South Korea claims appropriation of traditional clothing at Beijing Olympics ceremony

South Korean politicians and activists have slammed what they have called China’s “cultural appropriation” after a woman appearing to be wearing traditional Korean attire appeared among representatives of China’s various ethnic groups at the ceremony. opening of the Beijing Winter Games on Friday.

China is home to around 2 million ethnic Koreans, half of whom live on the Chinese side of the border with North Korea, and they are a recognized minority group whose language and culture enjoy official protection.

South Koreans have expressed anger in the past over recent Chinese claims that certain aspects of Korean culture such as kimchi, a Korean side dish usually prepared with fermented cabbage, or a traditional Korean dress called hanbokare of Chinese origin.

“We deeply regret that the hanbok appears among the costumes of Chinese minorities at the opening ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics,” ruling party lawmaker Lee So-young wrote on her Facebook page on Saturday. reference to a woman wearing a white and pink top. dress among those who passed the Chinese flag during the ceremony.

“This is not the first time that China has introduced Korean culture as its own. … If the Korean people’s anti-China sentiment gets stronger by leaving this issue as it is, it will be a big obstacle when doing diplomacy with China in the future,” Lee said.

Visitors wear traditional hanbok dress as they walk on the grounds of Gyeongbokgung Palace after a snowfall in Seoul on January 17. | AFP-JIJI

Lee Jae-myung, the candidate of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea in the country’s presidential election in March, wrote on his Facebook page on Friday night: “Don’t covet (our) culture. Oppose cultural appropriation.

The main opposition People Power Party has called the costume’s appearance a ‘gross’ act of appropriating the culture of a sovereign state, which overshadows the Games’ slogan ‘Together for a shared future’. .

“We cannot remain angry, but let the world know the truth that hanbok is a traditional Korean costume,” wrote Seo Kyoung-duk, a professor at Sungshin Women’s University and an activist promoting South Korean culture. , on his Instagram account.

Although the South Korean government has not made an official statement, Culture Minister Hwang Hee told South Korean media on Saturday that referring to a population as a minority means they have not become a sovereign country, which could cause “misunderstanding” in bilateral relations, according to Yonhap.

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