology acknowledging her ignorance.
There is no reason or intention for me to mock the culture of other countries. It's because of my ignorance of the culture. I apologize for being ignorant about the culture of other countries. And I'd like to say that I am truly sorry to those who have been hurt by my ignorance.— Miyayeah (@miyaohyeah) July 26, 2020
Even the background dancers in the video have shared their apologies pertaining to the incident.
Dancers in the video have apologised too pic.twitter.com/RACJsL21GE— Bangtan Sonyeondan and Sunmi for life ಡ ͜ ʖ ಡ (@BTSTXTpredicts) July 27, 2020
Seeing the apology, fans appreciated Sunmi's effort but also encouraged her to educate herself and those around her about cultures. There is a thin line between enjoying other cultures, appreciating them and then making a mockery out of them, maybe it is time we start defining those lines better.