K-pop star Jay Park received a mixed reaction from Chinese netizens and rappers when it was announced he will be joining China’s biggest hip-hop reality show as a judge. The Rap of China , which is often credited for helping rap go mainstream in China, has racked up billions of views on iQiyi, one of China’s largest video streaming services, since its inaugural season in 2017. Blackpink to Wonho – this week’s biggest K-pop headlines wrapped Park, who was born in Seattle in the US but is based in South Korea’s capital Seoul, is the show’s first non-Chinese judge, joining a cast of five judges including Chinese pop stars Kris Wu and Jane Zhang . The announcement on Monday instantly went viral, receiving more than 200 million hits within a few days on Chinese social media platform Weibo. However, not all online commentary was positive as some criticised the show for inviting a foreign judge who cannot speak Chinese. “Now they are inviting a bangzi that doesn’t understand Chinese, and a bunch of people will have to serve him as Korean and English translators, how despicable,” one netizen wrote, using a racist Chinese term for Koreans. Now going into its fourth season, The Rap of China has always demanded that contestants, Chinese or foreign, rap in Mandarin as much as possible. In the past, contestants were eliminated for rapping too much in English or Cantonese. K-pop's Jay Park on his Black Lives Matter advocacy The controversial hiring comes only a few years after one of the worst years in relations between China and South Korea. In June 2016, after the South Korean government installed an anti-missile defence system that Beijing said would allow the US to spy on Chinese territory, a popular boycott against South Korean goods was launched. Anti-Korean sentiment exploded on Chinese social media at the time and travelling to South Korea was widely condemned as unpatriotic. Concerts by popular K-pop groups also failed to secure permission from authorities across the mainland. However, other netizens pointed out that The Rap of China imitated many elements of South Korean rap show Show Me The Money that first aired in 2012 and also featured Park, whose full Korean name is Park Jae-beom, as a celebrity judge. “Park Jae-beom is American OK? Don’t open your mouth and just say bangzi every time … this show originally was just a copy of Show Me The Money ,” said one comment on the Weibo announcement. Like fellow judge Wu, who rose to fame as part of hit K-pop boy band Exo , Park entered show business as a member of K-pop boy band 2PM in 2008 but left a year later after negative comments he wrote about Korea were publicised by South Korean media. Since then he has rebranded himself as a rapper and built a successful career, traversing the Korean and American music industries with melodic flows and rhymes in both languages. In August 2017, he became the first Asian-American to sign with Jay-Z’s entertainment agency Roc Nation. The outcome of the competition won’t be affected by Park because that is decided well in advance Beijing-based rapper Xie Qin Park’s star power prompted some to reflect on how China’s rap scene compared to its Korean counterpart. “The first thing I thought when I saw this go viral was, even if you wait another 100 years, Chinese rap will never catch up with South Korean rap,” wrote one netizen on Weibo. But Park’s impressive résumé has riled fans of Chinese-Canadian pop star Kris Wu, whose Chinese name is Wu Yifan. A staple of The Rap of China , having been a judge since season one, he has nevertheless been mocked online for his generous use of autotune – software that corrects off-key vocals to sound like a person is singing with perfect pitch – and what many deem to be below-average rap skills. As a result, posts with the hashtag about Park joining the show have been flooded by legions of Wu fans posting “looking forward to Wu Yifan”, in hopes of refocusing the spotlight back on their idol instead of the Korean-American rapper. According to Xie Qin, a Beijing-based rapper, iQiyi brought Park onto the show to draw his huge fan base from South Korea to the series. “But the outcome of the competition won’t be affected by Park because that is decided well in advance,” said Xie, who previously auditioned for The Rap of China . “I can understand if netizens complain about the language barrier, not the nationalism,” she added. The rap show has not addressed concerns about language barriers. If anything, it has even suggested that Park might take a stab at communicating in Mandarin. On Wednesday, the rap show released a promo video performed by the five celebrity judges to promote the upcoming season. Jay Park rapped his verse almost entirely in Mandarin, surprising many. Responses on social media were mostly positive, with many praising Park for the effort. Others, however, poked fun at the rapper’s unusual pronunciation. On Thursday, Ma Siwei from Chinese rap group Higher Brothers uploaded a short clip onto video-sharing platform Douyin where he imitates Park’s accent as he repeats one of his Mandarin lines in the promo: “Do you want to become a rap star?” How Park navigates the language barrier will become clear later today, when the first episode of the new season is broadcast. The 33-year-old will also have to navigate China’s censorship of on-screen tattoos. Park is known for his extensive body art, covering one half of his upper body, his hands and his neck, raising concerns among some netizens. One comment read: “Are you going to blur his entire body except his head?” In the promo video released on Wednesday, Park’s tattoos had been edited out.