Zara faces boycott after Korea chief's remarks about antigovernment protests

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Zara faces boycott after Korea chief's remarks about antigovernment protests

Zara's Korean chief Lee Bong-jin came under fire after he disparaged millions of people who have taken to the streets in the last month to participate in the antigovernment protests. The comment he made during one of his recent lectures is sparking a boycott of Zara apparel.

According to a Twitter comment written by one of the lecture attendees, Lee said, "While you are out on the street, some 49 million people are working on something else. You have to take care of your own future."

The Twitter post went viral right away.

Lee apologized on his individual Twitter account, saying he "has been misunderstood" and the "context before and after that comment should be considered.

"I wasn't degrading the action of participating in the protest," Lee wrote. "I also think the current political situation is very unjust and believe the truth should come to light very soon."

Lee also went onto say that people should focus on their own jobs and responsibility to better curate their future.

"While 1 million people are protesting, the rest of the 49 million population of the country are not swept by the chaotic mood but are focusing on their own tasks. I was trying to say that focusing on your task will help better achieve each one of your goals."

Despite Lee’s apology, netizens began to voice their intention to boycott the retailer’s products. Some even claimed that they will buy Zara clothes directly from the parent company’s website instead of in Korea.

The lecture attendee also raised question in his post whether participating in the protest meant anything. He finished his post by saying that he “participated in the protest to change our future.”

Lee is not the first one to come under fire after publically expressing an opinion about the ongoing antigovernment protests surrounding President Park Geun-hye and her allegedly influence-peddling confidante Choi Soon-sil, prompting boycotting movement.

Kim Young-sik, CEO of Chunho Food that specializes in health products such as ginseng and acai fruit extract, also was targeted for a boycott this month after expressing concern about the chaotic state of the country and blaming the public.

“The nation is tumultuous,” Kim wrote on his own website on Nov. 4.

“I am afraid of what other countries may think of Korea. I don’t know why the media is digging up events that happened before in terms of candle protests and more, causing all the trouble. … If the government shakes up, the whole nation can get dangerous.”

The post was taken down in less than 30 minutes and Kim posted an apology saying his comments included elements that could be misunderstood and that he "made a mistake."

Members of an online community immediately launched a boycott of Chunho food products.

So far, more than 5,000 people in an online survey indicated they are boycotting Chunho.


BY JIN EUN-SOO [jin.eunsoo@joongang.co.kr]

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