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Vietnam investigates BLACKPINK concert tour organizer’s website over presentation of South China Sea map

The much-awaited “Barbie” movie was banned in Vietnam because a particular scene in the movie reportedly features the “nine-dash line” that China uses in its claim of the South China Sea. However, just recently, Vietnam also started investigating the website of the tour organizer of K-Pop girl group BLACKPINK, ahead of the group’s Born Pink World Tour 2023 in Hanoi, Vietnam, following allegations that the website displayed a map of South China that violates the country’s territories. As a result, it sparked controversy and concerns, most especially from fans who call themselves “Blinks,” over the territorial dispute between Vietnam and China.

According to Vietnam’s culture ministry, the ordered investigation is being done to verify the current suspicions that the nine-dash line is being promoted by the organizers of the group. The ministry has yet to announce the findings.

It also hasn’t been helpful that the South Korean agency managing the group, YG Entertainment, is mum about the issue at hand. The Chinese organizer behind the tour, iME Entertainment, has also not made any statements about the issue. Unfortunately, this is not the first time that the organizer has faced controversy in relation to their tour in Vietnam. It had been reported before that the team have been accused of using photos of the Vietnamese naval ship that sank for their promotional video, which again, stirred public criticism.


Despite the website now inaccessible, Reuters was able to confirm that the website does show a vague nine-dash line encompassing the South China Sea through the website’s cached version. But as the investigation continues, Vietnam is highly likely to emphasize the crucial role of respecting the territorial sovereignty of the country and sensitivity to the South China dispute.

The 9-dash line row continues to be a serious issue in South East Asia, with the continuing territorial dispute over parts of the South China Sea between Vietnam and China as the latter continues to ignore the Hague ruling of 2016.

BLACKPINK is supposed to perform for the first time in Vietnam on July 29-30. But the controversies at hand may affect how fans will welcome the group. As one BLACKPINK fan wrote on Facebook, “Bought two tickets for me and my date. Then saw the cow-tongue [nine-dash line], and quit. I am [a] patriot.”

The controversy opened a wider debate on the impacts of cultural events with regard to sensitive political issues. Some argue that artists should be much more aware of existing issues when planning shows, while others believe that entertainment should be separated from politics.


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