At the start of 2022, the girl group NATURE excited fans after announcing that they would be having a comeback nearly two years after their last release. After years of waiting, the members changed their image and returned with “RICA RICA.”
Yet, as more information about the comeback was released, netizens raised their concerns about the alleged cultural appropriation seen in the material.
On January 19, a teaser image was posted on the group’s social media, and instantly fans saw that one of the members was wearing a bindi.
The bindi is a colored dot or sticker worn on the center of the forehead, originally by Hindus, Buddhists, and Jains, and it can symbolize many things, including marriage.
Yet, when the music video teaser was released, many believed that the group had capitalized on the desi culture, using it in a way that wasn’t deemed respectful.
For many, the issues started as soon as the video began. The music playing in the introduction seems to contain traditional Indian melodies. It was combined with hand gestures that have been synonymous with Asian dance. However, the moves have also been used in the past to imitate stereotypes of this kind of dance.
The initial issue of the members wearing bindis in the teaser was reinforced after the snipped from the music video was released. With a close-up of all the members, it seemed like all of the members had some variation of them.
Netizens also pointed out that this, combined with the makeup on Uchae and Lu, seemed similar to those worn by Asian brides when they get married with bold red lips and hairstyle.
When both the teaser and music video preview was released, fans shared their thoughts on social media. Many already drafted templates for the company trying to bring attention to the issue raised by netizens.
Although there was an initial conflict between whether it was “appropriation” or “appreciation,” many from that area of Asia raised their disappointment at the number of times this has happened within K-Pop.
Considering that this is the first comeback in so long for the group, many are disappointed that they changed their unique concept and replaced it with something deemed as respectful by many netizens.
Neither the group nor the label n.CH Entertainment has responded to the allegations.