Currently, tensions are running at an all-time high between South Korea and China. They had a long feud history, including over the history behind hanbok and kimchi. While South Korea claims both as their own, China has argued that Korea stole both from them.
Things hit a peak during the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, starting with the short-track speed skating event. As the 2022 Olympics was hosted in China, many claimed the judges favored the home team. A rift between the Chinese netizens and Korean netizens occurred over the alleged favoritism. That same tension has now seeped into the private lives of certain K-Pop stars.
The issue stemmed from the mixed team’s relay at the 2022 Olympics, according to Koreaboo, where the Korean team had initially entered the pre-semifinals but were dropped from the semifinals. Although they had been selected to move up during the pre-semifinals, after a video replay, they were disqualified. The Chinese team, who was next in line, was chosen to advance to the semifinals instead. The Chinese team had finished third during the semifinals and failed to make it into the finals. However, the United States team, who had originally finished second, became disqualified and China was pushed up to compete in the finals.
Korean netizens were also very upset when a match involving a Korean and Chinese speed skater seemingly showed the Chinese skater pushing the Korean skater, Hwang Dae Heon, on the knee to slow him down. This was during the 1000m semifinals.
Korean nationals were also duly upset when they realized that the Korean team’s Park Jang Hyuk was injured during the match. According to news outlet Joongang Daily, an Italian speed-skater had crashed into him in an attempt to overtake his components. Park Jang Hyuk fell from the collision, and a Chinese speed-skater who was following from behind accidentally skated over his hand. While no one blamed the skaters for the accident, Koreans were heartbroken at the pain Park Jang Hyuk suffered. He was sent to the hospital and could not play in subsequent rounds.
While Korean celebrities supported the Korean teams, including BTS‘s RM and THE BOYZ‘s Younghoon, aespa‘s NingNing fell into hot soup with the Korean public.
NingNing had innocently congratulated the Chinese athletes in Chinese.
NingNing then proceeded to continue to praise the other athletes globally, regardless of nationality.
Koreans felt that as a member of a Korean girl group, promoting mainly in South Korea, she should have been more careful with her words on a public platform. On the other hand, the international audience felt that she was simply congratulating her own country.