Actor Gwilym Lee from the film, Bohemian Rhapsody, has sparked controversy in Korea with an Instagram post he shared, which contained an image of the Rising Sun Flag.
On November 12, the actor shared a series of photos from their press tour in Japan including photos of various locations and restaurants with a poster of Ben Hardy, who couldn’t make it to the trip.
The Korean public had an issue with one of these photos, however, because of a poster of the Rising Sun Flag that was included in the photo.
The Rising Sun Flag was a flag used by Japan during the Edo period, which is still sometimes used for commercial products or advertisements. However, due to its association with Japanese imperialism, South Koreans tend to find the flag very offensive as South Korea had been oppressed by the Japanese. As a result, many K-Pop celebrities have also been forced to apologize for associations with the flag in the past.
In regard to the issue, netizen reactions were split. Some netizens defended the actor, explaining that he probably did not know what it was and what it symbolized. Moreover, that it wasn’t his fault that the store decorated its interior with the poster.
- “Why make a fuss now? Foreigners don’t have much interest in other countries’ history. We just have to understand.”
- “Is it right to scold them for not knowing and try to teach them forcefully? Stop making it a big issue because you’re jealous of how well Bohemian Rhapsody is doing.”
- “Is that the actor’s fault? It’s the store’s fault for decorating their interior with that thing. How would a foreigner know.”
- “Of course he wouldn’t know. Is it a sin to take a photo without even knowing?”
Some netizens, however, pointed out that what was wrong was still wrong.
- “Is it forgivable if one doesn’t know? If he didn’t know, he should at least apologize.”
- “Yes, he may have not known. If he didn’t know, shouldn’t we let him know and receive an apology?”
- “We should refrain from strong criticism. But how can we not criticize? We need to let them know for sure this time.”
This was not the first time the film Bohemian Rhapsody sparked a controversy in association with the flag. In the film’s teaser, which was released in May, actor Ben Hardy was wearing a t-shirt with the Rising Sun Flag on it.
Once the issue was brought to light, 20th Century Fox edited the pattern out and also deleted it from the actual film.
As a result of their quick and definite response to the issue, the film won the favor of the Korean public and the film has been achieving extraordinary success in Korea. With over 6 million viewers so far, Queen has once again become the latest craze among South Koreans.