|Singer Hong Ja waves toward the camera at TV Chosun's "Ms. Trot" live concert at Mapo-gu, Seoul, in this April 25 file photo. / Korea Times file|
By Jung Hae-myoung
"Trot" singer Hong Ja has been facing criticism for her reckless remarks that unintendedly stereotyped people in the nation's southwestern Jeolla region.
She thanked the audience for attending the Danoje Festival in the southwestern Yeonggwang County on June 7 to see her perform.
The way she expressed her gratitude, however, has caused a stir because of her poor choice of words.
"I thank you everyone for showing up here for me. Now I understand why (singer Song) Ga-in cried during her performance in the Gyeongsang region," she said. "Before this stage, I thought Jeolla people might have horns, teeth like animals and have their toenails where their fingernails would be."
Her figurative description indicates that she felt pressure about performing in the region, which has a rivalry with her hometown Ulsan in the southeastern part of the country.
Hong and Song Ga-in are two singers who rose to stardom through cable network TV Chosun's music survival show "Ms. Trot for Tomorrow." Song is from the Jeolla region, which has had a rivalry with the nation's southeastern Gyeongsang region for decades.
Hong was mentioning Song's past interview in which she said she had a hard time when some internet users attacked her just because she was from the southwestern part of the nation and for her strong southwestern accent. However, Song went on to say she was impressed when the Gyeongsang people gave her a warm welcome when she performed there and made her cry.
Hong's performance streamed live on YouTube.
Her candid expression about Jeolla people yielded an unintended result with some internet users expressing fury over her remarks.
Some blamed her for her "inappropriate" description of people in the Jeolla region, claiming she was reckless and her remarks were an insult.
Facing mounting criticism, Hong offered an apology.
"I am deeply sorry for making so many people upset due to my inappropriate behavior," she said in a statement released Tuesday.
"This is my fault without doubt, and I truly apologize to the people who were disappointed because of the reckless language I used. I deeply regret my behavior and will try to show a better self and use considerate language."
But her statement did little to assuage the criticism about her.
Some people made comments on her apology post saying "show your better self in Gyeongsang," and "Don't think of coming back to Jeolla."
Hong also wrote a post on her online fan cafe early Tuesday morning.
"I have no words to explain my behavior. I did not mean it that way but things went," she wrote. She said she will leave the past mistake and stand back up again.
In "Ms. Trot for Tomorrow," which aired its last episode in March, Hong and Song were depicted as rivals from the rival regions ― Hong from Ulsan and Song from Jeolla. The show received positive reviews from the public.