NewJeans‘ member Hanni is getting mixed reactions from Japanese netizens after referring to Japan as “Sushi Land” in a Tweet.
Recently, the NewJeans members went on a short summer trip to Japan with Min Hee Jin, the CEO of their label ADOR. The girls have been sharing the refreshing moments from their trip with fans on social media.
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The group’s Twitter account posted some pictures of Hanni from Japan with the caption, “Our short trip to sushi land.” Since the following hashtags mentioned Hanni’s name only, netizens presumed that it was posted by her.
Though fans mainly focused on the cute photos, some Japanese netizens were not happy with the phrase Hanni used to refer to their country. Some comments under the post read, “Is she deliberately using an insulting expression?”, “Just say Japan. Why are you calling it ‘Sushi Land’?”, “That’s so offensive.”, and “Sushi land? Don’t come to Japan ever.” One user hit back with a mocking response, “Welcome. I’m a Sushi man from Sushi Land. Hello, I came to Kimchi Land to make money.”
However, this criticism was met with many responses that didn’t find any issue with Hanni’s choice of words. After the issue started picking up pace on social media, a Japanese YouTuber started a poll asking if referring to Japan as “Sushi Land” was wrong. 82% of responses said they didn’t think it was offensive, while 18% thought it was.
Some also expressed their ambiguity about this term since Koreans use slang like “Sushi Girl” as a derogatory term to refer to Japanese women.
I didn’t think it was offensive at all. But then I saw there were no photos of sushi in the Twitter post and thought, ‘Huh, what was she trying to imply?’, since I know about the term ‘Sushi Girl.’
— The Tweet in the above photo
But given that Hanni is not a native Korean and is most unlikely to know such niche Korean lingo, it would be safe to assume that the idol never meant to use the term in that context. Apart from fans, many Japanese netizens also came to the NewJeans member’s defense, saying, “It wasn’t that controversial,” or “It’s just cute.”