In a segment aired on SBS News, it has been revealed that China has now officially started to refer to South Korea as “Thief Country.” The reason behind this nickname is due to their claims that South Korea is “stealing” the rights to their “culture.” The Chinese public insists that numerous Korean traditions like kimchihanbok, and “Arirang” are really a part of their own cultural identity.

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Chinese media claiming hanbok, kimchi, and “Arirang.” | SBS News

When Chinese netizens search the phrase “thief country” on Weibo (China’s popular social media platform), phrases referring to South Korea pop up right away.

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Still from news segment. | SBS News

The audacity of this ‘thief country’ who used to be dependent on China.

— Weibo search of “thief country”/SBS News

Here is another example.

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Still from news segment. | SBS News

Only the impression remains. Let’s begin to refer to South Korea as ‘thief country.’

— Weibo search of “thief country”/SBS News

Along with these absurd Weibo searches, the most recent and bizarre case regarding the South Korean decorative knot, maedeup was brought up as well. This traditional South Korean cultural artifact is also being claimed by the Chinese public. Chinese netizens took to a Korean culture Instagram page and filled the comment section with malicious comments, attacking South Korea for “stealing” maedeup from them. While both South Korea and China have their own versions of decorative knots, there are subtle differences between the two. Regardless of these differences, however, the Chinese public has been relentlessly claiming South Korea’s maedeup as their own.

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Korean maedeup (left) and Chinese knot (right). | The Korea Times, Medium

After months of these claims made by China, SBS News decided to tackle the difficult question, “Why is China doing this?” In response to this question, SBS News shared the reason they believe China has been targeting South Korea.

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Still from news segment. | SBS News

Before, the mascot for all things related to Asian culture was China. China’s culture was the only one. In recent times, however, due to K-Pop, Korean dramas and Korean movies, a shift has been made. The center of Asian culture has been gradually changing from China to South Korea. Due to this, we can only assume that China has been feeling threatened.

— SBS News

One of the biggest items that the Chinese public has been claiming ownership of is the well-known South Korean dish, kimchi. China has made several public proclamations stating that the fermented cabbage dish originated in China and not South Korea. SBS News revealed that due to the influx of these claims, Korean kimchi factories have taken the issue into their own hands.

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Still from news segment. | SBS News

China has made unfair claims about kimchi. Due to this, a Korean kimchi factory took out a massive ad in ‘The New York Times.’

— SBS News

SBS News further shares what they believe the Korean public can do to fight against such claims.

Every time China does something like this, I believe the best way to retaliate is to garner the public’s attention by aggressively promoting our Korean culture.

— SBS News

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| Financial Times