Chinese observers call for ‘harmony among diversity’ after Chinese K-pop group member sparked controversy for celebrating China’s success at Winter Olympics
Published: Feb 10, 2022 07:17 PM
Ning Yizhuo Photo: Snapshot of Sina Weibo

Ning Yizhuo Photo: Snapshot of Sina Weibo

Chinese observers called for harmony among diversity and mutual respect in international sports and cultural exchanges after news that a Chinese member of a K-pop group had become the target of cyberbullying for congratulating China on winning an Olympic gold medal began trending Thursday on Chinese social media.  

According to a report from South Korean media outlet The Dong-a Ilbo, South Korean netizens fell into heated debate about how Ning Yizhuo, a Chinese member of the hit K-pop girl group aespa, celebrated her country's gold medal in the mixed team relay short-track speed skating event at the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games.

The star, better known as Ningning, posted in Chinese on a private message platform on Saturday "Wow. I'm very glad after knowing we got our first gold medal tonight," along with a congratulatory emoji.

Some South Korean netizens who saw Ningning's message responded that they would no longer be fans of her or the K-pop group. Others called for a boycott by calling her to leave the girl group, while some others demanded she apologize for her comments. Not all the comments were negative, however, as some netizens showed their understanding for the star's excitement.

The hashtag has earned 310 million views on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo as of Thursday afternoon.

Zhang Yiwu, a professor of cultural studies at Peking University, told the Global Times on Thursday that celebrities are also watching the Olympic Winter Games and have the right to express their opinions or show their sense of identity.

"Sporting competitions surely involve the concept of 'country' as athletes are trying their best to fight for their countries. Artists' congratulating their home countries is a natural emotional expression. Netizens should be more rational and hold a tolerant and open attitude toward this without overreaction," he said.

He added that seeking harmony among diversity and showing mutual respect for  cultural exchanges is a way to show respect for international sporting competitions and the Olympic spirit.

On Sunday, Ningning wrote in Korean: "All of our athletes are so amazing" and "All people on the planet are one family."

This is not the first time that a Chinese entertainer has suffered from cyberbullying on South Korean social media platforms. Chinese star Wang Yiren also caused controversy after using traditional Chinese etiquette to give a New Year's greeting instead of following her South Korean teammates in kneeling to fans at an autograph session on January 2.