[DEBATE] Girls’ Generation’s Tiffany, a National Enemy or an Innocent Victim?


It appears as if veteran girl group Girls Generation’s Stephanie ‘Tiffany’ Young Hwang, has transformed from one of the most loved KPop idols to the “National Enemy” overnight.

It all started with Tiffany posting two seemingly innocent pictures on her Instagram and Snapchat accounts respectively when she was present at the SM TOWN Live World Tour V at the Tokyo Dome with the rest of Girls’ Generation and other SM Entertainment musical acts.

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Tiffany uploaded two photos on her Instagram and Snapchat accounts featuring Japanese flags

Although they seemed harmless, Koreans were outraged about the Japanese flags present in them. This lead to the beginning of an aggressive nationwide condemnation of Tiffany, the reason being her use of the Japanese flags a day before Korea’s National Liberation Day, a day celebrating Korea’s freedom from Japanese rule during World War II.

South Koreans found Tiffany’s use of the Japanese flags to be insensitive even if her intentions were not to cause strife. To prevent any more damage, the singer quickly uploaded a lengthy handwritten apology on her Instagram.
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Tiffany uploaded a lengthy handwritten apology on her Instagram in response to the initial wave of backlash
Unfortunately, the damage had been done, and Tiffany suffered for it by being mocked on national television, being dropped as a model for a cosmetics brand she had been endorsing for three years, and being forcibly removed from Unnies’ Slam Dunk, a variety show of which she was a permanent cast member.

Starting with the incident of the singer being mocked on national television, it happened during the August 17 broadcast of MBN news show, News Fighter. News anchor Kim Myungjoon sarcastically brought up the controversy, stating, “How did you enjoy the special National Liberation Day films that were aired on television? First up, National Liberation Day special film Breakfast at Tiffany’s. You’re asking when did Breakfast at Tiffany’s air on television? It did air. [I’m talking about] the rising sun flag controversy that Girls’ Generation’s Tiffany caused on the morning of Liberation Day. She gifted us a truly upsetting morning.”

In addition, Kim also brought up the controversy when reporting about South Korea’s loss to Japan in the semifinals of the women’s doubles in badminton at the 2016 Olympics by saying “Congratulations Tiffany!” at the end, insinuating that Tiffany was supporting the Japanese women’s badminton team over South Korea’s, and that she was somehow responsible for the team’s loss.


Following the broadcast, the community forum for the show blew up with demands for an apology from Kim, asking “if he’s lost his mind”, and saying that Japan’s victory in badminton has nothing to do with Tiffany.

However, MBN stood firm in its direction. A source from the network stated, “While the expressions may have been harsh, the show is one with a satirical tone, which is participated in by the PD, writer, and anchor. We have no intention to apologize or change the report, although there will be further discussion regarding the matter.”

Currently, reruns of the segment are not showing the closing statement in which anchor Kim Myungjoon congratulates Tiffany for Japan’s victory. However, the singer has yet to receive an official apology from the network.

Another upsetting incident arose when cosmetics brand IPKN announced that Tiffany had been dropped as the face of the label. The singer had been endorsing the brand for well over three years.

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I  Tiffany had been the face of cosmetics brand IPKN for three years before she was dropped following the recent controversy

On August 17, IPKN revealed the image below, letting viewers know another endorsement model would soon be taking Tiffany’s place. Many assumed that the Girls’ Generation member was forced to step down from the position following the controversy.

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Cosmetics brand IPKN revealed that they had begun shooting for promotions with their new replacement model

However, the brand officially spoke up about the matter, telling media, “The change in endorsement model is not due to Tiffany’s situation. Her contract expired, and we selected a new model a month ago. Filming with the new model started last month. The change and controversy’s timing is coincidental.”

Following this, Korean netizens’ demands for Tiffany’s forcible removal from Unnies’ Slam Dunk (also known as Sister’s Slam Dunk) fell through. KBS released a statement on her removal, stating,  “The producers and Tiffany’s agency SM Entertainment discussed her recent issue involving the Rising Sun Flag on the National Liberation Day of Korea on August 15. After meeting, we agreed the controversy affected citizen sentiment and decided on Tiffany’s leave from the show.”

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The cast of Unnies’ Slam Dunk (L to R: Tiffany, Jessi, Min Hyorin, Hong Jinkyung, Ra Miran, Kim Sook)
Tiffany was forcibly removed from the show upon public demand

The producers of Unnies’ Slam Dunk also revealed that the remaining members on the show — Kim Sook, Jessi, Ra Miran, Min Hyorin, and Hong Jinkyung — would continue as a five-member group. They also made it known that no additional cast member would be added to replace Tiffany.

The topic of the singer’s removal from the show was raised on Womad, an online community for women that focuses on gender inequality. The site claimed that Tiffany received a surprising amount of criticism and a quick follow-up to her actions because of her gender. Posts on the site explained, “Tiffany is receiving much more damage because she is a woman. If a male celebrity did the same thing, the events would not have flowed out the same way it is now.” The comments continued, stating, “Korea is much more severe to female celebrities.”

Womad was not the only voice questioning Tiffany’s removal. Songwriter Oh Jieun also took to Twitter to express her opinions, saying, “Why was Tiffany kicked off the show? If a male idol did the same thing, they would not have been kicked out this quickly.”

Oh Jieun continued, saying, “This makes me wonder if they are so quick to cut women from their jobs. What kind of atmosphere is this. It’s as if they view Tiffany as a civil servant. If celebrities are civil servants, give us a pension. And tenure too.”

In addition to all of these incidents, former Girls Generation member and current solo artist and businesswoman Jessica also seemingly took a dig at Tiffany in her recent Snapchat photo and this led to netizens speculating about bad blood between the two former group members.

The photo shows Jessica taking a selfie wearing a white blouse and black slacks. Netizens were interested in the fact that the photo featured a filter that says “Hi! Seoul” in Korean as well as “I♥SEOUL.”

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Former Girls’ Generation member Jessica seemingly poked fun of Tiffany’s controversy by uploading a Snapchat image featuring an “I Love Seoul” filter

Netizen comments about Jessica’s photo included “Shots fired,” “Their relationship must not be good,” “Wow, killing her twice,” and more. Some brought up past instances where bad blood was speculated as well.

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Jessica (L) and Tiffany (R) performing as a part of Girls’ Generation before the former’s forcible removal from the group in October 2014

However, other netizens have disregarded the speculations of bad blood and said, “Just a coincidence,” “It’s just making an issue out of nothing,” and more.

This controversy has led to Tiffany’s sudden fall from grace in the KPop world. The singer was having a great year, with the highlights including becoming a permanent cast member of KBS‘ new all-female variety show “Unnies’ Slam Dunk”, and her successful solo debut with the EP, “I Just Wanna Dance”, promoted by the hit title track of the same name.

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Tiffany had a successful solo debut in May of this year with the release of her EP, “I Just Wanna Dance”, promoted by the hit title track of the same name

Do you think Tiffany’s fall from grace is justified? Is she really a “National Enemy”? Or is she just a misunderstood innocent victim? What is your opinion?


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