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IU slammed for ‘inappropriately sexualizing’ 5-year-old

  • Published : Nov 6, 2015 - 17:30
  • Updated : Nov 6, 2015 - 17:30

Singer-songwriter IU is being lambasted for ‘inappropriately sexualizing’ the 5-year-old protagonist Zeze from Portuguese novel “My Sweet Orange Tree,” in her new song that takes its title from the character’s name.

This is a second blow for the singer, who was previously accused of plagiarizing Britney Spears’ “Gimme More” in her song “Twenty-Three,” only a few days after being awarded by the government for her contributions toward the spread of hallyu.

The issue was raised Thursday by Korean publisher Dongnyok, who translated and distributed the original book penned by writer Jose Mauro de Vasconcelos.

(Loen Entertainment)
Via social media, Dongnyok expressed regrets, saying IU “portrayed the 5-year-old Zeze, who is full of pain and abused, as a sexual subject.” The publisher added, “Freedom of expression should also be carried out in the presence of an empathizing crowd.”

It also raised questions about the cover art for the “Chat-Shire” album, saying Zeze was “drawn wearing fishnet pantyhose posing like a pin-up girl.”

IU had previously said in an interview that her song “Zeze” was written from the orange tree’s perspective. She had said, “Zeze is innocent and at the same time, cruel. He is a contradictory character and that’s why I thought of him as attractive and sexy.”

In the lyrics, the personified orange tree calls out to the boy, “Zeze, hurry up and climb the tree, kiss the leaves. Don’t be a bad boy, you shouldn’t hurt the tree. You’re naive and sly, clear like a child but somehow dirty. There’s no way of finding out what lives in you.”

Entertainer and critic Huh Ji-woong is one of many who have countered Dongnyok’s claim on the basis of freedom of artistic interpretation and expression.

Huh said, “It’s not right for a publisher to set limits on literary interpretation. All literature is newly discovered by each reader’s ability to interpret liberally. Zeze himself may not agree with Dongnyok.”

IU is to carry on with her scheduled fan event Friday night, as well as her nationwide concert tour slated for the end of November.

An industry insider who asked for anonymity said, “As opposed to the media’s concerns, there weren’t any calls for a ticket refund.”

“We are unsure if IU will sing ‘Zeze’ or ‘Twenty-Three’ on the tour,” the insider added.

By Lim Jeong-yeo (kaylalim@heraldcorp.com)

Related article: IU accused of plagiarizing Britney Spears’ with ‘Twenty-Three’

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