K-pop singer Choi Siwon from the popular boy band Super Junior has apologised to his 16 million Chinese fans for “liking” a South Korean news post on Twitter about the Hong Kong protests.
Choi, 33, liked – and later unliked – a Tweet from the South Korean newspaper Chosun on Sunday which linked to an interview with Chow Pak-kwan, the 21-year-old Hong Kong protester who was shot by a traffic policeman at point blank range on November 11.
Mainland internet users called for Choi to leave Super Junior, making him the latest public figure in the Asian entertainment world to spark an online backlash from nationalistic Chinese over alleged support for the anti-government protests in Hong Kong, now about to enter their sixth month.
Many commenters on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like social media platform, accused Choi of being a supporter of Hong Kong independence.
“You don’t know anything at all. Why did you even ‘like’ it?” read one top-rated comment on Choi’s page on Weibo.
“If you are really sincere in your apology, why don’t you put a statement on Facebook and Instagram? Don’t think that Chinese fans are all fools,” wrote another.
Choi, whose fan base on Chinese social media dwarfs his 6.7 million Twitter followers, apologised on Sunday in a post on Weibo. “I saw what happened on Twitter caused some problems. As for my actions, I would like to express my wish that the violence and chaos can come to a peaceful end as soon as possible,” he wrote.
“Because this behaviour caused a lot of controversy and has made people disgusted and disappointed, I express my most sincere apologies to everyone.”
Choi is part of Super Junior’s Mando-pop subgroup Super Junior-M, which has a considerable fan base in China. Several Super Junior Chinese fan groups announced they would be cutting ties with Choi.
ELF, one of the most established Chinese fan groups for Super Junior, said on social media that it would be boycotting Choi’s participation in the boy band’s forthcoming Macau concert in January, as well as all Choi’s activities on the mainland.
Another Weibo forum, specifically for Choi fans, announced on Monday that it would be closing for good. “Nothing and no one can shake our position. We will not make the slightest concession when it comes to patriotism,” the administrator wrote.
Beijing has frequently attacked pro-democracy protesters as separatists backed by foreign powers who are intent on splitting Hong Kong from the mainland, and any public support of the protests has met with a swift backlash in China.
Other stars who have been attacked by mainland social media users over their stance on Hong Kong include Canto-pop singer Joey Yung Cho-yee and Hong Kong actress Charmaine Sheh Sze-man. Many celebrities are reluctant to broadcast their political views for fear of alienating the massive, and lucrative, Chinese market.
More from South China Morning Post:
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