Oli London is a British influencer known for getting multiple cosmetic surgeries (성형수술) to look like the vocalist Park Ji Min from BTS. They are under fire for a lot appropriation on the Korean culture but mainly saying that they identify as Korean and tweeting an alteration of the South Korean flag in rainbow (무지개) colors.
London has been a known figure in fan spaces around South Korean media and entertainment for years and is now an influencer with over 427,000 followers on TikTok and 28,600 subscribers (구독자) on YouTube (유튜브).
Oli London “identifies” as Korean?
In June 2021, Oli announced that they “identify as Korean” and uploaded a rainbow flag version of Korea’s national flag, the Taegeukgi that drew massive backlash online from Koreans both native and immigrants saying that they were disrespecting Korean identity and culture.
South Korea has a LGBT Flag?
Koreans are enraged because London's announcement that they identify as Korean “effectively trivializes their identities because they're suddenly ‘trendy'”. Many also criticized the rainbow reimagining that London posted as the Taegeukgi (태극기) has deep cultural meaning represented by its symbols and colours but Oli still claims that the flag they posted was “the official flag that all of the LGBT organizations the people of Korea use.”
News outlets then found out that the rainbow (무지개) flag was uploaded to Wikipedia (위키백과) under the title “Flag of South Korean LGBT” in 2014 but was publicly nominated for deletion on June 22 for “national offense to South Korea & defamation of flag .” Oli later posted a statement in response to the backlash, “Yes I identify as Korean. Yes I'm non-binary. Yes I look like Ji Min, but none of this should be a reason to outcast me from society, to dehumanize me and shame me for being who I am, a non-binary Korean person.”
Besides disrespecting another country’s national flag and changing their features to look Korean, Oli London has also been on fire by Koreans for claiming that they’re knowledgeable in the language (말) and culture (문화) by “educating” others on their tiktoks and youtube videos about Korea but to a lot of people it seems like they’re just being ignorant and mocking the culture.
“Oli feels strongly attached to Korea and the Korean culture and feels much more connected to this than their own culture.” Oli London’s manager (매니저) defends.
What do you think about Oli London? Is what they're doing considered appropriation and disrespectful towards Korea's culture?
Since we're on the topic of Oli London, check out our blog post on BTS Words Every ARMY Should Know!