Korean Girl Group Member Becomes the Center of a Nationality Scandal

Cassie Kajai Xiong


Xi Yu Zhou, also known by her stage name Tzuyu (ju-i), was involved in a nationality scandal last November. Nearly three months into debut, she became the center of attention in the South Korean entertainment industry.

Tzuyu, 16, debuted joined JYP Entertainment, an entertainment company in South Korea. She became a member of a new girl group, Twice. The band is composed of group members from South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and the United States.

Twice debuted on October 20, 201, with their first mini-album, The Story Begins. Although very new, they were nominated for first place on South Korea’s music show, SBS Inkiagayo. the nomination is usually difficult to place since the competition between rookie groups are competitive.

For Tzuyu, the unthinkable has yet to come. A month after Twice’s debut, she held a flag that caused a political stir between China and Taiwan.

It started when Twice received a love call from My Little Television, a popular South Korean television show. When appearing on air, each group member held up their country’s flag. Tzuyu held the flag for the Republic of China instead of the People’s Republic of China. She was born and raised in Taiwan.

The People’s Republic of China represented China as a whole while the Republic of China represented Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu, and other outlying islands alongside the Chinese border. This act quickly escalated as there are current ongoing debates as to whether or not Taiwan should be recognized as an independent country.

To add fuel to the fire, China-based singer Huang An, accused Tzuyu on social media as being a traitor and a Taiwanese independence activist. Tzuyu also received countless insults and backlash from fans and citizens alike. As a result, many of Twice’s activities were canceled and/or suspended. Certain broadcasting stations like BTV also banned Twice from ever appearing again. In addition, this scandal hindered senior group activities from JYP Entertainment. For instance, 2PM, a South Korean boy band, had to cancel all activities in China following the incident.

On January 15, 2016 JYP Entertainment released a video of Tzuyu reading an apology letter for her actions. In the video, she states, “There is only one China. The two shores are one. I feel proud being a Chinese. I, as a Chinese, have hurt the company ad netizens’ emotions due to my words and actions during oversea promotions. I feel very, very sorry and guilty.”

The video received a total of four million views on YouTube the day after it was uploaded. In response, some Chinese viewers offered Tzuyu support and gave her encouragement. However, others still blame her and shaw her apology as unapologetic and insincere.

Taiwan offered support for the long singer. Their current president, Ma Ying Jeou siad, “She had done nothing wrong but was forced to apologize. I want to tell Ms. Chou she has no need to do so, we support her.”

Not only has news scattered across Asia but has internationally as well. The Washington Post, an American newspaper in Washington D.C., also gave their inputs to this political controversy.

About three days later, JYP Entertainment was accused of forcing Tzuyu to apologize for business matters. Denying all accusations, the National Human Rights Commission began investigating the issue in late January.

Matters seem unending for Tzuyu but has definitely settled among the citizens.