November 7 is ipdong (입동) in Korea, marking the “first day” or “the beginning of winter”.

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A Buddhist temple in Gimje City, Korea in the winter. | @Kor_Visitkorea/Twitter

In celebration of ipdong, the South Korean Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (MAFRA) tweeted a message…

Screen Shot 2020-11-07 at 9.13.03 PM

November 7, today is ipdong. It’s a subdivision of the seasons marking the first day of winter. There is a saying in Korean that goes, “Once ipdong passes, kimchi must be made.” That is because in the olden days, ipdong marked a drop in temperature. Too long past ipdong, all the cabbages would soon freeze and it would become difficult to find fresh ingredients for kimchi-making.

— MAFRA

… with an illustration of a family cozying up in a room.

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Ipdong, a day when winter begins.” | @mafrakorea/Twitter

The tweet immediately sparked an intense debate among Korean netizens, however, because of the furniture included in the illustration. Netizens argued that the furniture is allegedly a Japanese kotatsu…

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A Japanese kotatsu. | tokyoweekender

… and heavily criticized MAFRA for “associating the Korean ipdong with a culturally Japanese illustration” when it “should have been more careful as a Korean government organization, on its official social media platform.

  • “You’re f*cking kidding me, right…? NO KOREAN HOUSEHOLD uses a piece of furniture that looks like that. And for some of you saying that could be a tablecloth… Which Korean lets a tablecloth drag on the floor like that? Don’t sh*t yourselves. MAFRA messed up.”
  • “How come no one said, ‘Wait a second. Is this a Japanese kotatsu in an illustration to be used on a Korean government organization’s official Twitter?’ Not a single soul thought this is wrong? It worries me.”
  • “Oh wow. The absolute lack of human intelligence and any professionalism and the appreciation for heritage DISGUSTS me. Take a f*cking history lesson, MAFRA. In which country is ipdong celebrated by gathering under a kotatsu?”
  • “If you’re a South Korean government organization, then act like one.”

 

Shortly after the “problematic” illustration set MAFRA’s Twitter ablaze, the organization took the tweet down and published a clearly-more Korean version — featuring kimchi.

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“Ipdong, a day when winter begins.” | @mafrakorea/Twitter

MAFRA also shared an official apology for being unaware “of the problematic illustration included in the original tweet.”

We are re-uploading this tweet because we became aware of the problematic illustration included in the original tweet from earlier this morning. We apologize for having offended everyone on this meaningful day to welcome the winter season. We will pay more attention to the content we create and share. Thank you.

— MAFRA