SEOUL • Kim Jae Hwan of South Korean boyband Wanna One got caught up in a controversy over his alleged use of a derogatory word for African-Americans during MBC's music show Show Champion.
But YMC Entertainment, the agency of the band formed on the hit television show Produce 101, said: "We believe it was simply a misunderstanding that occurred among the international fans in the process of listening to and understanding the Korean language."
Kim appeared on Show Champion last Wednesday and introduced himself by rapping: "Yo, naega wasseo", which means "Yo, I'm here".
The rap plays on the Korean expression "wasseo" and the English expression "what's up".
But some international fans thought it sounded like he had used the N-word.
A Twitter user posted a video clip of Kim's rap, saying: "so this is kim jaehwan of wanna one saying 'n-----' that show champion tried to hide."
The claim caused a stir among international fans, with another Twitter user saying, "omg he def said it... this boy needs to be careful."
South Korean fans tried to resolve the misunderstanding and soothe angry international fans by explaining Kim's rap.
Some countered the claims of racism by saying non-Koreans were disrespecting the Korean language.
A Twitter user said: "You guys should accept the difference of language... This is 'racism' because you guys don't respect our culture."
KOREA HERALD/ASIA NEWS NETWORK