Cultural Appreciation or Not? K-Pop Idols Who Heated Netizens With Cornrows Hairstyles

Hyuna’s Cornrows

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HyunA is a K-Pop star who is known not only for her sexiness but also for her freedom in expressing herself and her courage in changing the notion that Korean celebrities cannot freely show off their love relationships. But HyunA just got a lot of criticism; even her name had become a trending topic worldwide on Twitter.

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It all started when HyunA uploaded a video on Instagram in January 2020, showing off her braided hair on the streets of Thailand. Unfortunately, many fans and non-fans think that what HyunA is doing is not feasible because it is a cultural appropriation that has been happening for years.

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Some K-Pop fans who came from abroad returned to voice their opinions. Those who did not agree with HyunA’s cornrows hairstyle commented and criticized what HyunA had done as an act of cultural appropriation and did not respect certain races from a long time ago. When already using the hairstyle and also make it as a history of their offspring.

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But some fans defend and notify that HyunA’s braids are named Khao San braids, not braid boxes. Even so, there are still many who disagree with what is done by HyunA. After deleting several photos and videos of her with braid-style hair, HyunA uploaded a short video. In essence, she asked for a mutual understanding between herself and her fans. “Hello everyone. I’m heading for the dream island now. I love and respect all my fans. No matter how difficult, please don’t think badly about this. Let’s understand each other. Good night.”

TVXQ’s Changmin

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Although it’s very rare to find cornrows hairstyle, TVXQ’s Changmin has also worn cornrows hairstyle. Maknae from the group had worn this hair before TVXQ became a formation with two members. It certainly shows a different side of his aura, and his appearance was a highlight because, at that time, not many idols had tried the hairstyle.

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In some photos, it can also be seen that TVXQ’s Changmin with cornrows hairstyle lasted a bit longer, and the hairstyle was still used when TVXQ performed for their concert. At that time, maybe TVXQ fans were not too broad to the whole world, so there were no comments yet about the pros or cons of the cornrows hairstyle used by Changmin. However, this is one of Changmin’s very different looks, and he still looks cool with this hairstyle.

Netizen’s Reaction

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Those of you who don’t know braid or braid hair, as shown by BIGBANG’s Taeyang and some other K-Pop idols, are referred to as cultures from ancient women from the North African region. At that time, braids became a symbol of which clans, age, social status, marital status to fashionable trends. When these women were forcibly taken to America to become slaves, they also considered this braid hair as an identity when they were treated improperly. At that time, braids or box braids were also the way African-American women communicated.

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Until now, African-American women consider this braid box hair model to be a hereditary culture of ancestors with many meanings. Many of them do not accept that white women, who used to be insulting, now braid their hair in the style of African women, because it is considered a form of cultural appropriation and does not respect black women.

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Some of the cases that are still found today are discrimination from parties who do not like certain looks because black people are often affected by policies that prohibit certain styles, such as afro, cornrows, or locs. Therefore, there is the New York City Human Rights Commission, which released guidelines to protect the rights of New Yorkers in schools, workplaces, and public places. New York Human Rights Commission Chair Carmelyn P. Malalis said the guidelines published would help various organizations understand that black residents in New York have the right to wear any hairstyle without fear of stigma or hatred.

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It is certainly pros and cons outside the context of racism, and more people who work in the entertainment industry, fashion, or modeling consider the hairstyle a good trend and appreciate every culture that is also history in it with the K-Pop or better known as the Hallyu wave, which is very rich with an eccentric and different appearance than usual.

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There aren’t just 1 or 2 K-Pop idols who have used cornrows hairstyle or dreadlocks. They or rather the stylist of the idol chose the style to dare to look different than the others and consider that this hairstyle trend is a good thing and culture to erase the stigma of people about racism issues that often occur. From some K-Pop idols with cornrows hairstyle, some commented positively or negatively about this—especially those who have the culture and background associated with the hairstyle.

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As reported by AllKpop and another website, some comments were written about K-Pop idols used by cornrows hairstyle, such as:

I can’t understand why some people are canceling idols because of their… hairstyle. I have one friend from the US (she’s attending university in my country now) who’s a black person, and she never felt offended because of a hairstyle. It’s not like an idol is insulting anyone by wearing braids. Why people call it cultural appropriation?

I’m black too, and I didn’t have that much of a problem with it. No one cares about the hairstyles; they want to bash people for it for their good. And people always tell me that i’m too light skin too lol.

Dreadlocks are a choice that has been used by many cultures in the world. I hope some of you are willing to erase that unpleasant tweet because you will make Jongin (Kai’s real name) have a heart attack.”

Thank you. I’m also a black person, and I don’t care if there are white people or Asian people wearing dreadlocks because, for me, it’s just a hairstyle.

For me, it’s just a hairstyle. But it seems that other people make it a big problem. But the most important thing is that Kai doesn’t mean to be rude to any culture.


Well, that is all some information about K-Pop idols who have worn cornrows hairstyle. They have no intention or purpose for cultural appropriation or discriminating against a particular racial group with their appearance. Even though their culture and background are different, they want to convey the good message and praise they get with the hairstyle trend because the stigma is not always negative.

The response they get is certainly good if they convey it well too. Let’s continue to support every trend and mode in the entertainment industry and respect every cultural meaning behind it!