The organiser of a Blackpink concert in Hanoi has apologised after its website featured a map showing China's territorial claims in the South China Sea, prompting a backlash on social media.
|Blackpink Vietnam concert organiser apologises over S. China Sea map, Source: vtv.vn
K-pop megastar girl group Blackpink is due to host two concerts in the Vietnamese capital in late July.
News of the performance has generated a huge amount of excitement in the city, which rarely hosts big-name international artists.
But early this week, reports surfaced on social media saying iME, an event and entertainment company headquartered in Beijing, used a map on the front page of its website featuring the "nine-dash line".
China has long used the line to illustrate its expansive claims over most of the resource-rich South China Sea, often to the displeasure of Hanoi, which also claims parts of the waterway.
Some Facebook and TikTok users demanded a boycott of the concerts.
On the Blackpink Vietnam FC (fan club) Facebook page, one comment read: "In support of Vietnam, we'd better... not attend entertainment shows organised by iME."
Another read: "This concerns the territorial claim of a country. Although I like Blackpink, we should raise our voice."
On Thursday, a day before tickets were due to go on sale, Brian Chow, CEO of iME, said in a statement that the incident was an "unfortunate misunderstanding".
"The image of the map on the website does not represent the territory of any country and we are aware of respecting the sovereignty and culture of all the countries" where iME has a presence.
"IME quickly reviewed and committed to replace the images that are not suitable for Vietnamese," the statement added.
It also said it had sent a written explanation of the incident to the Hanoi department of culture and sports and other relevant authorities.
The apology came after Vietnam's ministry of culture and information said Wednesday it was starting "procedures to look into the incident".
During a regular press briefing on Thursday, ministry of foreign affairs spokesperson Pham Thu Hang admitted Blackpink's Vietnam show had become a "hot-button issue".
Earlier this week, Vietnam authorities said they had banned the upcoming "Barbie" movie from cinemas over scenes showing the same map.
"The promotion and usage of products or publications featuring the 'nine-dash line' in Vietnam is a violation of Vietnam's laws and is unacceptable," Hang said.
The South China Sea is home to valuable oil and gas deposits and shipping lanes, and several of China's neighbours have voiced concern that Beijing is seeking to expand its reach.
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