Lady Gaga is in Tokyo. According to her, it's her "favorite place." Too bad she's just pissed off some folks online in Japan.
On her Instagram account, Lady Gaga uploaded two photos of herself wearing a colorful outfit with Korean characters written on it. The Korean characters 컬러 appear mean just that: color. Innocuous stuff, right? Well...
There's already a thread on 2ch, Japan's largest online forum, titled "Lady Gaga, Who's Visiting Japan, Is Wandering Around Roppongi in Clothes with Korean Characters. This Proves That From the White Person's Point of View, Japan and Korea are the Same." Yikes!
While it seems like a small faux pas, this story will probably spread around to numerous Japanese blogs and websites. Her real Japanese fans, however, probably won't care.
Here are some, certainly not all, of the comments on 2ch:
"She thinks South Korea and Japan are the same."
"Wearing clothes with Korean characters and sauntering about Roppongi is giving hate to Japan."
"Did Japan do something to her?"
"Get outta here, you shitty white person."
"Is she trying to pick a fight with a Japanese person? lol"
"Yep, just a dumb American."
"This kind of makes me not like her."
"It can't be helped. But it's a little sad she' can recognize Japanese."
"Well, I have no clue about the difference between the U.S. and the U.K."
"Certainly looks like between Japan and South Korea, Gaga likes Korea more."
"Her songs are great. Truly great."
"Make no mistake, when Gaga is in South Korea, she'll wear clothes with Japanese and the Rising Sun!"
"She probably just thinks those characters are a symbol. No biggie."
"Waaah. This certainly makes her less cool."
"You net users are something else!"
Um... There's a lot to unpack here! First, yes, 2ch tends to bend a bit conservative, so know that. Also, Japan and South Korea are not on the best of terms right now, so a foreigner decked in out in Korean letters actually might ruffle some feathers—the same might be true if Gaga wore Japanese characters in South Korea. Who knows. Maybe, maybe not. Though, Korean television did recently ban a Kpop group from using Japanese.
And finally, people in Japan don't want to be confused with people in Korea—and Korean people don't want to be confused with Japanese people. They are different countries! With different cultures and traditions. Obviously, an outfit like this can unintentionally give the impression that one thinks all Asians are the same.
This was probably unintentional. An honest mistake. I'm sure Lady Gaga is well aware that both South Korea and Japan are entirely different countries. With the way relations between the two countries have been wound up of late, a little bit more care might be needed.