Steven Yeun has expressed his apologies regarding his recent controversy.

The Korean-American actor was criticized after “liking” a photo on Instagram that included a clothing design with the Rising Sun flag, which is a controversial symbol due to its association with Japanese imperialism.

Soon after he became aware of the controversy, he posted an apology in Korean and English on his Instagram. The apology incited further controversy due to what some perceived to be a difference in tone between his apologies in the two languages.

He had written in the English version, “I am aware of the histories of the countries I am a part of and from. I do not take lightly nor condone the images, symbols, and messages that conjure the horrible moments in our histories. I recently had a moment, where I thoughtlessly engaged with an image that to me was just a photo of a colleague as a child. I did not actively think about the other symbols in the photo and for that I acknowledge my carelessness and apologize.

“It does say something about our culture, however, to know that we are all just a thumb swipe, misplaced like, or mindless internet scrolling away from the questioning of our character. Our world on the internet is so fragile at the moment that it makes me sad that we use this platform to represent us fully.”

Some people voiced the opinion that the actor seemed to have apologized hastily without being fully aware of what he did wrong.

Following these events, a message titled “Please propose a ban on the use of the Rising Sun flag to the National Assembly” was posted on the public petition website for the Blue House on May 13.

The petitioner explained, “Many celebrities including Steven Yeun have caused controversies related to the Rising Sun Flag controversy. The Rising Sun Flag is a reminder of our country’s painful history and a product of Japanese imperialism. However, unlike Europe and other countries that prohibit the swastika, our country doesn’t have any laws banning the Rising Sun flag. Therefore, I propose a ban on the use of the Rising Sun flag in order to correct our country’s history.”

The petition will run until June 12 and currently has over 100 comments of people in favor of the proposal.

Professor Seo Kyung Deok, who has campaigned for the eradication of the Rising Sun flag for the past 10 years, also publicly denounced the actor.

He stated, “The fact that he wrote these words means that he still hasn’t correctly self-reflected. As someone who has carried out the ‘Worldwide Eradication of the Rising Sun flag Campaign’ for the last 10 years, this apology in English only sounds like an excuse.”

The professor added, “When these kinds of things happen, we should not only criticize the person at fault, but put in more effort to correctly inform everyone in the world that the Rising Sun flag is the same as the swastika.”

On May 14, Steven Yeun acknowledged and addressed these concerns. He apologized again by saying, “Recently I did not engage with more consideration in liking a childhood photo of a friend on Instagram, and I am sorry to those who I hurt by my ignorance of the situation. I learned today how deeply my negligence could affect others, especially regarding the history of that symbol which should not be taken lightly in any way.”

He continued, “Through the many concerned messages from fans and people around me, I recognized my ignorance of this issue and that my first apology was written in haste and may have caused hurt or disappointment. I apologize that I have hurt those people, especially as someone who identifies with both the culture of Korea and the U.S., and for not having tried to understand this better. This has been an important learning lesson for me, and I will make sure this does not happen again. I apologize.”

Steven Yeun is currently promoting the Korean film “Burning,” which was invited to the 71st Cannes Film Festival.

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