Tiffany, a member of South Korea's prominent girl group Girls' Generation, was expelled from a TV reality program Thursday as public anger remained unabated for using the politically sensitive emoticon of Japan's imperial army flag.
KBS, a state television station, said the singer would be kicked out from "Sister's Slam Dunk", a reality show that has aired every Friday from April 8. The show features six women and follows their attempt at fulfilling each cast member's dream using a budget of about $2000.
"We've decided not to cast Tiffany ... in consideration of public sentiment," KBS said in a statement. The singer's management agency, SM Entertainment, apologized for the scandal and said Tiffany was "deeply repenting" for her blunder.
The 27-year-old posted a photo of herself, Sooyoung, and Yuri at SM Town's Tokyo show on Sunday, a day before the August 15 Liberation Day marking an end to Japan's harsh 1910-45 colonial rule over the Korean peninsula. The photo was accompanied by the caption "Babes" along with a Japanese flag emoji.
Tiffany (Stephanie Young Hwang) deleted her post with an apology but the situation got worse the next day because of her Snapchat. She again used the "rising sun" flag.
Definitely, she used the flag emoji to show she was in Japan, but it sparked a furious reaction at home because the "rising sun" flag has long been seen in South Korea and other Asian countries as the symbol of Japan's imperial army before and during World War II.
Some sympathetic fans insisted the US-born singer probably did not know the flag was a painful reminder of Japan's colonial rule and wartime cruelty. But online communities were abundant with a flurry of angry posts that prompted Tiffany to apologize for her "inconsiderate" behavior.
Tiffany made her solo debut this year while playing an active role as a unit group "TaeTiSeo" involving Taeyeon, Tiffany, and Seohyun.
The Tiffany scandal came as relations between the two Asian neighbors have been in the doldrums over territorial and historical disputes. Many South Koreans still harbor deep resentment against Japan over its colonial rule, and South Korea insists Japan should apologize and make amends for past wrongdoings.
Aju News Lim Chang-won = firstname.lastname@example.org
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