Block B’s Thai Controversy

Attention: If the petition to get Block B to disband is making you mad, then you can sign this petition to keep them together. It currently has 8740 signatures. See it here.

As many of you know already, Block B has been heavily criticized for an interview they had in Thailand. People have been going so far as to say they’re killing the Hallyu wave.

At first I was going to just let it pass. I didn’t feel it would be that serious… or I mean, at least not as serious as the Big Bang controversies this past year… so I wasn’t going to write an article on it. Plus, I just didn’t have enough information to make any judgments about it. I can’t rely on just bits and pieces of an interview!

However, even after a few days, Allkpop is still writing new articles about it and there is supposedly a petition going around telling Block B to disband. If they had been a more established group, they would be able to take a hiatus, but since they’re rookies, that would be the same as disbanding. When their company made a comment about the situation, they said “As a rookie group, to suspend activities only after two weeks of its comeback is the same thing as a death sentence.”. I think it’s okay for them to keep promoting because of this reason. I think they can grow from this so there’s no reason for them to just give up their group. They’re still young… I mean, Zico is still just a teenager.

I’ll cover some of this for those who haven’t heard about it yet.

There has been massive flooding over in Thailand since the summer of 2011. Supposedly, during the interview, not only was Block B acting kind of obnoxious and rude, (like usual btw), but they treated the flooding issue lightly.

Not something to take lightly….

…unless you’re Thai. [Don’t get offended; I think it’s great people in Thailand can still keep their humor :)

Here is the interview:

According to the translation on Allkpop, “At the 12:32 mark, the interviewer brought up the crisis, to which Zico replied, “I know that many people have it hard due to the flood. With this monetary aid, we hope that you will feel better. The only thing we have is money.” To this, another member chimed in, asking how much money Zico had, to which the leader answered, “About 7000 won?” which is roughly $6 USD. The other members laughed again.” 

Thai fans got very upset. Nichkhun from 2PM, who is part Thai, and two other 2PM members (Junho and Chansung) tweeted about how Block B upset them. Nichkun simply said “As a Thai, I’m offended by those who talk about the flooding in Thailand without thinking. If you come to Thailand, rather than acting without thinking, please respect this country and only behave with a proper attitude.


This caused anti-fans and angered netizens to lash out at Block B even more… even going so far as to send death threats to Zico. Nichkhun quickly realized what he had started and tweeted another tweet telling people to stop going so far. (“Please, don’t say things like ‘wish someone would die’ but hope they would learn. Like we all do, like I did from my own mistakes.”)

But by then the damage had already been done. As a result, a lot of Block B fans are angry at Nichkhun and 2PM. (Personally, I find it ironic that they can forgive Block B, but not Nichkhun, who, in my opinion, was justified in feeling upset since it was the country he grew up in and probably didn’t think about what he was doing, just like Block B themselves). Dongho from U-Kiss eventually joined in too, making a sarcastic tweet about the “7 won” quote from Zico; “Singer worth 7,000 Won ($6)“, though he deleted it and posted an apology when he heard some criticisms about it.

Everyone in Block B apologized, [you can read them here], and when that wasn’t enough, Zico even shaved his head. (Shaving your head/cutting your hair can be a significant thing in Asian countries. I think it came from Buddhist traditions as Siddhartha cut his hair on his path to enlightenment; monks shave their heads. In Japan when a samurai’s hair was cut, it was a really humiliating thing. Also in Japan, people might shave their heads as an apology or cut hair after a break up. In South Korea, shaving your head usually means you’re going into the army. Therefore, shaving your head or cutting your hair in Asia can signify a change in character or a big change in your life.)

Zico’s shaved head.

When even that wasn’t enough, they released a video of them apologizing as well, however even with that some Thai antis are saying it’s fake and they’re just acting. In my opinion, I think the amount of antis in Thailand are about the same as antis in any country. That is, there probably aren’t as many as you might think. The haters just like to speak up more. I bet the majority are just neutral on the matter, so we shouldn’t be so worried. After time, it’ll blow over. (Oh, I also find it ironic how the haters/antis are acting worse than Block B ever did. They’re so angry Block B was disrespectful, yet I’ve seen a lot of horrible language and threats from the haters.)

Anyway, since then, Zico’s big brother, Taewoon, has retweeted a link to his Twitter that gives the script of the whole, uncut interview. [See it here] The text is from the original tweet (seolhee96) and basically says this article just came out and they’re really happy about it.

The link Taewoon re-tweeted takes us here.

Here is an image of the alleged uncut interview:

Here is  a translation done by the Block B International forum:

INTERPRETER: Tomorrow’s event will be, in a sense, a showcase for the sake of charity.
ZICO: Charity?
INTERPRETER: Charity, charity.
ZICO: Ah a donation.
KYUNG: Oh really? Ah~ so I’ve been doing something good.
INTERPRETER: Yes… What do you think about that?
KYUNG: It’s great.
ZICO: Tell us about the donations you usually make.
KYUNG: Normally, every month I take 200,000 won from my account. (US$180)
INTERPRETER: Where does it go?
KYUNG: To kids in Africa.. yes. Because donating is helping, I think making donations is something indispensable in life, and even when we succeed later on I’d like to donate half of all that I have.
INTERPRETER/OTHER MEMBERS: Half of all your fortune? You said that clearly. Oh~ Oh~
KYUNG: No no, half of my salary. For one month, one month.
ZICO: What~ If it’s going to be half of what you receive in one month, then in 3 months at most _______(T/N: Here the interpreter cuts to the next question and you cannot hear what Zico said which made Kyung laugh.)
INTERPRETER: Would you happen to know that there were floods in Thailand?
ZICO: Yes, we know it..
KYUNG: Yes of course we know about it.
INTERPRETER: This is for the benefit of the victims of those damages.
ZICO: Ei of course we do, we know it. We think that everyone must have suffered greatly due to the floods, and we hope that this monetary compensation can help them recover. We have nothing but money…
KYUNG: How much did you say you have this time?
ZICO: Huh?
KYUNG: How much did you say you have this time?
ZICO: Me? 7,000… won… thereabouts? (US$6)



Someone has also translated this portion of the video, if you need to see their expressions and nuances:

So, as you can see, they may have appeared insensitive to the situation, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as the original internet articles made it out to be. Zico never said he would only donate 7 won. He just said he only had 7 won in his pocket at that moment in answer to Kyung. Zico looked serious about it, whether Kyung was trying to make a joke or not. I think Zico meant he wanted to help Thailand even though he didn’t have much money for himself. You also get the feeling the interpreter was kind of joking along with them, as she laughs a lot too, which says something about the vibe of the place where they were being interviewed.

Of course, they should have been more sensitive no matter what, but look at how their company handles Block B. I’m pretty sure they haven’t really had any training on how to speak diplomatically. Other groups are usually trained in speaking and manners, but we’ve all known from the start that Block B has always been allowed to just act like normal kids, and I could see any college-aged boys acting the way they did in the same situation. It could be that they just weren’t mature enough to realize the seriousness of it, or they were just uncomfortable with the seriousness and so they goofed off in their awkwardness.

In my opinion, while some of them are at fault, their company is also to blame. As well as the media for blowing it out of proportion. Apparently even the main media was saying crazy things that had no true basis about it, such as blaming Block B for Thailand companies cutting trade off with Korean companies and such. Basically the news that should be unbiased and reliable was instead creating rumors with no sources.

Their company has acknowledged their part in this situation and has apologized with: “The fault lies largely on the company for not teaching the idols correctly. Even though it is late, we will work on the areas where they lack the most, such as their music, their attitude and the way they view the world. We will work our best to support the idols so issues like this will not happen again.

As for people being mad at them for laying on tables and generally goofing off… then why did they even like Block B in the first place? Nobody was talking about the floods at all during that time and Block B is always playing around like that no matter where they are. They weren’t disrespecting Thailand by acting rude… they were just hyper from being excited and happy like they are even in Korea. Yes, since it was another country/culture they should’ve toned it down, but like I said before, their company just didn’t teach them properly for the situation.

Block B trolling in Japan.

I just hope that after all this blows over, (which I’m sure it will), that Block B will be able to continue being free-spirited, though maybe a bit more mature when needed to be.


4 thoughts on “Block B’s Thai Controversy

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