The Nine-Dash Line and The Backlash Against Chinese K-pop Idols

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It was recently brought to my attention that Super Junior-M member Zhou Mi made a comeback with the new single “What’s Your Number?” and the music video dropped several days ago. I was out of the loop on this one until the TOS team brought up the curious fact that the video was picking up just as many dislikes as likes and the heated debates in the comment section were blowing up.

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Now let’s back up a bit as I try to shed light on the sudden outburst of Zhou Mi hate. This is not as unfounded as some outsiders might believe it to be, or as shallow as most K-pop drama tends to be. This whole issue is actually very political in nature and I’m here to break it down for those non-Asian K-pop fans who might not be familiar with China’s claims over the bulk of South China Sea and the infamous Nine-Dash Line, and why Zhou Mi is receiving hate because of it.

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Maritime disputes between China and surrounding nations is nothing new. Territorial claims have been made across the South China Sea for decades. Some of the contested lands include the Spratly Islands and the Paracel Islands. Basically, the Nine-Dash Line is the demarcation line used by the government of China for their claims over the majority of South China Sea.

Tension in the high seas grew when China started land reclamation and the building of lighthouses and airstrips, as well as military facilities, in the disputed areas. The Chinese Coast Guards started firing at Vietnamese and Filipino fishermen in an attempt to drive them away from, as far as the fishermen were concerned, waters that belonged to them.

In 2013, the government of The Philippines formally initiated arbitration proceedings against China’s territorial claims. They cited the Nine-Dash Line as unlawful under The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Just recently, The Philippines unanimously won its case against China and, as one would expect, China refuses to acknowledge the ruling.

And now comes the good part. In a show of support for their motherland, and to contest the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration, Chinese idols have posted to their SNS accounts images displaying their opinion on the Nine-Dash Line. Zhou Mi, Victoria of f(x), Lay of EXOFei of miss A, and other Chinese K-pop idols took their stand to social media, and as such, there is a huge backlash coming from their Southeast Asian fans, the Vietnamese in particular.

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I suppose because K-pop is HUGE in Vietnam, more so than any other Southeast Asian country, the Vietnamese K-pop fans would be the most affected by what’s happening. They’ve been loudly voicing their frustrations against the Chinese idols, on social media and on YouTube. Even Fei, whose solo debut is approaching, was not spared from the vicious dislikes to her solo teaser video.

While no one cares which side you or I stand on, idols always get the shorter end of the stick when it comes to these issues. If they voice opinions other than what their government says is right, they are easy targets of patriotic fans. If they echo the same patriotism as their countrymen, then fans from other parts of the world throw misplaced anger at them. It’s tricky, being a celebrity with all the world’s eyes on you.

I’m not here to voice my sentiments on China’s claim over all of South China Sea. I’m not here to question the actions of the Chinese idols. I’m neither an expert on the laws of the seas nor on the thought processes of people in the limelight. I just want to break it down for those of you who may not have understood why these music videos were getting so many dislikes. But maybe allow me to post a few questions. Does politics have a place in K-pop? Is the backlash unfounded? Do you understand where the resentment is coming from? Is K-pop becoming too deep and heavy lately?

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  • Sushu Wang

    No such thing as bad publicity? I like that my love for K-Pop will also inform me of current international events.

  • keziarhh

    Shouldnt it be good that Kpop fans are “deep and heavy” enough to be critical of their idols’ political statements?

    And if, like your question, whether politic should be applied to kpop or not, shouldnt you also direct that questions to said idols too.

    And remember, if these idols are pressured to show their patriotic acta, they should share it only on weibo, not on the platform where their Vietnamese and Philippino fans can see it.

    The burden of the brutalized is not to comfort the bystanders. -Jesse Williams.

  • Caribes

    They’re celebrities not some leaders to guide you about right and wrong in this world. People should stop trying to put them on a pedestal where they’re interpreted as role models. They’re celebrities but still human so they’re gonna fuck up. They’re not your parents or president. They’re celebrities.

  • Anon

    Nine-Dash Line+Taiwan+HongKong are part of China, and China don’t use violence. Stop getting brainwashed by social media!