The controversy has revealed a cultural difference that may prove to be detrimental to actor Steven Yeun.
Korean-American actor Steven Yeun “liking” a picture on Instagram has gotten him into big trouble. In the post, a boy sports a short and headband with a rising sun emblem.
While to most it is a design symbolic of Japan, to Koreans and many others in Asia it is a harsh reminder of the Japanese imperialism that affected much of the continent leading up to and through the Second World War. Indeed, for many, it is equivalent to the Nazi’s swastika.
Unsurprisingly then, many have responded to his liking of the post negatively and criticized the actor. In response, the Yeun posted an apology in Korean and English regarding the matter. However, the contents of the post differed by language.
In Korean, Yeun apologized to those who may have been hurt by his actions. Further, he wrote that he has never taken any “message or image relating to [that] tragic moment of Korean history” lightly. More, he explained that he liked the post carelessly while scrolling on his cellphone.
Conversely, in the English portion of his post, he expressed sadness that his one “mistake on the internet” was leading people to create unsubstantiated ideas about his beliefs and thoughts. The differences in the apology sparked controversy and backlash that led to Yeun deleting the post only 40 minutes later.
Professor Seo Kyung-duk at Sungshin Women’s University commented that the issue at hand is not the apologies, but that that the apologies in Korean and English were very different. More, some felt insulted by what seemed like an insinuation that Yuen’s Korean fans could not understand the English portion of his post.
On Sunday afternoon shortly before 5:30 pm KST, the actor posted another apology. Unlike his deleted post, both the Korean and English messages are the same. Yeun wrote that he had been ignorant and inconsiderate and once again apologized to those hurt. Further, he learned “how deeply [his] negligence could affect other and took the feedback from fans and other around him seriously. Lastly, he promises to make sure that he does not repeat the mistake in the future.
Public reaction to Yeun’s second post has been mixed. Some have thanked him for making an effort to own up to the incident while others continue to express disappointment in his actions. Unfortunately for the actor, the tone of the responses suggests that the public’s opinion of him has soured.
On another note, some article has mentioned that director Joe Lynch posted the picture like by Yeun. Lynch is an actor and director and is the creative mind behind the award-winning 2017 horror flick Mayhem in which Yeun starred.
However, when Kpoplove went to investigated the director’s social media page, the picture could not be located; it is unclear if it had been deleted. Notwithstanding, we have discovered that Lynch has posted similar content in the past, like this gif from the movie Nightmare on Elm Street 4. More, another media outlet Kookmin Daily appears to have gotten a screen grab of the original picture.
Furthermore, it is also interesting to note that there has been no coverage of this situation in English media as of the publishing of this article. As such, while this incident may affect his reputation in Korea and other parts of Asia, it seems that it will have little impact on his career in the West.
Meanwhile, Yeun will attend an official press conference at the Cannes Film Festival for his new film Burning. Previously Yeun was cast as the main character in Mayhem and starred in the hit television show “The Walking Dead.”
Translated by O.C
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