K-pop idols have not always been in the forefront of social movements. Yet two popular stars in the industry -- Sulli and Hwasa -- have recently ignited the heated debate on going bra-free.
Sulli, formerly of girl group f(x), has in recent years uploaded photographs and videos of herself without a bra on her social media accounts. Each time she uploads one, her Instagram account is bombarded with comments -- both supportive and expressing disgust.
Appearing on JTBC’s “Night of Hate Comments” variety show on July 21, she officially addressed the issue for the first time, saying simply, “Going braless is one’s freedom.”
“Bras have wires; they are not good for health. Not wearing one is comfortable. That is something beautiful and natural. For me, a bra is like an accessory. Some outfits go with it, and others do not. That’s why I sometimes do not wear a bra,” Sulli said.
“When I upload my photos without a bra, people talk about it a lot. I could have been scared. But I didn’t because I thought it would be nice if more people could discard their prejudices,” she said. “I want to step outside the box, tell people (not wearing a bra) is not a big thing.”
Sulli (left) and Hwasa (Yonhap)
Hwasa of K-pop band Mamamoo was spotted strolling braless at the airport as she returned home after a concert in Hong Kong on July 7, wearing a white cropped top through which the impression of her nipples could faintly be seen. The look sparked controversy online on whether going braless is one’s freedom or could be provocative or disturbing to others.
Though commenters had mixed opinions, one thing was proven: Female nipples remain taboo here. Some media outlets went so far as to blur Hwasa’s chest as they reported on the K-pop star going braless, deeming the content to be too sexual.
Though going braless may be the norm in some parts of the world, in Korea, it is still controversial. While some argue bras can be uncomfortable and ultimately unhealthy, others say going braless is radical, and inappropriate in public spaces.
“I understand that going braless is related with the women’s rights movement. But still, if my daughter decides to go braless, I will worry that some men may have inappropriate thoughts, sometimes jeopardizing her safety,” a male office worker in his late 50s said.
“Women’s breasts are not porn. There is nothing sexual about breasts unless you think so. No one tells men to wear a bra, even though he may have larger-than-usual breasts. Why? Men’s breasts are not considered sexual,” a female student in her mid-20s said.
Supporting Sulli and Hwasa going braless, some online comments pointed out that when Song Min-ho of boy band Winner walked through an airport with no shirt, no big deal was made of it. Returning from an overseas concert tour via Incheon Airport on June 8, Song wore an open black jacket without a shirt, his bare midriff and chest on full display.
“Before talking about Hwasa, someone give Song a shirt,” read one comment.