Artist News Management & Funding

K-pop management firm denies forcing star to apologise over Taiwanese flag controversy

By | Published on Tuesday 19 January 2016

Chou Tzu-yu

South Korean artist management firm JYP Entertainment has denied forcing one of its artists to issue an apology after she was seen holding a Taiwanese flag.

Chou Tzu-yu, a member of the girl group Twice – who were created by a TV talent show last year – appeared holding a Taiwanese flag in an online broadcast by the group. The sixteen year old is Taiwanese herself, but the incident drew angry criticism from Chinese fans, who accused her of pushing a pro-Taiwanese independence agenda. The political and legal status of Taiwan is a long-running controversy, of course, and a major point of contention in the country’s politics, and in its relations with China.

In a statement last week, JYP said: “Chou was born in Taiwan and her relations with Taiwan are unbreakable. However, not all Taiwanese are pro-independence activists. Tzu-yu has never made any remarks in support of Taiwan independence and online rumours that she supports Taiwan independence are groundless. She understands the ‘one China’ principle and respects it”.

The matter is particularly controversial, as it occurred in the run up to elections in Taiwan. On the day of the vote, a video featuring Chou herself emerged, in which she said: “There is only one China. China and Taiwan are one piece. I’m proud to be Chinese. I sincerely apologise for my misbehaviour”.

Voters subsequently elected Tsai Ing-wen, a pro-independence politician and the country’s first female president. Many commentators have now speculated that anger around the controversy, and particularly the theory that Chou had been forced to apologise and speak of there being “only one China”, could have swung the election.

Attempting to distance itself from the continued controversy, JYP yesterday issued a new statement saying that it had not been involved with Chou’s apology, adding: “An individual’s conviction cannot [and] must not be forced by a company, and such a thing did not happen. After Tzu-yu’s parents came to South Korea and discussed [the matter] with Tzu-yu, they made a final decision and went ahead with announcing her position”.

Nevertheless, South Korean civil rights organisation The Centre For Multi-Cultural Korea has stated that it will request that the country’s government investigates whether or not the apology was coerced.