A university in Zamboanga del Norte did not order its senior high school students to include a “fun shoot” with personal declarations in their graduation pictorial after such photos with derogatory statements went viral.
Jose Rizal Memorial State University (JRMSU) last Thursday released a statement after some of its students in uniform in a photo studio were seen holding whiteboards with comments against South Korean boy group BTS.
Alleged comments on the whiteboard read as: “BTS biot” and “Feeling gwapo daw ko? Atleast dili feeling laki parehas sa BTS! #BTSbiot.”
The university, however, said it is not part of its instruction to graduating students.
The students were only instructed to “arrange for their own graduation pictorial with any photo studio of their choice.”
“They were instructed to wear their toga and use a white background. This directive was made to avoid congregation of any kind in the conduct of the photo shoot,” JRMSU said.
It added that the now-viral shots were done “upon the personal request of the said students with a photo studio of their own choosing without the knowledge and official sanction of University authorities.”
“University authorities are conducting an investigation concerning the matter for the resolution of the case,” JRMSU said.
“The University is requesting all affected entities to refrain from making conclusions and generalizations and to calmly wait for the result of the investigation,” it added.
JRMSU in its post also shared links to the statement of the photo studio, which photographed the said students, as well as an apology made by one of the students who shared the controversial comment.
It likewise shared a link to the guidelines for the graduation pictorial which was issued late May.
“Biot” translates to “bayot” in Filipino, a derogatory remark used against a homosexual male.
Meanwhile, BTS is a world-renowned South Korean boy group with hits “Butter,” “Dynamite” and “Boy with Luv” that featured American singer Halsey.
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This was not the first time that the K-pop group was subjected to such comments.
Last month, former beauty queen Imelda Schweighart took a jab at their physical appearance on a Facebook post, months after she went viral for saying that she hated Korean pop.
“The hype is creepy. But there clearly is talent… but aesthetically pleasing in the face, and skin? Would have they made it without glutathione and rhinoplasty? Is it a mix of LGBTQ and real men?” she wrote, saying that her boyfriend made her watched BTS the night before creating her post.
A 2018 report by BBC noted that it is common to spot men sporting some makeup or having a polished appearance in South Korea.
“Compared to the 80s and 90s, now there are a lot more soft masculinities—pretty boy images and gentle male images— represented in media, and consumers welcome and widely consume them,” Sun Jung, author of “Korean Masculinities and Transcultural Consumption,” said.
The report added that this refers to as “Khonminam,” a combination of the words “flower” and “beautiful man.”
Jung said that it takes inspiration from similar concepts in Japan of the “bishonen” or beautiful boys and “Shojo manga” or girls comics—but it is not feminine.
“I think the phenomenon should rather be explained through the notion of hybrid or versatile masculinity—soft yet manly at the same time—which is different from effeminised,” she added.