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aespa's Ningning draws ire from Korean netizens after appearing to cheer for China's controversial gold at Winter Olympics

The Chinese idol is aespa's maknae (Image via Instagram/aespa_official)
The Chinese idol is aespa's maknae (Image via Instagram/aespa_official)
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Tuba Waqar

aespa’s Ningning was recently under public scrutiny after many criticized the idol’s apparent decision to cheer for China's short track speed skating team, after they won their first gold medal at the Olympics.

The aespa maknae is from Harbin, the capital of China’s northernmost province. While the idol’s support of her home nation is not unexpected, several Korean netizens were left upset amidst claims that the Chinese competitor used unfair tactics to win the prestigious medal, defeating the Korean athlete.


China and South Korea locked heads at the ongoing Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics

The currently ongoing Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics started on February 2022. While the eagerly awaited tournament was shrouded in controversies right from the start, several athletes have also claimed that the Games’ referees have awarded undeserved penalties to Chinese athletes.

Among those who spoke out was South Korean skater Kwak Yoon-gy. According to the athlete, that the Chinese team had cheated in the race. The Korean athlete claimed that one of the runners on the relay team did not touch the next player properly. While other teams were docked points for similar actions, China was allegedly let go scot free. The Chinese team eventually went on to win the gold.


aespa's Ningning is originally from China

While the rest of South Korea was left fuming at this turn of events, aespa’s Ningning congratulated the Chinese gold medalists for their win on the platform DearU Bubble. Not long after, however, Ningning deleted the post, possibly given the controversial victory.

Korean netizens did not miss the post, with several stating that they had already “screen captured” it. Many shared excerpts on the social media platform, The Qoo.

While some were understanding of Ningning’s decision to show support for her home country, several Korean netizens were left upset, especially since China’s victory came at the loss of their own country’s. The fact that the idol supported the Chinese team despite their alleged use of unfair means also did not go down well with fans.

@aesPAKed at least read the room? chn cheated to win the gold and these c idols applauded that? chn claims the kimchi saying its their food and hanbok as their traditional clothes. and then these c idols showing solidarity for that. you think knetz won’t be angry?
look at this clown? so you support vile sinph0bic comments knetz did to ningning when all she did was support her country BEFORE that cheating incident? just say you’re xenoph0bic & go dysfunctional bih twitter.com/woochancult/st…

However, contrary to what most Korean netizens believe, Ningning did not congratulate only the Chinese athletes. Ningning's post was also put up two days before the alleged cheating incident took place:

ningning message was 3 days ago and cheating situation was yesterday. twitter.com/instiz_twt/sta… https://t.co/oJV0mvBUgm

While she expressed excitement at China’s victory, the aespa member's full post states:

"Wow, I heard that China received it's first medal tonight, I'm happy. My homeroom teacher just informed me that the two Olympic champions are alumni, which is an honor. All of our athletes are so amazing. While watching the Olympic Games, I think the athletes from all countries are amazing and have worked so hard. Way to go!! All the people on Earth are one family."

As is evident from the posts, the idol extended her congratulatory post to all athletes, not just the Chinese. However, the additional information did not stop the backlash, forcing aespa fans to come out in full support of the member.

i apologize in advance for the woman i’ll become if SM dont do anything to protect ningning from these disgusting mfs
ningning's messages were sent days ago & she got hate for it then too. knetz are looking for reasons to hate her when the real reason is solely because she's chinese
MYs and Ningmengs! Kindly help us in mass emailing SM to protect Ningning against the harassment she’s facing especially right now.You can find the email template below🖇 docs.google.com/document/d/1yk…Also make sure to put your own sentence by the end so it wouldn’t count as spam
I don’t get it why ningning cannot celebrate for the gold that belongs to her country like I just don’t understand why. Wtf in those knetizens’ heads 😅😅😅🤬 twitter.com/npomvtt/status…
The situation of NingNing is so hard for her. If she make clear that the bubble messages are not about the recent trouble, she'll get hate from her country. Wish this situation will pass and everything will be okay with NingNing 💜
@aespa_official Theqoo released only part of bubble screenshots. Ningning not only congratulated China, but also said that all athletes are very hard in the following bubble content, and said that "everyone on earth is one family". Her words are very sincere, without any deeper meaning.#NINGNING
@instiz_twt Please understand, there is no place for politics in the Olympics!The homeland of Ningning is China, she has every right to support them. she also wrote in bubble that all athletes from all over the world are amazing and have done a great job. ⬇️
everyone let’s please fill ningning’s bubble hashtag with good messages!! people have twisted her words and now they think that she supports cheating and are sending her sinophobic messages & asking her to leave the group!use these hashtags (remove the .)#.닝닝버블 #.닝깅이에게 https://t.co/DM8jxGVo8V

Prior to her debut with aespa in 2020, Ningning had participated in many singing programs in China, including China's Got Talent Season 2 in March 2011 and China's New Sound Generation in July 2015.


Edited by Siddharth Satish
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