GFRIEND‘s Sowon is facing intense criticism after uploading photos of herself posing with a Nazi soldier statue to social media.
On January 30, Sowon uploaded a series of photos of herself to her personal Instagram account, @onedayxne. In the photos, Sowon can be seen posing affectionately with a life-size figurine wearing a Nazi uniform.
The uniform seen on the statue was worn by Nazi soldiers during World War II. The jacket and collar feature patches denoting rank, while the artillery uniform cap is designed with a swastika insignia.
Shortly after Sowon uploaded the photos to Instagram, they were soon deleted. However, one Jewish K-Pop fan on Twitter later noticed the images and proceeded to share them, letting their followers know the violent history behind the statues.
tw// nazism, nazi
i'm disappointed of s0won but i'm glad she deleted.. she needs to apologize tho.. nazis are not friends or someone you can hug or look so lovingly at, they are killers, they killed 6 million jews out of them 1.5 million jewish children /srs pic.twitter.com/9GmWT8I60W
— a jewish person (@KOOSDOLLZ) January 31, 2021
Within hours, the photos received thousands of engagements on social media. Originally, fans assumed they were taken in a museum. However, they were actually taken on the set of a VCR for GFRIEND’s Walpurgis Night album comeback show.
Eagle-eyed fans soon uncovered the shooting location—Café Zino in Paju, South Korea. The café and chocolatier has appeared in numerous popular K-Dramas in the past, including Crash Landing on You, Goblin, and The Heirs. While the décor does use European history as its theme, it is unclear why the interior designers chose to add such controversial figures to the mix.
Upon seeing the photos, fans of both GFRIEND and other groups are calling on Sowon to apologize for causing hurt and offense to people around the world.
Buddys, stop arguing. Sowon needs to be held accountable, she needs to learn from this, she needs to APOLOGIZE.
— jackie (@eunhaesthetiic) January 31, 2021
Many are angered and perplexed about why Sowon would pose with the statues to begin with. Some fans believe it’s unlikely that she knew the meaning of the uniforms while posing for the pictures. Others say that the Holocaust and surrounding events are well-taught in Korean schools, giving Sowon no excuse to be oblivious.
tw nazis, holocaust, anti- semitism
to everyone who’s defending sowon with “koreans don’t know, etc” here is me talking to my KOREAN dad who went to school in KOREA whether he knows about the holocaust. he clearly knows and learned what the holocaust is. so stop excusing this. pic.twitter.com/QeVApGo3RK
— 🐏 (@cheolca) January 31, 2021
That aside, many have pointed out that whether there is negative intent or not, parties must still be held accountable for harmful actions. Fans are criticizing Sowon for deleting the photos without taking accountability nor posting any clarification or apology for those affected by the images.
It doesn't matter if Sowon is in a museum. It doesn't matter if she didn't recognize the uniform.
The picture is insensitive and ignorant. Lack of hateful intent does not mean actions shouldn't have accountability.
— kookadooks ◺◊◿ ⁷ (@bstpeach) January 31, 2021
On top of that, alleged screenshots from a live broadcast in 2016 have resurfaced. During the broadcast, SinB appears to tell fans she has Sowon’s name saved in her phone as “Kitler”–presumably a combination of Sowon’s surname (Kim) and Adolf Hitler, the dictator of Nazi Germany.
How SinB saved Sowon's name on her phone.
KIm sojung + hiTLER = KITLER😈
Well played, kid pic.twitter.com/MmQuPqrKRO
— 친비 (@shawingshin) November 10, 2016
As of yet, neither Sowon nor Source Music have issued a statement on the growing controversy. “Sowon” began trending on Twitter in various countries, including the United States, as fans try to get through the company and the artist.
This article has been updated to reflect new information on the location where Sowon’s photos were taken.