Following the recent world tour announcement from the American pop-rock band Maroon 5, Koreans have been expressing concern regarding “the disrespect” done by a poster design on Maroon 5’s official website.
Maroon 5 revealed the band will begin touring in Quebec City, Canada in July and travel to Asia to perform in Singapore, Korea, Japan, the Philippines, and Thailand. The South Korea leg of the tour is scheduled for November 30, at the Gocheok Sky Dome—a beloved home to many K-Pop idol concerts.
Upon visiting Maroon 5’s official website and other social media platforms, however, Koreans pointed out the “rising sun flag” design used in the world tour poster and criticized the band for using a symbol “associated with Japan’s wartime atrocities.”
Koreans—as well as other Asian countries impacted by Japan’s militarism and imperialism—have long been comparing the Japanese rising sun flag/design to the Nazi swastika, as the Japanese imperial navy used the flag in the early 20th century when Japan colonized South Korea.
While Japan continues to use the rising sun flag, South Korea and other Asian countries have been pushing for a full ban on the flag. As Professor Alexis Dudden of the University of Connecticut put it, the flag “is part of a collective effort to cleanse the history of imperial Japan’s aggression during the second world war.”
At present, the flag is flown by the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, and an eight-ray version is flown by the Japan Self-Defense Forces and the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force. The rising sun design is also seen in numerous scenes in daily life in Japan, such as in fishermen’s banners hoisted to signify large catches of fish, flags to celebrate childbirth, and flags for seasonal festivities.
The criticism continues to grow also because this is not the first time Maroon 5 has faced backlash from Koreans over the rising sun flag design. Back in 2012, Maroon 5 used a rising sun flag in the “One More Night” music video.
Then, in 2019, Maroon 5’s keyboardist Jesse Carmichael got himself involved in an online feud between Sean Lennon defending the flag and Koreans feeling offended. For “siding with Lennon,” the member and Maroon 5 both took heat from their Korean fans-turned-haters.
Koreans have flocked to online communities and discussed potentially boycotting the Seoul performance by the band.
- “They’re still doing this? LOL. NOT GOING.”
- “Geez… I’ll have to stop listening to their songs.”
- “Clicked to see what’s up… That’s DEFINITELY a rising sun flag.”
- “What’s wrong with them, seriously?”
- “Let’s not go watch them. Boycott!”
- “I remember the [Lennon thing], I saw it happen in real-time. They wouldn’t listen.”
- “I’m baffled by how blatant it is.”
- “It has been years since they last got heat for using the rising sun flag. When will they learn?”
- “So… Is it going to be all right if I show up to that concert wearing a Hakenkreuz?”
- “So dumb and disrespectful.”
- “Why is Maroon 5 even coming to Korea? So they can cancel the show the same day again?”
- “They think they’re stopping in Korea? After this?”
Maroon 5 has not responded to the concerns being raised online.
The rising sun flag and its careless use—by both Koreans and non-Koreans—continue to stir controversy in Korea. Read more about the damage caused by the rising sun flag design: