Korean YouTuber says sorry to Chinese fans for liking a comment that says kimchi is a Korean dish

That's quite a pickle.

Darryl Laiu | January 19, 2021, 05:19 PM

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A South Korean mukbang star — who goes by the name of Hamzy — has found herself in the middle of a dispute between Chinese and Korean netizens.

An online argument about whether kimchi originated from Korea or China had reignited when she posted a video of herself eating octopus bibimbap and white kimchi on Jan. 15.

Hamzy had "liked" a number of comments about China claiming Korean kimchi, a traditional fermented vegetable dish, as its own, South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported.

Allkpop further reported that Hamzy had also "liked" a comment that said: "I was angry that Chinese people claimed that ssam (vegetable wrap) was theirs, but I'm happy that you posted a video of you eating ssam."

Chinese viewers had felt offended by the "likes" as they interpreted the move as being anti-China.

Agency plans to terminate the contract

Since the controversy, Suxian Advertising, Hamzy's business partner in China, said in an online notice that they planned to terminate its contract with her, SCMP reported.

The Shanghai-based company, which runs Hamzy's video accounts and online shop in China, said: "We are firmly against any action that insults China and do not allow any foreign bloggers we signed contracts with to have any attitude or comments that insult China."

Hamzy had also confirmed in a post on her YouTube community page that her contract with the Chinese company had been terminated.

The Paper further reported that all of Hamzy's videos have been removed from Chinese video sharing website Bilibili.

According to CGTN, Hamzy's followers on Bilibili, also known as B Site, dropped from 1.8 million to 1.4 million overnight.

All her past videos have also been removed from her official Weibo page.

Hamzy apologises

In a live-stream on Jan. 16, Hamzy apologised directly to the Chinese community. A translator helped convey her apology in Chinese to the audience.

In the video, she said that she did not intentionally "like" the comment, and had clicked the button without reading what it said. She explained that she usually just scrolls through the comments, which were normally in support of her, and she would just click like.

She added that she did not intend to offend anyone, and said she hopes that people will forgive her.

However, Chinese viewers had remained unappeased.

According to SCMP, one fan wrote: "I feel sorry that I ever liked you. Nothing comes before loyalty to my country. I will not call you names, because I did once like you, but this is goodbye."

Another commented: "You should say that pickled vegetables are Chinese cuisine."

"Will not work in China" if she has to say kimchi is a Chinese food

Nevertheless, in her post on her YouTube Community page, which is accessed by more South Koreans than Chinese, Hamzy had doubled down and said: "If I have to say that kimchi is a Chinese food in order to work in China, I will not work in China."

"Even Chinese people do not have to say that Chinese food is Korean food in order to be active in South Korea. I think Chinese people will understand this."

Dispute over kimchi

The latest controversy came in the wake of an earlier spat between Chinese and South Korean netizens that was sparked by Chinese viral YouTuber Li Ziqi's video that showed her making pickled vegetables.

She had attached the tags "ChineseCuisine" and "ChineseFood" to her video.

South Korean netizens then criticised her for claiming a part of Korean culture as Chinese, while Chinese netizens defended her and hit back at the criticisms.

The dispute over fermented vegetables has lasted since November last year when nationalistic Chinese state-affiliated tabloid Global Times reported Beijing's winning of an international certification for pao cai, a pickled vegetable dish from Sichuan, as "an international standard for the kimchi industry led by China", Reuters reported.

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Top image from J K/YouTube and Hamzy/YouTube.