SEOUL, Oct. 21 (Korea Bizwire) — Japanese fashion retailer Uniqlo is coming back to strengthen its presence in the South Korean market after a setback caused by the boycott movement against Japanese products that began last July.
Uniqlo’s new commercial, however, has rekindled controversy following complaints that the ad made fun of Japanese sex slaves.
Following the boycott movement, Uniqlo closed four stores in South Korea before opening three new stores between August and September. The company also reopened two original stores following renovations.
Uniqlo plans to hold a seminar for job seekers this month as it prepares to hire new employees next year.
This time, a new program has been set up to connect job seekers directly with Uniqlo staff, which is seen as a strategic move to recover its reputation in the country.
Uniqlo has also been offering a 50 percent discount for some of its signature products since October 3 to celebrate the 15th anniversary of Uniqlo Korea, which is being seen as an unprecedented move even for Uniqlo that has been offering various discounts on a regular basis.
Uniqlo’s new English advertisement, however, has sparked outrage among South Koreans, placing the company at the mercy of South Korean consumers yet again.
In the commercial, a teenager asks a 98-year-old lady what she wore when she was her age, to which the old lady answers “I can’t remember that far back.”
The Korean subtitles, however, say “My God, how can I remember something that happened more than 80 years ago?”
The commercial became an instant controversy among South Koreans, with many seeing the subtitles expressed as being scornful of the 1930’s, which was about 80 years ago, when the Japanese empire forced Koreans into military service and sex slavery.
Uniqlo denied all of the allegations, but soon decided to take down the commercial altogether.
As a response, Yoon Dong-hyun, a student from Chonnam National University, shot a video clip with Yang Geum-deok, a sex slave victim, imitating the Uniqlo commercial.
In the video, Yoon asks Yang how difficult her life was when she was his age. Yang answers “I can never forget the horrible pain that I suffered back then.”
“The video clip was made to tell Japan how it must have felt for the victims during those times,” said Yun.
H. M. Kang (firstname.lastname@example.org)