K-pop star Chaeyoung apologises for wearing swastika logo

Chaeyoung, a member of Twice – one of the most globally successful K-pop groups – has apologised after wearing a T-shirt featuring a swastika.

The 23-year-old’s T-shirt featured an image of Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious wearing a swastika logo. She posted a photo of herself wearing it on her Instagram account to her 8.6 million followers, but soon deleted it, replacing it with an apology. “I didn’t correctly recognise the meaning of the tilted swastika in the T-shirt I wore,” she wrote. “I deeply apologise for not thoroughly reviewing it, causing concern. I will pay absolute attention in the future to prevent any situation similar from happening again.”

It was the second clothing-related controversy for the vocalist this week, after she performed in a crop top emblazoned with an American flag in a Q shape and the slogan “where we go one, we go all”, a phrase used by conspiracy theorist network QAnon.

It is also far from the first Nazi logo controversy in the K-pop world. In 2018, managers for the world’s biggest K-pop group, BTS, apologised after one of their members was pictured wearing a hat in a style originally worn by SS officers, featuring a swastika and eagle logo. Another member was pictured wearing a T-shirt celebrating Korean liberation from Japanese rule in 1945, accompanied by a picture of an atomic mushroom cloud.

In 2021, Sowon, a member of girl group GFriend, apologised after being photographed with a Nazi mannequin, and hugging and caressing it.

In 2022, a member of girl group Purple Kiss was pictured wearing a swastika in a military-themed photoshoot, with the label apologising and stating “the responsibility of this incident is not on the artist”.

Also in 2022, Korean boyband Epex changed lyrics to their song Anthem of Teen Spirit after references to “crystal night”, “the night in the crystal” and “burning raw” were seen as referencing the 1938 Kristallnacht pogrom against Jews in Nazi Germany. The group also wore military uniforms in the song’s video that somewhat resembled ones worn by Nazi officers. The group’s label C9 Entertainment argued that the imagery was inspired by George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, and the lyrics referred to “robotised education system” in Korea, but apologised and altered the lyrics.

In 2014, Korean girl group Pritz wore black stage outfits with Nazi-like logos on red and white armbands. The group’s management claimed they were unaware of the similarity, and that the logos were inspired by traffic signage.

Chaeyoung’s nine-member group Twice have enjoyed crossover success outside South Korea since their debut in 2015, with four of their albums reaching the US Top 10.