I'm a Korean American living in the United States and it saddens me to see people hating on Girls' Generation's Tiffany for a mistake she made. If you haven't been living under a rock, Tiffany has received flack for her recent social media controversy involving a Japanese flag emoticon and the "Rising Sun" Flag on the National Liberation Day of Korea.
If you don't know why it's a big deal, basically, the Japanese committed unmentionable atrocities against Koreans and Chinese under the image of the "Rising Sun" flag. To many Koreans, it's akin to the Swastika and Nazi Germany symbology to Jews. Let's just say it's a big no-no to post this if you're a Korean and even a bigger no-no to post it on the National Liberation Day of Korea. Tiffany, you done messed up! You got numerous media outlets throwing shade at Tiffany and netizens calling for her head but I think it's all a bit of an overreaction.
I was born in the States so I'm very Americanized. Honestly, I didn't even know that the Japanese "Rising Sun" flag was an offensive symbol until only a few years ago when the Korean Zombie in MMA called out Ronda Rousey for wearing a "Rising Sun" shirt. I knew about some Koreans harboring a deep hatred for the Japanese. I was reminded of that every time anything Japanese related would come on the TV and my grandpa was around, he would yell, "개새끼 일본놈들!" or roughly translated as, "Those son-of-a-bitch Japanese bastards!" He shared some of the awful things that the Japanese did when he was young. So I knew about that tension and hatred but not specifically about the "Rising Sun" flag. Tiffany was born and raised in California. Just like me, she could've been ignorant to the fact that the "Rising Sun" symbol was offensive. Me back in 2013, would've also posted that same Tokyo geofilter on Snapchat without thinking I was doing anything wrong.
Yes, she did mess up, but you and I know that she didn't mean to offend. Tiffany's from Cali and I see her as having a bit of Valley Girl in her, a little airheaded and some ditziness. I don't want to offend and I do see it sometimes when I watch her on video but I think it makes her more charming. Conducting actions before really thinking things through is what she's guilty of. So when she posted what she did, she did so without situational awareness but also and more importantly, without any malicious intent. I can forgive someone if they make a mistake, especially so when I know where their heart was when the mistake happened. Unfortunately, the media and netizens aren't as forgiving.
I enjoy following stars on social media but all the scrutiny and overanalysis will drive more and more celebs off social media. Why should celebs share anything with fans when they're afraid that something they post with good intentions might blow up and cause a scandal? Overreaction will cause more and more celebs to go dark. This is why we can't have nice things.
I remember a story told by my father's friend when I was a young boy in elementary school. He told me how he emigrated to the United States in the 1970's and back then it wasn't the coolest thing to tell people you were Korean. South Korea was a poor country, perhaps even poorer than North Korea back then, while Japan was prospering. Because of this, even just a few decades after World War 2, the Japanese were seen in a more positive light than Koreans by Americans. Anyways, back to the story... My father's friend was at a job recruiting fair in the United States when he saw a familiar Korean face. He wasn't tight with the guy but they both had mutual acquaintances back in Korea. So he goes up to him and says Hi in Korean and the guy gives him a confused face. Things got awkward when the guy said he doesn't know what language he's speaking and that he's Japanese. "Japanese?!?" my father's friend exclaims and quickly rebutted, "No! You're Korean!" However, the man kept feigning to be Japanese as he thought that would give him a leg up for a potential job. What's the point of telling you this? The point is that some people were once so embarrassed to be Korean they claimed another heritage but is this the case now? No, Korea's economy is now a powerhouse. Take it a step further and the appeal is mostly thanks to Korea's soft power and Hallyu - stars like Tiffany providing a mass appeal to non-Koreans all across the globe. Why do people want to visit Korea? How do people abroad find out about Korea? It's now mostly through Korean music videos or Korean dramas. People abroad have connected most with the stars. I'm proud that Korea's economy rose up and is now part of the G-20 but I'm just as proud of Hallyu. It's now cool to be Korean and I know some Asians who pretended to be Korean to look cooler to people they met for the first time.
We shouldn't be building up stars, just to see them fall. At the end of the day, we're human and we shouldn't lack compassion nor empathy. Yes, Tiffany deserves some backlash but I think there's an overreaction here. Each one, teach one, hopefully, Tiffany has learned her lesson.