San E Talks About His Recent “Kill Bill” Performance Controversy + MBC Issues 2nd Apology

On February 15, San E held an Instagram Live to talk about his recent controversies and posted on Twitter about the same issue. MBC, meanwhile, has issued a second apology about the affair.

On January 31, San E appeared on a broadcast of MBC’s hip hop survival program “Kill Bill” to perform his self-produced track “Wannabe Rapper.” During his performance, the screen in the background displayed the words “I heart hidden cameras,” which led to heavy criticism from viewers towards both the rapper and the show.

Afterwards, the production staff of “Kill Bill” released an official apology. San E responded to the controversy by uploading a video of the original rehearsal for the show in which the same background display has “hidden cameras” crossed out.

In the Instagram Live broadcast, San E said, “It would be lying if I said I didn’t feel like I was being unfairly attacked. I did feel like that, but the misunderstandings were cleared up and I’m happy now. It’s good to be strong when times call for you to be strong. This morning, my mind was in chaos, but I thought I should be strong and everything wrapped up nicely.”

In response to fans suggesting he should sue, he said, “It’s not that easy to sue. If I sue, I have to hire a lawyer with my own money. It’s not cheap. Lawyers have to pick the malicious commenters. There are two options. One is to come to an agreement. But then people will accuse me of selling agreements. If I don’t come to an agreement, then there’s nothing special. It’s basically paying a fine to the nation. The cost of hiring a lawyer isn’t cheap so it’s not something I can keep doing. If I don’t sue, people might not get scared of me, but just wait.”

He also talked about his “Kill Bill” performance some more. “‘Wannabe Rapper’ is a satire of society and an homage to Childish Gambino’s ‘This Is America.’ The lyrics are mostly ironic. ‘I love hidden cameras’ is not a defence of filming people illegally. Could someone who was in their right mind put that on a public broadcasting channel? Use common sense.”

He continued, “Even if I asked the people who made the video to do such a thing, they would never do it. This performance was staged after coming to a full agreement with MBC. The next day, there was a lot of negative comments and I thought I should speak up. I didn’t have any clips from filming at the time. When I collected them all, it definitely said ‘I love hidden cameras X [indicating a crossing out]’ during the rehearsal. I wanted to criticize the social problem of people calling themselves advocates for gender equality but uploading hidden camera footage. It’s unfortunate that this one screen capture has made things like this.”

He talked some more about the song “Wannabe Rapper.” “I wanted to criticize social problems like mammonism [the false worship of money], the abuse of power by big corporations, the extreme polarization of taking sides, hate-mongering against men and women, the Gangnam murder case, revealing criminals’ personal information beforehand, and driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs. It’s not easy to perform a song like this on a public broadcasting channels. I didn’t care if I was eliminated as long as I could perform it on a public broadcasting channel. The production staff asked if I could perform something else but I really wanted to do this.”

He then talked about the crime of filming people illegally, which has become a serious issue in South Korea in recent years. Classified as a digital sex crime, it was revealed that tiny cameras had been installed in many public facilities (such as bathrooms) to secretly record women.

“Filming people illegally is undoubtedly a crime,” he said. “Rather than saying that one-dimensionally, I wanted to maximize people’s reactions through the use of irony. I did think that it would be nice if people didn’t misunderstand me and say, ‘San E is supporting hidden cameras on a public channel.’ I’m grateful to MBC and the ‘Kill Bill’ staff even though I was eliminated because I could talk about such social issues on their platform. This performance was filmed in October 2018. It was before the song ‘Feminist’ was released. I don’t want to fight with people anymore.”

San E had been embroiled in a series of controversies at the end of last year over his song “Feminist.” Speaking about this topic, he said, “I don’t hate feminists and I support those who speak out for women’s rights. But I think that the meaning of the word ‘feminist’ has changed. I’d rather talk about gender equality. To cherish and love and respect each other. Is that too idealistic? I don’t like to take sides for men or women. I have a lot of female fans who helped me get here, so how could I say terrible things to those people to whom I’m so grateful? It’s a misunderstanding.”

On Twitter, San E uploaded a statement that said, “I wanted to point out social problems that many people can relate to through ‘Wannabe rapper,’ such as illegal filming and distribution, the Gangnam murder case, taking sides between men and women, and hate-mongering. But instead of the concept, context, and lyrics, people only looked at this one edited screenshot and thought, ‘San E is a sexist and supporter of filming people illegally’… I was criticizing the unreasonable things that women can go through, but through prejudice and the mixing up of other unnecessary things, I realized that the ironic meaning of the song that I intended to convey was lost. I will work harder next time.”

MBC and the production staff of “Kill Bill” issued a second apology on their website, saying, “We checked that the controversial scene in question occurred because the video that was played on the display was edited in a manner that was different from what the artist intended. We caused the controversy by not broadcasting the display correctly according to what the artist wanted to express. We would like to sincerely apologize to the artist, San E, and the audience for this error.”

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