Life-size pillows of K-Pop group GFriend cause concern in South Korea
Merchandise to promote upcoming concert is pulled amid fears that people would do more than just ‘hug’ the pillows
By Ko Dong-hwan
Goods that are tribute to K-pop girl band GFriend have angered fans because the objects can apparently be used as sex toys.
The life-size pillows, 180 centimetres long and 60 centimetres wide with a full body image of each member colour-printed on top, are the source of the controversy. People criticised the goods for encouraging fans to hug the objects and perhaps do more than just hugging them.
Source Music released the products on December 29 ahead of the band’s first exclusive concert on January 6-7 at Olympic Park in Songpa-gu, Seoul. They were introduced on the band’s social network site with hashtags “#GFRIEND 1st Concert 2018” and “#Season_of_GFRIEND.”
Each object in the six-piece package costs 60,000 won (US$56). They were among 25 new products including cheering wands and shopping bags. The goods are worth a total of 1 million won.
Fans said online that the objects reminded them of Japanese “dakimakura” pillows and were close to being sexual merchandise. Fans said on the band’s social network site that they would not buy the items. Some fans used strong languages. The boycott movement carries the hashtag “#GFRIEND_goods_not buying.”
Source Music said online it had decided to withdraw the products from sale.
Goods have become a new barometer of popularity among K-pop fans _ and stars know that, too. When fans of rival bands compete in selling goods and some groupies overheat the market with provocative comments, celebrities sometimes become the victims of public criticism.
The goods can also be an indicator of healthy fandom. K-pop boy band BTS and its agency Big Hit Entertainment donated earnings from sales of the band’s goods through the LOVE MYSELF charity campaign, in conjunction with UNICEF.
“K-pop bands’ social responsibilities have become bigger than before,” a music business analyst said. “And fans should create goods that support their images. Competitive selling of the goods and their use in good ways must be considered.”