Earlier this week, #cancelkorea was trending on Twitter after a racist remark was made by a Korean netizen on TikTok. The backlash was a result of a tattoo spotted on Filipina TikToker Bella Poarch. The design resembled the Rising Sun flag of Japan, a symbol of imperialism, and therefore, the Japanese rule in Korea. Many Koreans took offense and aired their sentiments in the comments section.
This caused a divide between Filipinos and Koreans online, with many Filipinos ready to give up their K-pop and K-dramas in defense of their country. “Put down your light sticks and raise your flag” was the message of the day. One Korean Twitter user said that the incident was reported in Korean news outlets.
However, it seems that Koreans have responded en masse through the hashtag #SorryToFilipinos or #SorryFilipinos. Last September 10, the hashtag landed on the number two spot of South Korea’s trending list on Twitter. Many K-netizens apologized for the malicious remarks in behalf of their fellow Koreans.
Many have expressed that they’re angry with those who have spread malicious comments, and that they do not condone this kind of behavior. They have also expressed their admiration for the Philippines. “I’m so sorry to Filipinos. Here, other Koreans apologize. Most Koreans think this is our fault. [Many of us] love the Philippines so much,” one penned in a heartfelt letter.
“I’m really sorry about this TikTok incident. I think Filipinos are really nice,” one user said.
Some Koreans even got creative with their apologies by posting videos on TikTok. One TikToker even used the viral single, “Kabet,” popularized by Mimiyuuuh on Instagram, as an effort that was greatly admired by Filipinos.
After addressing the wounds caused by the hateful comments, Koreans also pointed out the importance of awareness and misappropriation, especially with regards to the use of national symbols like the Flag of Japan. “I want you to investigate more about the Rising Sun,” one Korean said after apologizing with #SorryToFilipinos.
After Filipinos took wind of #SorryToFilipinos, many have accepted these apologies and hoped that this would serve as a lesson for both sides to cultivate respect.
In fact, Filipino netizens took the opportunity to apologize to Koreans, as many have confessed to saying hateful remarks as well. Thus, the hashtag #SorryToKoreans was also created. “I wanna apologize on behalf of Filipinos who are being racist and toxic towards Korea,” one user said along with the call for awareness about racism.
Koreans have also expressed their desire for racism to stop between both countries. “Now that Filipinos are apologizing, I hope Filipinos likewise stop from making racist comments about them too… Enhance our diplomatic relations with each other more,” expressed one K-netizen.
To mend the relationship and to “move on,” Filipinos have posted photos of the Philippine flag and the South Korean flag. “Let’s love not [create] war,” said one Filipino user.
In the end, both parties acknowledged that the #cancelkorea social media war is a lesson on mutual understanding and respect. Now that everyone is friends again, some Filipinos couldn’t help but jokingly say that they are now back to watching K-dramas and eating samgyeopsal.