Seoul (The Korea Herald/Asia News Network) - The relatively unknown K-pop girl group Pritz are hitting the headlines for the first time, but it is not their music that is grabbing all the attention.
New to the K-pop scene, the foursome are already facing negative publicity, after being criticised for performing in what many netizens are referring to as "Nazi-like costumes".
Earlier this month the members of Pritz held a short outdoor performance at a local Korean horserace track in which the girls showed off their latest costume design - all-black collared shirts with red armbands that include a white-filled circle and black X-like symbol. The armbands have an undeniably striking resemblance to the Hakenkreuz, the red, black and white swastika symbol that was used by the German Nazi Party, and it has sparked much outrage online.
Officials from Pritz's managing agency, Pandagram, publicly responded to the ongoing online frenzy stating that the thought had "never even occurred to us". According to the agency, the girl's armbands were not in any way modelled on the Hakenkreuz. Rather, the logo was meant to resemble a speed-limit traffic sign.
The group's bands show a four-way arrow, resembling an "x", and the agency said in a statement that the arrowheads pointing in opposite directions were intended to signify the group's "desires to expand and grow without limitations".
Most netizens' reactions seemed negative. Many blasted the agency and the group for their lack of common knowledge of world history, with some calling it a "national embarrassment".
"I'm shocked that they actually responded by saying they didn't expect this controversy," said one netizen. "Is their company full of people who never studied history?"
On the other hand, some online commenters went so far as to suggest that it was a publicity gimmick to get Pritz noticed.
"Anyone can look at it and see Nazi written all over it," a netizen wrote. "This is such a pathetic excuse. They obviously did this for the marketing noise...absolutely disgusting."
Due to the immense backlash from online communities, Pandagram officials stated that they were considering making alterations to the girls' costumes.
Pritz, consisting of members Ari, Yuna, Suya and Hana, made their K-pop debut in April with the single, Go Girls!, hardly creating any ripples. They soon released a number of follow-up singles including their latest release, Sora Sora, which dropped on Nov 13.
Due to the recent controversy involving the girls' costumes, Pritz's agency announced that it is delaying the release of the group's upcoming Sora Sora music video, in which the girls were filmed wearing the "Nazi-like" outfits. Members of the girl's agency are currently in the process of editing out parts of the footage and are expected to release the edited version of the music video on Tuesday.