Vietnam has launched an inspection into the website of K-pop group Blackpink’s tour organizer ahead of their concert in Hanoi. The inspection was based on fan criticism showing a map of the South China Sea, with disputed boundaries, on the tour organizer’s website.
The controversy follows Vietnam’s decision to ban the film “Barbie”, because of a scene that allegedly features the nine-dash line used on Chinese maps to illustrate Beijing’s claims to the South China Sea. These areas are considered by Vietnam to be its continental shelf.
Vietnam’s Ministry of Culture said on Wednesday (5/7/2023) that it had ordered an inspection of the website of the organizer of the Blackpink concert to verify suspicions that the organizer was promoting the dotted line regarding the South China Sea.
The Ministry of Culture did not immediately respond to questions about the possible results of the examination. Chinese organizer iME Entertainment and South Korean agency YG Entertainment, which manages Blackpink, did not immediately comment.
The move by the Ministry of Culture followed complaints from Vietnamese internet users who highlighted the nine-dash line on the organizer’s website.
“Bought two tickets for me and my date. Then saw cow-tongue (a phrase Vietnam uses to describe the dotted line in the South China Sea), and stopped. I’m (a) patriot,” wrote Tu Anh Xinh, a fan Blackpink on Facebook.
Blackpink will be performing in Vietnam for the first time on July 29-30, after being granted a government license that requires organizers to comply with government regulations on performance activities. The organizer’s website cannot be accessed on Thursday (6/7/2023). But the cached version seen by Reuters and last updated on July 4, shows a faint nine-dash line spanning almost the entire South China Sea.
Vietnam and China have long had overlapping territorial claims over the potentially energy-rich South China Sea in the waterway. The Southeast Asian nation has repeatedly accused Chinese ships of violating its sovereignty.