Stories of cultural appropriation from various sectors have often made rounds, much to the distress of the ethnic groups whose culture is being appropriated. For instance, celebrity Kim Kardashian wearing traditional Indian maang tikka and gold bangles, or a Delhi store selling tribal print as a ‘tribal Nagaland costume’ online.
As per a report in News18, K-Pop idol Lee Sun Mi, who is popularly known by her stage name Sunmi, is the latest to come under fire. She, along with two other dancers have been accused of “mocking” Indian culture in a recent TikTok video, which has now been taken down.
In the video, the dancers can be seen making hand gestures, rolling their eyes, and bobbing their heads to the popular Daler Mehndi song ‘Tunak Tunak Tun’, while Sunmi giggles on. Check out the video below:-
I am an Indian and I want to ask what did Sunmi do that's offensive here. I only feel weird about the faces and hand moments that her back up dancers are doing. Sunmi is just giggling throughout the song. Koreans love this song and she is just enjoying it. pic.twitter.com/XfeOWXrfZr
— Bangtan Sonyeondan and Sunmi for life ಡ ͜ ʖ ಡ (@BTSTXTpredicts) July 26, 2020
Needless to say, Desi Twitter was not impressed. Here’s what they had to say:-
the video is gone but i remember her backup dancers started bobbing their heads to the song as if to imitate indian classical dance steps and soon sunmi joined in
— avni🧸| chuu ost! (@5vlvt) July 27, 2020
it’s mockery and can be offensive to desi people and their culture
— GoldenSun ⁷ (@7_goldensun) July 26, 2020
indians in the comments saying “it’s okay” – it’s not. when you live outside india, ppl use these songs to mock indian culture and indian people. we get degraded into curry eaters and funny hand movements. please understand that even if it was a joke, there was no reason +
— nvy⁷ (@palettehyyh) July 26, 2020
People who are asking why it is insensitive 😓 I’m not even Indian but this obviously looked very wrong and offensive. Who tf sees this and does not get offended by how they’re mocking the dance? I mean fr poeple.
— 玲玲 (@TheGirl62) July 26, 2020
Soon after the incident blew up, Sunmi and the dancers took responsibility and posted an apology for their fans, alongside acknowledging their ignorance. Find the posts below:-
There is no reason or intention for me to mock the culture of other countries. It's because of my ignorance of the culture. I apologize for being ignorant about the culture of other countries. And I'd like to say that I am truly sorry to those who have been hurt by my ignorance.
— Miyayeah (@miyaohyeah) July 26, 2020
Dancers in the video have apologised too pic.twitter.com/RACJsL21GE
— Bangtan Sonyeondan and Sunmi for life ಡ ͜ ʖ ಡ (@BTSTXTpredicts) July 27, 2020
We hope that celebrities make it a point to use their platforms in an informed manner, and more people are encouraged to learn and respect other cultures. What do you think?