By Kwaak Je-yup
After a barrage of online criticism and a celebrity Twitter blast, new hip-hop boy band Block B publicly apologized for their cultural insensitivity and misbehavior in a recent interview with a Thai online news outlet.
“We misunderstand where the line is drawn between freedom and lack of common sense,” said P.O., one of the band’s seven members, in a statement posted Monday on the group’s bulletin board for fans, commonly called fan cafes here. “We apologize again to the people of Thailand and our fans. We truly regret the damage we have caused to the image of Korea and its artists. We will fix this mistake.”
The rest of the group uploaded letters of apology individually on the same site quickly after. Their management agency led by retired rapper Cho PD, called Brand New Stardom, also issued a statement of its own, asking for the public’s forgiveness for its singers’ “immature” behavior.
Thai media site RYT9 posted the 30-minute clip of the controversial interview in entirety on YouTube last month without any comment, but once it caught the attention of the active Korean online community, it spread like wildfire, attracting more than 150,000 views in less than a month.
“I hope monetary compensation will heal their wounds,” said Block B’s Zico in the taped segment, when asked about his take on the widespread flooding that devastated Bangkok and its surrounding regions. “And all I have is money, you know?”
Then, another member asked him the total worth of his assets, to which he responded “7,000 won (approximately $6),” laughing.
These comments conformed to the general levity of the band during the interview, which included a fellow member lying down on a coffee table, among other behavior that drew general outrage from the Korean public. Their infamy increased with widespread media coverage and a Twitter reaction from an older and more-established celebrity.
Nickhun, member of heartthrob boy band 2PM and ethnically Thai, tweeted Sunday: “Learn some manners and get a better understanding of Thailand when you go to the country,” without specifying the subject of his criticism. Fellow 2PM singers also chimed in shortly after.