Not sure when magazines are going to get the message: Myanmar really, really doesn’t like mixing fashion and religious sites.
Vogue Korea became the latest casualty over the weekend, when shots from a recent shoot at the ancient Buddhist temples of Bagan were posted to its Facebook page.
The images prompted outrage among Myanmar social media users, who pointed out that not only was posing at the religious site, home to thousands of centuries-old temples, inappropriate but one of the models was wearing shoes inside a pagoda.
Some commenters said they were happy to see Myanmar featured in an international publication, but the circumstances of the shoot posed problems.
“Dear Vogue Korea Team, Most of the photos are great,” wrote Nang Yae. “But I would like to suggest ur team to learn a little bit about culture and tradition of the places before taking fotos. All fotos are really unacceptable from a point of Myanmar people. Her facial expressions and body languages are not appropriate on the religious compound. Thanks for interest in Myanmar but do learn a little bit about them before using their heritage for commercial return. Thanks.”
Others were less diplomatic about it.
“Before taking a photo on Pagodas, you should learn our religion,” wrote Mone Kabar May. “We don’t like this photos (Fuck).”
Photographer Bosung Kim responded in the comment section, saying he he tried to place the model in the entrance to the pagoda, rather than inside.
“First of all, I do apologize to make this uncomfortable issue were happen,” he wrote. “I have to explain the situation. We were guided by certified Myanmarese location guide. As you see the other pictures, model were not wearing the shoes in pagoda. This is one of the entrance to the pagoda, where everyone put on, take off and left their shoes on this place. (Not outside the door, but inside where the model is standing in the picture.) So I considered model can put on her shoes here like local people do. I think my decision was wrong. However, Myself and all crews were aware of taking shoes off at the pagoda, also love and respect Myanmarese culture.”
Vogue Korea isn’t the first fashion magazine to get on the wrong side of Myanmar social media users. Last year, Vietnam Airlines was forced to withdraw all copies of their November issue of Heritage Fashion, after a shoot featuring a Shwedagon Pagoda print dress prompted outrage.
W Magazine, meanwhile, was mocked in 2014 for an orientalist editorial featuring model Edie Campbell frolicking with members of Myanmar’s ethnic minorities and monks.