Weibo’s blowing up with patriotic anger, again.
At the center of the latest furore? Posters, seeking “social media influencers” placed around a University of Seoul dorm in South Korea.
The posters offended the sensibilities of Weibo user GLITTERIN_99 — who claims to be a female student at the university — by listing Hong Kong, Taiwan and China separately entities in soliciting applicants.
On her own mission to influence, the student has taken aim at the companies behind the job ads, Korean budget airline Jeju Air and K-Pal, a multimedia company partnering with the carrier that produces content targeted at foreigners living or studying in South Korea.
In a blast of content creation, GLITTERIN_99 posted a series of photos and screen grabs, showing her grievance scrawled across a posters.
Specifically: “both ‘Taiwanese’ and ‘Hong Kong people’ are CHINESE”.
The photos, and screengrabs of subsequent correspondence with K-Pal, have since been picked up by mainland, Taiwanese and local outlets including Ming Pao, Apple Daily, and hk01 and shared thousands of times online, generating heated exchanges.
Many mainland netizens, unsurprisingly, offered words of support, saying the student was “right to defend [their] rights” and resist being “bullied”.
“I admire your courage,” one commenter chimed in. “Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau belongs to us,” said another.
Some on the opposing side expressed more amusement than outrage.
“Thank you for making us laugh,” wrote one, while another noted the offended student had other options.
“She should immediately drop out of university and go back to the mainland if she really doesn’t like it”
The student, however, believes it no laughing matter, and demanded K-Pal amend the posters to correct what she called their “low-level mistake”, threatening to tear them down and take her complaint to the media and the Chinese embassy if the company declined.
“In the process of making posters, you made mistakes because of your ignorance, and I did not feel your respect for China,” the user wrote, claiming victimhood as a foreign student.
“As a Chinese I have the responsibility of defending the rights of China”
“Finally I hope you can respect every foreigner,” she wrote.
In reply, K-Pal refused to back down, demanding an apology for the “impolite language and threats” and threatening to report the student if she began ripping down the posters.
They explained that the ad listed Hong Kong, Taiwanese and Chinese applicants separately because they were listed separately on the Jeju Air website, a fact they underscored with their own screengrab of the “select language” drop down menu.
It’s hardly the first time such listings have caused outrage among Chinese netizens
In several cases, companies including Zara, Qantas, Marriott and Delta Air Lines have been forced to alter their websites and apologize to China in fear of losing valuable mainland business after being called for listing either Hong Kong or Taiwan, or both, as a separate country.
A similar backlash also hit the South Korean organizers for the Mnet Asian Music Awards (also known as MAMA).
The awards incurred the wrath of the Communist Youth League who called for a boycott of the awards after a screengrab of a page on MAMA’s website titled “state vote” listed Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan as separate entities.
CJ E&M, the entertainment company that organises the event, ended up taking down the page.