K-pop idols Jay Park, Tiger JK, 2ne1's CL, GOT7's Mark and more show support for Black Lives Matter movement

The South Korean entertainment industry, which has often faced criticism for appropriating black culture, is being praised for finally raising their voice in solidarity with the movement


                            K-pop idols Jay Park, Tiger JK, 2ne1's CL, GOT7's Mark and more show support for Black Lives Matter movement
Jay Park, Tiger JK, 2ne1's CL and GOT7's Mark (Getty Images)

As more and more celebrities and influencers share their support for the Black Lives Matter movement, South Korean idols have also been taking a stand and lending their voice in solidarity. There has been considerable scrutiny over the last few years on K-pop idols owing to the industry very rapidly becoming internationally recognized.

By extension, their use of black culture has often been called out for being cultural appropriation, particularly when many K-pop artistes have remained largely silent when it came to the BLM movement. The recent wave of protests appears to have shifted something within the K-pop world, however, as many South Korean entertainers have begun voicing their solidarity with BLM, including participating in #BlackOutTuesday, which sought to amplify black voices by calling for a blackout on entertainment industries worldwide.

Jay Park attends 2019 Roc Nation THE BRUNCH on February 9, 2019, in Los Angeles, California (Getty Images)

The first wave of support from the South Korean industry came from Asian-American artistes. Rapper Jay Park donated $10,000 towards the movement, in addition to consistently raising awareness on police brutality and racism. In one post he stated, "Sick of making posts like this and sick of the same sh*t happening over and over again. Me being inspired by black culture aside me having black homies aside just as a man and a human being.. to think how helpless he felt and how inhumane he was treated... to think what if that was my dad, or uncle or homie makes me sick to my stomach."

He continued, "Countless INNOCENT UNARMED ppl losing their lives and nobody taking responsibility or being held accountable. Ppl who are supposed to protect and keep the public safe don’t even have the common sense or compassion to know if they are killing somebody innocent? Police Departments and Ppl in position of power not doing anything to provoke change.. all of it makes me sick... the whole system is corrupt... and nobody wants to admit it cause they are all afraid of taking responsibility for countless years of unjust inhumane treatment."

"Can't even begin to fathom how fed up the black community is with so many years of abuse. I Pray to God the truth prevails and i Pray to God ppl who have compassion and empathy are put into a place of power and authority and ppl who abuse their power for their own greed and ego and to feel superior all disappear. Same for the civilians abusing their privilege calling the police and LYING. Act like some F*ckin human beings and may God have mercy on ur souls. #RIPGEORGEFLOYD," he added.

Park's H1GHR Music hip-hop label also followed suit, choosing to delay new releases in honor of the blackout, stating, "H1GHR Music wishes for a world where all people are treated equally." Many H1GHR artistes have also expressed solidarity with BLM, including pH-1, also expressed their solidarity.

Jessi attends Republic Records Grammy After Party at 1 Hotel West Hollywood on January 26, 2020 in West Hollywood, California (Getty Images)

Fellow Korean-American rapper Tiger JK, who was one of the first artistes to popularize African-American hip hop in South Korea has continued to raise awareness around the George Floyd protests, urging his followers to educate themselves on the BLM protests and stating racial violence and police brutality are human rights issues. He additionally pointed out that black culture served as an inspiration for Korean artistes, and they had a duty to show solidarity. Jessi, another Korean-American rapper, also showed solidarity through multiple stories in addition to calling for people to unite.

Singer Eric Nam stated, "It does not matter what color your skin is, this affects you. RACISM IS NOT DEAD. George and Ahmaud are just two of the countless number of black men and women who have lost their lives senselessly. sign the petitions, raise your voice, and do what you can. #BlackLivesMatter." GOT7's Mark Tuan also participated in raising awareness, sharing that he donated $7000 to the George Floyd Memorial Fund and tweeting, "Stay stong, stay safe," along with a link listing the various ways people can lend their support to the cause.

With international Korean artistes leading the way, more idols are speaking out boldly, standing in solidarity with BLM and firmly declaring they owe the black community after having drawn inspiration from them for decades. 

2NE1 poses for photographs on the red carpet of the MTV Video Music Awards Japan 2012 at Makuhari Messe on June 23, 2012 in Chiba, Japan (Getty Images)

2ne1's CL shared a statement that read, "‘The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill’ was the first album my dad bought me. Beyonce’s “DANGEROUSLY IN LOVE” was the first CD I bought for myself. Janet Jackson taught me the power of movement of dance and expression. Missy Elliott is why I am so obsessed with my video visuals. Lil Kim was one of Fashion’s pioneers that taught me how to be fearless in how I tell stories through clothes…Aaliyah is the reason why I still wear baggy pants and combat boots on stage. During the rare moments of me being at karaoke, my friends saw me sing (but actually screaming) nonononoWAY by Whitney Houston. It ends with no mo drama by MJB. Some of the biggest inspirations for 2NE1 were DESTINY’s CHILD and TLC."

She continued, "These are just some of the examples of the core women who have inspired me over the years. Artists, directors, writers, dancers, designers, producers, stylists in the K-pop industry are all inspired by black culture whether they acknowledge it or not. I would like to encourage all the K-pop fans to give back and show their love and support for all that we have received from Black artists."

"I want to explain to all the K-pop fans, fellow Asians, and non-Americans who feel like they have little or no connection to what’s happening that we are all connected at the end of the day. And don’t we, Asians living abroad, also face enough racism to the point where we are numb and sick of it? We must stand up together as one helping them fight for justice. It’s never too late. Let’s send them love and support by caring, elevating black voices, educating ourselves, and bringing awareness to people around you," she added. She additionally asked her followers to sign the Color of Change petition.

Girl group MOMOLAND attends the 8th Gaon Chart K-Pop Awards on January 23, 2019 in Seoul, South Korea (Getty Images)

R&B singer Crush shared, "Many artists and people around the world get so much inspiration by black culture and music including me. We have a duty to respect every race." Many other idols, including DAY6's Jae, have also donated to the cause, with many more including Red Velvet's Yeri, SNSD's Tiffany, KARD's BM and Jiwoo, B.A.P.'s Zelo, U-Kiss' Kevin, members of Momoland, soloists Lee Hi, Dean, and AleXa, and many others sharing links on how to support the BLM protests and affirming their commitment to fighting racism.

Despite being a highly marginalized community themselves, K-pop's LGBTQIA++ members are also showing solidarity for BLM, with the first openly gay Korean idol Holland sharing multiple educational posts in English and Korean and helping raise awareness on the what happened in the case of George Floyd as well as how his followers can lend their support to the cause.

As K-pop stans continue to block far-right groups on Twitter and more K-pop acts stand in solidarity with the protests, it appears the South Korean entertainment world is finally making their voice in the battle against racism and police brutality heard.