Tag Archives: uniqlo

Uniqlo Commercial Pulled In South Korea Due To Subtitle Translation

In a recent Uniqlo commercial, 98-year-old fashion model Iris Apfel talks with 13-year-old fashion designer Kheris Rogers. The commercial is in English, and the Korean-language subtitles have caused the Japanese clothing company to pull the ad. Viewers are accusing the subtitled commercial of forgetting the horrors of Japan’s forced occupation.

Apfel speaks English in the ad and is asked how she used to dress when she was the 13-year-old’s age. She replies, “Oh my god, I can’t remember that far back.”

In the Japanese version of the ad, the line is translated into Japanese as “As for things in the past, I forgot em.”


However, in the Korean version, the line is translated as her saying, “How can I remember when it was over 80 years ago?” Obviously, the original English differs.

This translation has caused controversy because in South Korea there are claims this is a reference to Japan’s imperial rule of South Korea and all that happened during that period (more here), such as forced labor and sexual slavery. The subtitle controversy has made its way to mainstream Korean news.

The implication is that old people cannot really remember what happened, which would be a pointed condemnation of the surviving comfort women, who are now in their 90s.


In 2015, the Japanese and South Korean government reached an agreement on the comfort women, establishing a $9 million fund to assist them. But former comfort women, like Kim Bok-dong who died earlier this year, want a formal apology from the Japanese government.

Against this backdrop, tensions between Japan and South Korea are currently running high with the South Korean Supreme Court ruling that Japanese companies need to pay for forced wartime factory and mining labor, Japan no longer considering South Korea a trusted trading partner, and Seoul abandoning intelligence sharing with Tokyo. Korean tourism is down in Japan, and in South Korea, there are boycotts on Japanese goods, hurting companies like Uniqlo. The two neighboring countries are not getting along.


At the center of contention is the 1965 Treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea. The Japanese point of view is that the treaty states issues of compensation were settled “completely and finally” through Japan’s massive injection of economic aid, which included settlement money, into South Korea. As Lawfare points out, the South Korean government did not pay that money out as compensation to its citizens and instead used it to build up its infrastructure.


However, the Korean view is that the Japanese occupation was unlawful and thus, the South Korean Supreme Court’s ruling is correct. Moreover, the ruling argued that Japan never agreed that colonialism was unjust and therefore the money could never have been intended for victims. You can read more on Lawfare about the ongoing legal wrangling between the two countries.

Tadashi Yanai, Uniqlo’s founder and CEO, has been critical of how the Japanese government has been recently acting toward South Korea, saying it has been “odd” and “hysterical” and that he understands why South Koreans have started boycotting Japanese products.


Uniqlo Korea has pulled the ad but believes this is a misunderstanding. “We can’t really comprehend why it’s controversial, but there might be a misunderstanding,” said Uniqlo Korea, according to SCMP. “We think [the Korean people] have overly interpreted it in that way.”

“The ad was not designed for a specific country. It’s a global advertisement,” Uniqlo Korea added. “The models are real designers 98-year-old Iris Apfel and 13-year-old Kheris Rogers. The subtitles are to highlight their age difference. There are no national or historic connotations.”

Source: Kotaku.com

Pokémon T-Shirt Contest Winner Disqualified, Design Pulled From Upcoming Game

Screenshot: The Pokemon Company (Uniqlo)

Earlier this week, Japanese clothing company Uniqlo announced Chinese artist Li Wen Pei had won its UT Grand Prix contest for designing Pokémon T-shirts. He was set to win $10,000 and have his design featured in Pokémon Sword and Shield, set to come to Switch later this year. Uniqlo now says Wen Pei has been disqualified for failing to adhere to the contest’s rules.

“Uniqlo, the Japenase global apparel retailer, today announces that is has disqualified the Grand Prize winner and another finalist in its Pokémon-themed UT Grand Prix 2019 design contest after learning that the designs in question were not in accordance with the terms of that competition,” the company said in a statement. “Uniqlo will not award the Grand Prize to another entrant or sell merchandise feature the designs.”

Wen Pei’s design included a stylized rendering of a Gyarados sitting above a trio of Magikarp. “Magikarp is the faith in a fan’s mind. Also, the evolution from weakness to mightiness is like a miracle,” he told Uniqlo in his description of the work.

One possible reason the design was disqualified may be that this wasn’t the first time Wen Pei had used the design for commercial purposes, which is against the rules of the competition. According to a translation of a now deleted post on the Chinese social media website Sina Weibo by website Nintendo Soup, Wen Pei had previously sold some phone cases with the artwork on it, and the design then ended up on t-shirts. Wen Pei claimed that its subsequent appearance on T-shirts was due to people pirating his work. In a follow-up post, Wen Pei said that he had explained the matter to Uniqlo.

“Uniqlo may withdraw prizes and/or terminate merchandising of t-shirts with Winning Artworks without prior notice to an entrant, irrespective of the originality of the Artwork submitted by the entrant, if similar artwork is already publicly available from outside Uniqlo stores,” the rules for the contest state.

When asked for comment, Uniqlo would not confirm the reason why Wen Pei was disqualified from the contest.

Source: Kotaku.com