K-pop group GFRIEND leader Sowon’s photos with Nazi mannequin earn ire of netizens

K-pop girl group GFRIEND’s leader Sowon has earned the ire of netizens after she uploaded photos with a Nazi mannequin. 

Two Instagram photos showed Sowon hugging and adoring a mannequin dressed in Nazi uniform. She quickly deleted the photos but the post already created a firestorm among netizens. 

The photos were taken at Cafe Gallery Zino Francescatti (named after a French violinist), or Zino cafe, located in Paju, Gyeonggi Province in South Korea. The cafe has a European design and Nazi mannequins are part of the decoration. 

Zino cafe was used as a location for GFRIEND’s Comeback Show for their fourth studio album “Walpurgis Night” that was released on Nov. 9 last year. It was also used as a location for the hit drama “Goblin.” 

As the controversy escalated, GFRIEND’s label, Source Music, which was acquired by Big Hit Entertainment in 2019, issued an apology on Feb. 1. 

“We would like to offer a sincere apology for the issues caused by video clips from the behind-the-scenes footage of GFRIEND's comeback show as well as photographs uploaded by GFRIEND member Sowon,” the label said. 

It explained that “last November, a production company employed by the broadcast network shooting video footage for a new album release comeback show rented a cafe located in Paju, Gyeonggi-do for the production. Our staff on-site took behind-the-scenes footage as well as a number of photographs for posting on artist social media.”

“Staff members tasked with reviewing the site on the day of the shoot failed to realize that there were serious issues with the clothing and props on the mannequins. Subsequently, internal reviews and discussions also did not recognize these issues before the behind-the-scenes clips (December 12) and photographs (January 31) were uploaded,” Source Music said. 

The label said, “We would like to apologize for failing to recognize prior to the shoot that there were inappropriate props located on the premises, neglecting to carry out a careful review of the footage and photographs before uploading them, and failing to maintain sufficient awareness of issues with vast historical and social implications.”

“The relevant sections of the video footage have been edited. The artist herself immediately deleted the photographs after being aware of what the images contain. She is feeling a profound sense of responsibility and deep regret for having uploaded the photographs,” according to the label. 

Source Music promised “we will strive to make ourselves more aware of the fact that the content we create and share affects a wide audience. We will exercise vigilance to ensure we are fully aware of historical and social issues and their impact. Please allow us to once again offer our sincerest apology to everyone to whom we caused pain and distress by the videos and photographs.”