Internet users have reacted strongly against a South Korean television presenter who said on air it was “lucky” that only Chinese people had died in Saturday’s Asiana Airlines plane accident.
“It’s been reported that two Chinese people, not Koreans, were killed in the plane crash,” said Yoon Kyeong-min, a reporter for South Korean network Channel A during a Saturday broadcast. “If we look at it from our point of view, this is lucky.”
The comment sparked controversy amongst Korean audiences right after it aired, reported the Global Times citing the Korean Economic Daily. Korean netizens lashed out at Yoon and called the remark “inhuman”.
“What will Chinese people do if they see this broadcast?” several commentators asked. They said that referring to the incident as “lucky” was inexcusable, especially considering the young ages of the Chinese victims.
Sina Weibo reactions to news of the broadcast, which went viral on Sunday and Monday, were equally scathing.
“They need to issue an apology to the Chinese public!” one Weibo user wrote. “And they must apologise to the families of the victims!”
Others were more sympathetic and said that the comment had probably been an off-hand remark that was now being taken out of context.
“Let’s look at this from a different perspective,” one poster wrote. “If it had been a Chinese airline and two passengers had died, would we rather that they be Korean [foreigners] or our own countrymen? This is all that the broadcaster meant.”
Responding to the media outcry, Channel A issued an official statement regarding the remark on Sunday, Joongang Daily reported.
"We apologise that we did not report the news smoothly during the live broadcast of the Asiana Airlines crash,” the statement read. “[We] would like to note that when we said it was fortunate in our case that there were no Koreans among those killed, it was a simply a comment for emphasis. We apologise to our viewers.”
Channel A is a broadcasting company owned by Dong-a Llbo, one of South Korea’s leading newspapers. Many of the company’s recent broadcasts have revolved around the Asiana Airlines plane disaster, a tragedy for one of South Korea’s major airlines that has claimed the lives of two 16-year-old Chinese students. Investigations into the cause of the accident are still ongoing.
Additional reporting by Christy Choi and Olivia Rosenman.