Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) might want to send a note of thanks to a 16-year-old K-pop star for inadvertently helping party candidate Tsai Ing-wen score a big win in the presidential election over the weekend.
According to media reports, many Taiwan voters, especially the younger ones, made up their minds to vote for Tsai — instead of the ruling Kuomintang’s Eric Chu — after they saw on Friday a video clip featuring Chou Tzu-yu, a Taiwanese member of South Korean female pop group Twice.
In the video clip that was posted online, Chou is seen declaring that she is a “Chinese” and that she regrets holding a Taiwan flag while appearing on a South Korean entertainment show late last year.
The video and her remarks led to speculation in Taiwan that Chou was forced into making the apology by her South Korean management firm, JYP Entertainment, in order to soothe the feelings of Chinese fans who had been upset at the Taiwan flag-waving incident.
Angry at the perceived pressure brought on the teen pop star by pro-Beijing forces, many youth decided to cast their votes for the independence-leaning DPP.
Some observers feel the video clip benefited the DPP in the same way as a shooting attempt on former DPP leader Chen Shui-bian in 2004 won him sympathy and helped him get re-elected for a second term, Apple Daily reported.
In the clip released by JYP Entertainment, Chou, who was dressed in a black turtleneck sweater and standing against a gray wall, is seen bowing and saying that she owes a belated apology for waving the Taiwan flag.
“There is only one China,” she says. “The two sides of the strait are one, and I have always felt proud to be Chinese. I feel extremely apologetic to my company and to Internet friends on both sides of the strait for the hurt that I have caused, and I also feel very guilty.”
“I have decided that I will… go through some serious reflection,” she added.
The controversial clip came after Taiwan-born pro-China singer Huang An, who has lived in Beijing for many years, reported to Chinese authorities that Chou waved the flag of the Republic of China (Taiwan) during a South Korean variety show last year.
That prompted mainland netizens to accuse the pop star of promoting Taiwanese independence, which has been a very sensitive subject in Taiwan, especially during elections.
But now the Chou apology incident has angered many Taiwan voters and pushed them to vote for the opposition DPP as the ruling KMT has failed to speak up adequately over the incident.
Although Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed that it did convey the government’s stance on the incident to its South Korean counterpart, and despite President Ma Ying-jeou saying before the election that there was no need for Chou to apologize, Tsai and other DDP candidates for legislature were clearly the biggest beneficiaries of the incident.
Headline Daily reported Monday that there has been speculation that Chou has been hospitalized following the taping of the apology, but JYP Entertainment has not confirmed that.
Chou’s mother told the media that she hopes the whole matter will settle down as soon as possible so that her daughter can resume her show activities.
Some Taiwanese netizens, meanwhile, have called for an “Anti-Huang An” rally on Jan. 24. As for Huang, he said that he will hold a press conference in Taiwan on Feb. 3 and make his case regarding the controversy.
A spokesman for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said on Saturday that Beijing has been encouraging cross-strait exchanges between young people, but some politicians in Taiwan are trying to use individual incidents to instigate hostility between the two sides.
– Contact us at [email protected]