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Australian K-pop star sparks backlash in Korea over ‘Chinese New Year’ comment

An Australian K-pop star has stoked anti-Chinese sentiment in South Korea after innocently bungling a new year’s greeting.

Danielle Marsh, who is a member of the girl group NewJeans, sparked widespread backlash in Korea after referring to the Lunar New Year as ‘Chinese New Year’.

The Newcastle-born teenager, 17, made the blunder while messaging fans in the group’s own subscription-based app Phoning.

Australian K-pop star Danielle Marsh (pictured), from the girl group NewJeans, has stoked anti-Chinese sentiment in South Korea after innocently bungling a new year's greeting

Australian K-pop star Danielle Marsh (pictured), from the girl group NewJeans, has stoked anti-Chinese sentiment in South Korea after innocently bungling a new year’s greeting

‘What r u bunnies doing for Chinese new year?’ she wrote, before quickly deleting it when she realised her mistake.

It’s common for many Western countries to refer to the Lunar New Year as ‘Chinese New Year’, but in Korea it’s considered to be highly offensive and is seen as a pro-Chinese and anti-Korean statement.

Korean internet users blasted the Aussie star in the comments section of major news websites and forums, per translations by Netizenbuzz

‘So she’s Australian, which means it’s not like she didn’t understand the English she was writing in…’ wrote one.

‘I wish these agencies would train these idols in more than just singing and dancing and get them some basic sense. It’s so embarrassing that she even posted the word “Chinese” at all.’

The 17-year-old star sparked widespread backlash in Korea after referring to the Lunar New Year as 'Chinese New Year' in a post on her group's social media app

The 17-year-old star sparked widespread backlash in Korea after referring to the Lunar New Year as ‘Chinese New Year’ in a post on her group’s social media app

‘A pity [NewJeans’] member didn’t know better than to call it Chinese New Year when she debuted to earn her money in our country,’ wrote another.

‘I still can’t forgive them for the Chinese New Year thing… I don’t want to see them again,’ raged another.

‘Please either keep groups limited to Korean-only members or get them all proper history education,’ wrote another. ‘I liked this group because of their good vibes but I’m totally over them because of this. I’m going to stick to supporting groups with only Korean members.’

‘I bet you she has Chinese blood in her family line somewhere,’ one fan said.

Korean internet users have blasted the Aussie star in the comments section of major news websites and forums

Korean internet users have blasted the Aussie star in the comments section of major news websites and forums

Danielle has since issued a grovelling apology for the mistake on the group’s official Instagram account.

‘Although I deleted it as soon as I realized my mistake, my message had already been delivered to many people, and it became impossible to undo,’ she explained.

‘Because Lunar New Year is a holiday celebrated by many countries and regions, including our country [Korea], my choice of words was inappropriate, and I deeply regret it,’ she continued. 

‘I also want to say I’m truly sorry to the Bunnies and many other people who must have been disappointed or hurt by my words. 

‘I will not forget this incident, and I will try to be more careful in my words and actions in the future. Once again, I apologize,’ she finished.

'Please either keep groups limited to Korean only members or get them all proper history education,' raged one Korean fan

‘Please either keep groups limited to Korean only members or get them all proper history education,’ raged one Korean fan

While Koreans have been reluctant to forgive, international K-pop fans have been far more understanding.

‘We call it Chinese New Year in my country as well!! Please do not apologize!! Happy Chinese New Year everyone!!’ one fan wrote.

‘In Australia we call it Chinese New Year, there’s no need to apologize babe,’ added another.

The Newcastle-born star has become one of the biggest names in K-pop in the last year and is currently a global ambassador for the fashion brand Burberry. Pictured in the ad campaign

The Newcastle-born star has become one of the biggest names in K-pop in the last year and is currently a global ambassador for the fashion brand Burberry. Pictured in the ad campaign

NewJeans have become the hottest new group in K-pop since they debuted last July.

They’ve had two No. 1 singles already, with their recent hit Ditto charting internationally in the UK, Australia, and on the Billboard Hot 100, in addition to becoming the most streamed song in history on Spotify in South Korea. 

Danielle isn’t the group’s only Australian member, with Vietnamese-Australian member Hanni hailing from Melbourne.

NewJeans have set the K-pop world on fire and have become so popular that they've even charted on the Billboard Hot 100

NewJeans have set the K-pop world on fire and have become so popular that they’ve even charted on the Billboard Hot 100


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