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South Korean girl band Kara has released their fifth mini album including its title track, Pandora. The band performed on the Korean music show, KBS Music Bank, on August 23, causing controversy among Korean people regarding their performance and gaudy outfits.
Being one of the most popular girl bands in both South Korea and Japan, Kara is often the center of attention on the Asian music scene. However, this time they are receiving a different type of attention, which may or may not be intentional.
Kara, which debuted in South Korea in 2007, consists of five members: Park Kyu-ri, Han Seung-yeon, Nicole, Koo Ha-ra, and Kang Ji-young. After winning huge popularity in Korea, they flew to Japan and released their first album in 2010. They quickly became popular, introducing Korean pop music to Japanese people. They were the first to do so as a girl band. Now, many popular K-Pop girl bands exist in Japan, such as Girl’s Generation, After School, or T-ara. But the success of Kara in Japan still bears a lot of meaning.
The recent controversy began when Kara released their music video “Pandora” to the public. In the video, all members wear swimsuit-like short jumpsuits under blazers. The nude-tone jumpsuit makes them look as if they were not wearing anything but brassieres under the blazer. The most controversial part of the music video happens when all members turn around, facing the back of the stage, and take off their blazers halfway, showing their almost naked backs.
Given Korea’s conservative and conformist social atmosphere, it was no surprise that Kara’s performance would cause controversy. Even before Kara’s comeback show was held at the KBS Music Bank, an official of the show said, “Since most viewers of the show are teenagers, the show might change Kara’s performance of outfits if it is thought to be too lascivious.”
However, Kara went ahead with the show, without changing their performance or outfits.
After the performance, many Korean social websites were heated by people’s mixed reactions. Some conservative viewers actively disagreed, saying “It just looked like a lingerie show. Was it necessary?” Meanwhile, others defended Kara, saying “What to wear and how to dance are all up to the artist. It is related to a freedom of expression. People should not blame them.”