The nine-dash line, a map drawn by the Chinese to claim sovereignty over the East Sea (South China Sea) has put BlackPink's concert in Hanoi at risk of cancellation.
|BlackPink performed in Los Angeles, the US, in November 2022 during their world tour. Photo: YG Entertainment|
The South Korean girl band will perform on July 29 and 30 in front of an audience of up to 100,000. They would be among the few bands to come to Vietnam in their prime.
Founded in 2016 and now in its seventh year, BlackPink has become one of the most respected Asian girl bands in the world, with its videos having been viewed billions of times.
The group, consisting of four female singers, has conquered many countries in Asia, and Vietnam is no exception. They are well received by thousands, if not millions, of local fans in the Southeast Asian country.
Vietnam has invited many bands to perform in the country. But most of them are "legendary" and their heyday was years ago. Some of the most famous names that have ever performed in Vietnam include German rock band Scorpions, disco band Boney-M, Westlife, 911 and Backstreet Boys.
BlackPink's concert may be ruined after Vietnamese netizens found out that the organizer, iME Entertainment Group Asia, displays the nine-dash line on its website.
The company's CEO, Brian Chow, said on July 6 that it has no registered domain name in Vietnam and only has a Facebook fan page.
The CEO said that the map was displayed on the company's regional website for Asia and that no website is currently being developed for the Vietnamese market.
"We recognize our obligation to respect the sovereignty and culture of all countries where iMe has a presence. iMe has quickly reviewed the website and is committed to replacing inappropriate images that hurt Vietnamese people," said Brian Chow, CEO of iMe.
|iME Entertainment Group Asia's website is inaccessible to users in Vietnam on July 7. Photo: Screenshot|
"The site map does not represent the territory of any country, and we are mindful of respecting the sovereignty and culture of all countries in which iMe is based," he said.
However, the apology does not seem to be enough, as the company's website is now inaccessible to Vietnamese users. Meanwhile, YG Entertainment, the management company of BlackPink, has not commented on the issue.
On the local media, Vietnamese readers have shown their anger at the way the two companies are handling the issue.
They consider the appearance of the nine-dash map as a slap in the face and a disrespect to the Vietnamese people. From their point of view, iME, as a Chinese company, should be aware of the problem, and so should BlackPink itself.
"An apology is not enough," and "our sovereignty must be respected," wrote Dao Trong Dat and Nguyen Thanh Trung in their comments on the online newspaper vnexpress.net.
"I was about to buy a ticket to the show, but in view of the nine-dash line map, I quit. I am a patriot," said Trang Pham. "BlackPink shows us no respect."
"Their apology is nothing but a bluff. The dashed line will reappear on their website for other countries," Ha Nguyen said.
On danviet.vn, most readers want the concert to be canceled.
"Our sovereignty must be above all, inviolable and sacred. No individual or musical group is greater than that," Nguyen Lan Anh said.
"If you still go to the show, it means you have already supported the nine-dash line map and the illegal territorial claim," Nam Du said.
"First, we should find a way and put pressure on the organizer to delete the nine-dash line map," lawyer Hoang Xuan Quang told The Hanoi Times.
"If it's impossible, then we can think about banning the show," he said.
"Vietnamese people should be very aware of our national sovereignty over the East Sea," Quang said.
Making smart choices
In fact, we can't just blame BlackPink for the incident. iME Entertainment Group Asia should be held responsible for the issue, commented Hoa Lan Anh on danviet.vn.
|A Vietnamese fan tries to buy tickets online for the BlackPink show on July 29-30. Photo: The Hanoi Times|
She advised people to be careful with their statements and that BlackPink would have no idea why they are being ignored in Vietnam.
"The BlackPink concert will definitely bring so much to Vietnam as the girls can help promote Vietnamese values and people to the world," Liem said.
"The organizer should be blamed for the incident, but don't be a blind patriot. Let the authorities investigate," he said.
In response to the issue, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism said the Vietnamese authorities are conducting further investigations and would provide more details soon.
"We can't ask people to blacklist the concert because it may violate international rules and agreements to which Vietnam is a party," lawyer Quang said.
"We need to raise public awareness of the problem and expect appropriate reactions and responses."
Despite the incidents, the BlackPink concert remains a major event in Vietnam. According to TicketBox, the ticket distributor for the show, almost all tickets, ranging from VND1.2 million (US$50.71) to VND9.8 million (US$414.11), are sold out.
So the concert may not be canceled after all.