Blackpink: K-pop group accused of “mismanaging” pandas after detaining newborn baby
K-pop girl group Blackpink has been accused of mishandling pandas after its members held a newborn baby in a reality TV episode.
The stars were seen touching three-month-old Fu Bao and an adult panda at a South Korean zoo in a one-minute trailer for their show.
The clip came out last week and sparked an immediate outcry in China, which is lending the pandas to South Korea.
South Korean group Blackpink has been criticized in China for petting a newborn panda
A trailer for the group’s TV show features one of its members cradling three-month-old Fu Bao
The episode was withdrawn after the accusations became fashionable in China. But Blackpink’s company insisted every precaution was taken to protect the pandas during filming.
Angry Chinese social media users claimed the group had violated panda protection guidelines for petting a bear cub.
They also slammed the celebrities for touching the adult panda while wearing makeup and not wearing gloves or face masks.
The reality TV episode was withdrawn after the accusations became a trending topic in China.
But Blackpink’s company insisted every precaution was taken to protect the pandas during filming.
The one-minute teaser features group members Jennie and Rosé crouching outside a cage to interact with an adult panda under the direction of an Everland Zoo employee.
The group faces backlash for their interaction with little Fu Bao. Pictured, Fu Bao made his public debut at Everland Amusement Park in Yongin, South Korea on November 4
Fu Bao, the first panda born in South Korea, was introduced to the public last week.
Fu Bao’s parents, Father Le Bao and mother Ai Bao, arrived in 2016 from the Chinese province of Sichuan, home of the giant pandas, as part of China’s “pandas diplomacy”.
The panda family lives at Everland Zoo in Yongin, a town near the South Korean capital, Seoul.
Blackpink posted the controversial footage to YouTube earlier this month to promote their show’s latest episode ‘24/365 with BLACKPINK‘.
The teaser features group members Jennie and Rosé crouching outside a cage to interact with an adult panda under the instructions of a zoo employee.
The two stars, who were not wearing gloves or face masks, were filmed touching the panda through the gaps in the metal bars.
Later in the video, the four members of the group, all wearing protective suits, gloves and face masks, met the little one.
A guard passes the baby panda to Jennie, who was instantly overwhelmed by her cuteness.
Full episode of the show has been postponed, according to Blackpink’s music label
While the trailer was presented in a fun and light-hearted manner, it drew waves of criticism on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter.
From Tuesday, the hashtag “South Korean celebrities broke the rules for touching a baby panda” has racked up more than 800 million views and 97,000 threads on Weibo.
A separate Weibo hashtag called “Blackpink broke the rules for touching a baby panda” also attracted over 68 million clicks and 55,000 comments.
Netizens argued that no one, other than professional animal groomers, should be allowed to come into close contact with newborn pandas.
They also claimed that singers could unknowingly transmit diseases to pandas by petting the animals without wearing gloves or masks.
Fu Bao’s father, Le Bao, and mother Ai Bao arrived in South Korea in 2016 from China. In the photo, Ai Bao happily rides through the snow at Everland in Yongin, South Korea on November 13, 2018
The China Wildlife Conservation Association claimed that the zoo violated professional requirements to protect pandas, according to CGTN, the English-speaking branch of the public broadcaster CCTV.
The full episode of the program, which was scheduled to air Nov. 7, has been postponed, according to Blackpink’s music label YG Entertainment.
However, the company defended the production.
“When BLACKPINK first met the baby panda, all members were wearing hygiene gloves, masks and protective clothing… hands and shoes were sanitized at each transition,” the agency said in a statement.
The hashtags “Blackpink” and “panda” were also trending on South Korean Twitter this weekend.
Some South Korean social media users have rebuffed Chinese criticism, urging South Korea to “return the pandas” or arguing that “the pandas are not ours and it is too expensive to breed them anyway” .
China typically rents its pandas to foreign countries as diplomatic gifts for a period of five years.
According to Beijing policy, all panda bear cubs on loan abroad belong to China and should return to the country.
Chinese netizens have called on the authorities to bring the panda Mei Xiang back to the country. The panda (pictured in February) arrived at Smithsonian National Zoological Park in 2000
The news comes two weeks after Chinese netizens accused a US zoo of “abusing” an elderly panda and urging Chinese authorities to “save” the bear by bringing it back to the country.
They alleged that the Smithsonian National Zoological Park in Washington, DC, regularly undernourished Mei Xiang, 22, the oldest panda in the United States, and abused her.
The zoo rejected the allegations online, noting that Mei Xiang eats a lot every day and is well taken care of by the guards.
WHAT IS CHINA’S “PANDA DIPLOMACY”?
Hsing-Hsing and Ling-Ling (pictured) were the first pair of giant pandas sent to the United States from China. They arrived in Washington, DC, in April 1972
Giant pandas are native to western and southwestern China.
They mainly live in the bamboo forests high up in the mountains of Sichuan Province and are used to cool weather.
China sent giant pandas to other countries as “diplomatic gifts” as early as the Tang Dynasty (618-907).
The country’s first female emperor, 7th-century Empress Wu Zetian, is said to have sent two pandas to Japan.
In modern times, the most famous case of “panda diplomacy” took place in 1972.
Then Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai gave two of these adorable animal ambassadors to the United States two months after Richard Nixon’s historic visit to Beijing to end 25 years of tension between the two nations.
The giant panda was removed from the endangered species list in 2016 by the International Union for Conservation of Nature after years of intensive conservation efforts by Chinese experts.
The last census in 2014 found that there were 1,864 wild pandas in the world, according to World Wildlife.