SEOUL (Reuters) – A industrial by Japanese clothes model Uniqlo has stirred a client backlash in South Korea amid accusations that it mocks victims of wartime pressured labour and brothel employees, reopening deep wounds from Japan’s colonial previous.
A YouTube video created by a South Korean pupil parodying the ad has gone viral and protesters have focused Uniqlo shops, demanding an apology from the corporate.
In the Uniqlo industrial, Iris Apfel, a 97-year-old American type icon with greater than 1.four million Instagram followers, is in an animated dialog with 12-year-old dressmaker Kheris Rogers.
When Rogers asks how she used to decorate as a teen, Apfel says: “I can’t remember that far back!”
Instead of a literal translation of that line, the industrial that aired in South Korea carried subtitles saying: “Gosh! How can I remember something that goes back 80 years?”
Gaining greater than 101,000 views in two days, the 19-second parody video posted on Saturday depicts a likeness of the Uniqlo TV industrial, which the corporate started airing this month in South Korea and different markets.
In the parody, South Korean faculty pupil Youn Dong-hyeun stands with Yang Geum-deok, a 90-year-old lady who had been a pressured labourer for Japan’s Mitsubishi throughout World War Two.
Youn, a historical past main, asks how laborious it was for Yang when she was younger. “It is impossible to ever forget that awfully painful memory,” she replies. Youn has posted the video with subtitles in English and Japanese.
Uniqlo, owned by Japan’s Fast Retailing Co Ltd, pulled the ad in South Korea on Saturday.
“There was no intention to touch on the issue of comfort women or the South Korea-Japan dispute,” a Uniqlo official in Seoul advised Reuters, asking to not be recognized due to the sensitivity of the state of affairs.
“Comfort women” is a euphemism for women and girls, lots of them Korean, who had been pressured to work in Japan’s wartime brothels.
Relations between the 2 nations are at their poorest in a long time after a ruling by South Korea’s prime court docket final yr ordering Japan’s Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to compensate wartime pressured labourers.
In July, Japan tightened controls on exports of three key high-tech supplies to South Korea. Seoul accused Tokyo of taking the step in retaliation to the court docket ruling, prompting a wide-ranging boycott of Japanese merchandise.
South Korea and Japan share a bitter historical past relationship to the Japanese colonisation of the Korean peninsula from 1910 to 1945, together with the usage of consolation girls.
South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon travelled to Japan on Tuesday to attend Emperor Naruhito’s enthronement ceremony on behalf of President Moon Jae-in.
Lee’s workplace mentioned he deliberate to fulfill Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday, which might be the highest-level contact between the 2 nations since July’s export curbs.
Uniqlo has already seen its South Korean gross sales hit and a pointy drop in clients at its shops as a part of the boycott.
The translation for the ad’s subtitles, which was carried out in South Korea, was meant to assist convey the message of the unique industrial, the official mentioned. She declined to establish who had carried out the interpretation.
Student protesters took to the streets as the outcry towards the industrial grew, demanding an official apology from Uniqlo.
Bang Seulkichan, 22, was amongst these picketing a Uniqlo retailer in Seoul, holding an indication that learn: “Colonial rule 80 years ago – we remember!”
Park Young-sun, South Korea’s minister for small and medium enterprises, advised a parliament committee on Monday the ad controversy was “very upsetting”.
Reporting by Sangmi Cha; further reporting by Ju-min Park; Editing by Jack Kim, Lincoln Feast and Dale Hudson