The fermented cabbage dish known as kimchi continues yet again to be a source of ferment and agitation between South Korea and China. This time, a popular South Korean YouTuber was fired by her Chinese agency after maintaining that the dish is in fact a Korean food.
The cultural clash this time was triggered by an innocent video "like."
Hamzy is a South Korean YouTuber that live-streams herself while binge eating, a popular trend in South Korea called mukbang. Last Jan. 15, Hamzy, who has over 5 million subscribers, uploaded a video of her eating a “Super Spicy Octopus Bibimpap” that features white kimchi and fried eggs. Yum, right? Anyway.
Someone left a comment on the story saying, “‘It’s really disappointing coz these days China says that Ssam is theirs too.” Ssam means “wrapped” in Korean and refers to the way of wrapping pieces of meat in leafy vegetables with kimchi. Hamzy apparently liked the comment, which then sent Chinese netizens into a fit as a number took it offensively and left hateful comments on her channel.
Her Chinese agency, which handles her promotion in the mainland, went so far as apologizing. Hamzy also did a live video to apologize.
But the hate did not stop so Hamzy posted a note on YouTube where she said her pressing “like” on the comment did not mean anything.
“If Chinese subscribers feel offended and betrayed because I appeared to approve the comment by pressing the ‘like’ button, then I apologize,” said Hamzy.
But even after the string of apologies, Hamzy said that her Chinese agency decided to cancel her contract.
She maintained that her “opinion that Ssam and Kimchi are traditional Korean food and does not change.”
“If I have to call traditional Korean food as a Chinese food only to work in China, then I would not work in China. Same can apply to Chinese people, they should not call a Chinese food a Korean food to work in Korea,” she said. “That I am sure Chinese people can understand well.”