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Uniqlo ad sparks protests and parody in S. Korea

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published 3 weeks ago - Duration: 01:44s

Uniqlo ad sparks protests and parody in S. Korea

A commercial by Japanese clothing brand Uniqlo has stirred a consumer backlash in South Korea amid accusations that it mocks victims of wartime forced labor and brothel workers, reopening deep wounds from Japan's colonial past.

Francesca Lynagh reports.

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Uniqlo ad sparks protests and parody in S. Korea

A commercial by Japanese clothing brand Uniqlo has caused uproar in South Korea.

Critics say it mocks victims of wartime forced labor and brothel workers - reopening deep wounds from Japan's colonial past.

In the advert, Iris Apfel, a 97-year-old American style icon, appears in an animated conversation with 12-year-old fashion designer Kheris Rogers.

When Rogers asks how she used to dress as a teenager, Apfel said: "I can't remember that far back!" But instead of a literal translation, the line that aired in the South Korean version was subtitled as: "Gosh!

How can I remember something that goes back 80 years?" It's sparked protests and calls for Uniqlo to apologize.

(SOUNDBITE) (Korean) 43-YEAR-OLD SOUTH KOREAN RESIDENT, LEE JA-YEON, SAYING: "They are looking down on Korea.

They are making jokes and being sarcastic when they should really be reflecting on what they did wrong.

We can't let this keep happening.

We have to stop buying Japanese goods and continue to do so with pride until Japan reflects on its wrongs.

A South Korean student created this, now viral, parody advert in response.

In it, the student asks a 90-year-old woman who had been a forced laborer for Japan's Mitsubishi during World War Two how hard it was for her when she was young, to which she replies by saying "I can never forget that awfully painful memory.'' Uniqlo pulled the ad in South Korea on Saturday (October 19) and a company official told Reuters there were never any intention to touch on the issue of comfort women or the South Korea-Japan dispute.

"Comfort women" is a euphemism for girls and women, many of them Korean, who were forced to work in Japan's wartime brothels.

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