K-pop star Allen Ma, a member of the boy band Cravity, apologized on Friday for comments he made during a BuzzFeed interview about cultural appropriation in the world of K-pop.
“I am here to relate all my apologies to all LUVITY and K-pop fans who might have felt offended and hurt,” Ma wrote in a message on the Universe app.
(All members of Cravity, whose fans call themselves "Luvity," are listed as having accounts on Universe, an app popular with K-pop fans. Different screenshots of Ma's messages were subsequently shared on other social media websites. A publicist for the group would not comment about the posts.)
During an interview last week with BuzzFeed’s K-pop newsletter, Daebak Weekly, the Cravity members opened up about their first full-length album, Part 1 [The Awakening: Written in the Stars], and talked about their thoughts on the K-pop industry as rising stars in the field.
When asked what K-pop means to them, Ma, a Taiwanese American rapper, stated, “To me, K-pop is like a giant melting pot consisting of a wide spectrum spanning from genres of music to the style of clothing and dance.”
He added, “It’s also inclusive in a way how it brings together and appreciates — not appropriates — many different cultures and people from all kinds of backgrounds.”
His comments denying K-pop appropriates other cultures sparked backlash among many fans, who felt Ma was failing to recognize K-pop’s prevalent history of appropriating Black culture and aesthetics.
The cultural appropriation by idols has often led to fan wars and racism online.
On Friday morning, some of the group's fans posted a screenshotted message from Allen addressing his comments and apologizing for the phrasing of his answer.
The rapper said his answer was “narrow-minded and came out of ignorance.”
“I by no means had ill intent to undermine those whom may have already been hurt due to cultural appropriation in K-pop when I expressed my thoughts,” he wrote. “I merely wanted to highlight the claim that K-pop is an inclusive community with huge impact on a global scale.”
Reactions to Ma’s apology have been split. Some fans came to the Cravity member’s defense and praised the speed of his apology.
“[South Korean entertainment company] Starship [Entertainment] never makes the boys apologize for anything so this is a big step,” one fan tweeted in support of Allen’s message.
However, others said it was important to hear from K-pop fans who felt their cultures have been appropriated by their idols. Many also pointed to Ma being raised in the United States, arguing this meant he should have been more cognizant of the cultural appropriation.
But many fans also said it was important to hold their favorite celebrities accountable, showing how the efforts of those who called out Cravity have resulted in better communication between the idols and those who want to support them.
“LUVITYs needed to talk to him and I’m glad they did because we’re like friends, I’d like to think so,” one fan wrote. “In the future, if one of the members makes a similar mistake, please do tell them, educate them, please don’t ignore it.”
You can read the original interview with Cravity here.
Ikran Dahir contributed reporting to this story.