YouTuber sparks storm in China for liking comment calling Kimchi Korean dish

A popular South Korean YouTuber has come under fire for contributing to an online dispute over the origins of kimchi, a side dish of salted and fermented vegetables.

YouTuber Hamzy posts videos of herself eating large quantities of food — an emerging genre popularly referred to as mukbang. 

In one of her recent videos where she was eating the Korean dish octopus bibimbap, along with some white kimchi, she allegedly ‘liked’ comments that suggested China had wrongly claimed Kimchi as its own, South China Morning Post reported. 

Overnight, the content creator lost tens of thousands of followers and Suxian Advertising, the Shanghai-based agency that represented her, terminated their contract. Currently, Hamzy has over 5.35 million subscribers on YouTube. 

“We are firmly against any action that insults China and do not allow any foreign bloggers we signed contracts with to have any attitude or comments that insult China,” the agency said in an online notice. 

Several Chinese social media users accused her of making anti-China comments and insulting their sentiments. Following the backlash, Hamzy apologised to her Chinese audience during a livestream. In the video she explained that she had liked the comments on purpose, and had simply clicked the button without reading what was written. 

Asking people for their forgiveness, she said she hoped people would eventually forgive her. But many of her Chinese fans were still upset. “I feel sorry that I ever liked you,” one user wrote, according to SCMP. “Nothing comes before loyalty to my country. I will not call you names, because I did once like you, but this is goodbye.” 

The Kimchi controversy dates back to January 9, when popular Chinese YouTube Li Ziqi shared a video in which she made the pickled vegetarian dish. She added the tags ‘ChineseCuisine’ and ‘ChineseFood’ to the video, which immediately sparked a storm on social media.

Her South Korean fans accused her of appropriating their culture, while her Chinese followers defended her and sparred with her critics.  

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