Justin Bieber Apologizes After Visiting Controversial World War II Shrine

Story by James S. Kim. 

Pop star Justin Bieber isn’t exactly known for his cultural sensitivity, and on Wednesday, he added another reason for that reputation. During a visit to Tokyo, Japan, Bieber posted two photos on Instagram that showed him visiting a controversial World War II shrine, causing outrage among South Korean and Chinese netizens, as well as some lawmakers from those countries.

One photo showed Bieber praying in front of the Yasukuni Shrine, and another showed him posing with a priest. Bieber tweeted the photos with the caption, “Thank you for your blessings.”

Bieber quickly apologized and removed the photos after he came under fire from Chinese and South Korean fans, some of whom called for the singer to be banned from performing in their home countries and even demanding he be “run out of Asia” permanently, The Independent reports. On Instagram, Bieber said he did not realize what the shrine represented and was initially just struck by its beauty.

The singer explained that he had merely asked his driver to stop when he saw the “beautiful shrine.”

“I was mislead (sic) to think the shrines were only a place of prayer,” Bieber said in his post. “To anyone I have offended I am extremely sorry.”

Screen Shot 2014-04-24 at 1.45.13 PM

The Yasukuni Shrine honors Japanese soldiers killed in World War II, along with several war criminals. Visits by Japanese dignitaries over the years have strained relations between Japan and neighboring Asian countries, who view it as a symbol of Japan’s past militarism. Earlier this week, 150 Japanese lawmakers visited the shrine, and while Prime Minister Shinzo Abe did not come along, he made an offering to the shrine.

This story was originally published in iamkoream.com.

Justin Bieber’s Korean Tattoos Elicit Mixed Reactions

Story by Ruth Kim. 

Singer Justin Bieber has come a long way from the clean-cut Canadian 15-year-old who wooed teenage girls the world over. The pop star is declaring his bad boy reputation one tattoo after another, and his recent choice of inked art directly appeals to his Korean fans.

The Canadian singer avowed his love for Korea, posting on Instagram on March 25 a photo of his new Korea-inspired tattoo, accompanied with the caption “I love you Korea.” The image reveals a traditional Korean Hahoe mask tattooed in black ink, with his name inscribed below in Korean, 비버, which is pronounced “bee-buh.” Close enough.

Popular Toronto-based Korean tattooist, Seunghyun Jo, inked the tattoos for his fellow Canadian, and also shared a photo of the two on his Instagram. He said, “Thanks @justinbieber for inviting me to your studio! It was a long night of tattooing you but worth it! See you soon brotha you are crazy talented.”

Reactions from fans (and non-fans alike) were mixed. Obviously, hardcore Beliebers were unflinchingly supportive of their favorite pop star, leaving a slew of positive comments on his Twitter and Instagramaccount, like “I love you” and “obsessed”. South Korean fans, especially, are enthusiastic; one Korean Instagrammer commented, “omo yesss South Korea all the way man!”

However, more negative remarks are mixed in, with some fans disapproving of his tattoo spree, pleading him to stop. Others insult the singer, saying he is nowhere near Asian pop star level.

One disgruntled reader writes, “Ugh, gosh. I bet he’s just doing that because everyone knows that kpop is going to be the next big thing around the world and he’s trying to get on the korean’s good side so he can get “positive comments” about him and all that crap.”

They continue, “비버…more like 바보”, the latter phrase translating to “stupid” in Korean. Positive and negative comments aside, let’s be honest—the Canadian pop star had that particular play on words coming.

Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 4.48.20 PM Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 4.48.29 PM Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 4.48.39 PM

This story was originally published on iamkoream.com.