Netizens demand apology after Chinese star nabs K-pop idol’s cover photo idea
Published: Mar 08, 2021 05:20 PM
The promotional images of Byun Baek-hyun and Song Zuer. Photo: Courtesy of Douban and Weibo

The promotional images of Byun Baek-hyun and Song Zuer. Photo: Courtesy of Douban and Weibo

One of promotional images for popular Chinese female star Song Zuer, also known as Lareina Song, has recently been involved in a plagiarism scandal, stirring up criticism from Chinese netizens. 

On China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo on Saturday, Song's team posted a collage of photos of Song holding a bouquet of lilies against a background that looks like the bottom page of a magazine with a corner ripped out to reveal a price sticker. 

While the image got many likes from Song's fans on Sina Weibo, who called it stylish, attentive netizens quickly notice that the image looks extremely similar to South Korean idol Byun Baek-hyun's 2019 EP City Lights, with the most convincing argument being that the background images from both works look to be completely the same. 

"You can hardly claim it was not a stolen. It was even sneakier to me that Song has meticulously photoshoped off the unnecessary small things on Byun's photo," said a Chinese netizen on Sina Weibo, referring to the absence of lines such as "The 1st Mini Album" and "BAEKHYN" from Song's version. 

While Song has been adored by Chinese fans ever since she played one of the nation's favorite personas Ne Zha when she was young, she seems to be facing one-sided criticism this time since the majority of Chinese netizens on Sina Weibo have been calling her to apologize to Byun because copyrights need to be safeguarded. 

Song's photographer issued an apology on Saturday, after which her team issued a follow-up statement, but this wasn't before the scandal went trending on Sina Weibo, racking up more than 100 million views before the day was done. 

"…Today's photo given to Song's team was copied the template of Baek-hyun's solo album. It was my responsibility for not having spotted this…I apologize to Byun and Song…,"said Song's photographer.  

Following that, Song's team has also said on Sina Weibo that the plagiarized photo has been removed, and "we are apologizing to all of you guys out there," noted the studio. 

"Us? Shouldn't she apologize to the South Korean idol? I don't feel her apology was sincere," said a netizen, who added that she feels the studio sent the apology only as a PR move and not because the actress felt genuinely sorry. 

"I don't think sending an apology to the public means they are not genuine. Crisis management wise, her team made a quick same-day response to the aftermath as well as tried to contain the contagious and damaging public opinion. They shifted real quick when the scandal broke. Both of these actions are equally important to the 'apology' that Song owes to the person," a PR expert based in Beijing told the Global Times on Sunday. 

Song is not the only star that has been involved in similar plagiarism scandals. Another case that caused a lot of sensation involved Chinese singer Meng Jia appearing half-naked on an album cover photo in February, which turned out to be based on a European model's photo shoot.  

"I will not defend her this time even though she is my favorite and I don't find Byun particularly attractive, it is just about the issue itself," Khaki, a fan of Song based in Chengdu, told the Global Times on Sunday.