Youtuber duo “DurianKimchi” today apologized to thousands of angry Internet users for making fun of the traditional Ngepan Iban dress days before the Gawai or harvest festival in Sarawak.
The apology comes a day after Muhammad Ryzal Ibrahim, the Malaysian half of the duo, shared a clip on Instagram in which he could be heard calling the embroidered Ngepan Iban dress a “dirty cloth” as his wife Maryam You Narae was putting it on. The clip caught the attention of a Twitter user, who reshared the offensive clip to at least 300,000 viewers.
“So this Malay guy who married a Korean lady had the audacity to insult the traditional Iban dress. This is not cultural appropriation, this is an insult,” the user, known as Fabian_Rossi21 on Twitter, said.
So mamat melayu yang kawin dengan minah korea tu have the audacity hina pakaian tradisi org iban
Ni dh bukan cultural appropriation ni dah menghina.Golongan ni yang still fikir org sarawak duduk atas pokok, pakai cawat and held back..Fuck you @ryzalibrahim pic.twitter.com/GmmNX2RXoh
— fabianrossi (@fabian_rossi21) May 26, 2021
In his apology, Ryzal noted that he was directing the comment to his wife. After which, Maryam shared a tearful apology in a separate post.
“To all Ibans, I am so sorry,” Ryzal said in a video today. “I understand that you are all hurt and angry at the insensitive joke I made… I was only making fun of my wife but this time, it went too far.”
“I am so sorry to all Iban people,” Maryam said.
The couple, popularly known as DurianKimchi to their over 400,000 YouTube subscribers, is known for sharing videos where they explore different cultures while taking jabs at their different languages. Ryzal’s native language is Malay while his wife, who is originally from South Korea, speaks mostly Korean.
In the offensive video, Ryzal was filming his wife putting on the traditional costume when he pointed out how it looked like “TV decor from the 70s” and “dirty cloth you’d put beside your washing machine.”
His comments prompted laughter off-camera. Maryam gave a weak defense against her husband, pointing out that the outfit was “handmade.”
Others who have reacted to the couple include beauty queen of Iban heritage Francisca Luhong James, who represented Malaysia in the recently concluded Miss Universe competition. In a lengthy post, she urged her 165,000 followers to avoid giving Ryzal the time of day.
“Well, it seems like he wants to get people [to] talk about him and follow him on social media… I think we better don’t… give him the attention that he [thirsts] for,” James, 25, wrote on Instagram, adding: “At least we are proud of our culture and heritage and I’m glad to see Sarawakians stand together… Focus on the harvest festival and enjoy with our loved ones.”
The Gawai festival starts Monday.
Other stories to check out:
Subscribe to The Coconuts Podcast for top trending news and pop culture from Southeast Asia and Hong Kong every Friday!