GFRIEND Sowon is facing intense criticism after uploading photos of herself posing with a Nazi soldier statue to social media.
On January 30, Sowon uploaded a series of photos of herself to her personal Instagram account, @onedayxne.
In the photos, Sowon can be seen posing affectionately with a life-size figurine wearing a Nazi uniform.
The uniform seen on the statue was worn by Nazi soldiers during World War II. The jacket and collar feature patches denoting rank, while the artillery uniform cap is designed with a swastika insignia.
Shortly after Sowon uploaded the photos to Instagram, they were soon deleted.
However, one Jewish K-Pop fan on Twitter later noticed the images and proceeded to share them, letting their followers know the violent history behind the statues.
Within hours, the photos received thousands of engagements on social media. Originally, fans assumed they were taken in a museum. However, they were actually taken on the set of a VCR for GFRIEND’s Walpurgis Night album comeback show.
Eagle-eyed fans soon uncovered the shooting location—Café Zino in Paju, South Korea. The café and chocolatier has appeared in numerous popular K-Dramas in the past, including Crash Landing on You, Goblin, and The Heirs. While the décor does use European history as its theme, it is unclear why the interior designers chose to add such controversial figures to the mix.
Upon seeing the photos, fans of both GFRIEND and other groups are calling on Sowon to apologize for causing hurt and offense to people around the world.
Many are angered and perplexed about why Sowon would pose with the statues to begin with. Some fans believe it’s unlikely that she knew the meaning of the uniforms while posing for the pictures. Others say that the Holocaust and surrounding events are well-taught in Korean schools, giving Sowon no excuse to be oblivious.
That aside, many have pointed out that whether there is negative intent or not, parties must still be held accountable for harmful actions. Fans are criticizing Sowon for deleting the photos without taking accountability nor posting any clarification or apology for those affected by the images.
On top of that, alleged screenshots from a live broadcast in 2016 have resurfaced. During the broadcast, SinB appears to tell fans she has Sowon’s name saved in her phone as “Kitler”–presumably a combination of Sowon’s surname (Kim) and Adolf Hitler, the dictator of Nazi Germany.
As of yet, neither Sowon nor Source Music have issued a statement on the growing controversy.
Sowon began trending on Twitter in various countries, including the United States, as fans try to get through the company and the artist.