On 30 January 2012, rookie group Block B sat down for an interview with Thai Media Outlet RYT9. From the start, this interview was marked by a number of embarrassing and childish actions such as members lounging on the coffee table, dancing in their seats and in one incident, imitating a gorilla. Watch the interview here (scroll to the middle of the page).
What disturbed most viewers and fans though was Block B’s somewhat insouciant attitude towards victims of the Thailand floods. When this topic was raised, the leader Zico said: ‘With this monetary aid, we hope that you will feel better. The only thing we have is money.’ However, when he was asked how much money he had, he replied: ‘About 7000 won‘, causing the other members to erupt in laughter. 7000 won is equivalent to around US $6.
Following the interview international viewers immediately condemned Block B’s actions. The original interview has more than 1.4 million views and 20, 000 dislikes on Youtube.
Some Korean idols have also censured Block B’s behaviour. Nichkhun, Junho and Chansung of 2PM tweeted in response to the incident, expressing disappointment in Block B. Chansung said: “Even if carelessness can seem inevitable even if you’re trying your best to avoid it, if you’re absent-minded and hurt others then act like you’re the best, that’s being careless. This is more than a mistake and proves that you’re that kind of person.. Shame on you.”
Dongho from U-Kiss also tweeted the following: ‘Singer worth 7,000 Won ($6)’. However, his tweet was removed after criticism from netziens.
Each member has issued an apology, acknowledging their regret and shame at hurt the’ve caused Thai and South Korean fans, as well as bowing their heads to the damage they’ve caused to Korea’s national image. The group has also released a video apology.
Click here to read their written apology.
There is a possibility that SBS, KBS and MBC will ban Block B’s promotional activities on music programs. The group was absent from February 24th’s ‘Music Bank’, 25th’s ‘Music Core’, and 26th’s ‘Inkigayo’. However, it is contentious whether or not this is a sign that Block B’s activities will be ‘banned’ indefinitely, or just ‘restricted’ until the controversy dies down.
Block B’s leader Zico shaved his head on 20 February in order to express his remorse. A member of the group, P.O. was also hospitalised on 24 February due to the stress of the incident.
A false rumour was spread on the internet that Thai companies had broken trade links with Korea, and that an export deal fell through because of Block B’s incident.
There was also a rumour of an online petition requesting Block B to commit suicide. This was apparently what triggered P.O.’s hospitalisation. However, as there has been no evidence of this petition having existed, it must fall into the realm of conjecture.
This is not the first example of a Korean idol or band misbehaving, and in my cynicism, I don’t think it will be the last. Although what Block B did was disrespectful I believe that they have taken the necessary steps to apologise for their actions. It is now up to the media and the fans to decide whether they will forgive Block B and support them past this incident.
What are your thoughts?
If you want to find out a bit more about Block B:
Official website: http://brandnewstardom.com/blockb.do
NalinA Music Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=grrpg_r1Nb8&feature=fvst