Let’s go with oblivious! UFC 158 Diaz vs. St-Pierre was one of the highest PPV purchased fights in UFC history after all of the hype Nick Diaz created. Despite the flat performances by both fighters, GSP retained his UFC Welterweight title. What no one anticipated was the reaction/history lesson GSP would get from a fellow UFC fighter, Chan Sung Jung aka “The Korean Zombie” over his walkout attire.
Remember when you were a kid and your parents busted you doing something you shouldn’t and your excuse was, “Well, I didn’t know.” and it didn’t matter so you still got in trouble? Or even when you told the cop that pulled you over, “I didn’t know this was a school zone.” and now your reading this article in court on your smart phone. Here’s a tip, there are no phones allowed in court so don’t use the “I didn’t know” excuse when the hefty bailiff confiscates your phone that you also use to text with while driving. NOW YOU KNOW!
Ironically, the ”I didn’t know” excuse is exactly why this blunder will blow right over. Well, that and GSP is the UFC’s choir boy coupled with the fact that his sponsor, Hayabusa, is responsible for the design of his walkout gear. Graciously, Jung gave GSP the out when he asked if GSP knew what the flag represented and hoped that he didn’t know in the “letter” he addressed to St-Pierre on his Facebook Page:
Dear Mr. Geroges St. Pierre
Hi, My name is Chan Sung Jung from South Korea. As one of many Koreans who like you as an incredible athlete, I feel like I should tell you that many Korean fans, including myself, were shocked to see you in your gi designed after the Japanese ‘Rising Sun Flag’. For Asians, this flag is a symbol of war crimes, much like the German Hakenkreuzflagge. Did you know that? I hope not.
Just like Nazis, the Japanese also committed atrocities under the name of ‘Militarism’. You can easily learn what they’ve done by googling (please do), although it’s only the tiny tip of an enormous iceberg.
Furthermore, the Japanese Government never gave a sincere apology, and still to this day, so many victims are dying in pain, heartbroken, without being compensated. But many westerners like to wear clothes designed after the symbol under which so many war crimes and so much tragedy happened, which is ridiculous.
I know most of them are not militarists. I know most of them do not approve unjustified invasion, torture, massacre, etc. They’re just ignorant. It’s such a shame that many westerners are not aware of this tragic fact. Wearing Rising Sun outfits is as bad as wearing clothes with the Nazi mark on it, if not worse.
Since you’re influenced by Japanese Martial Arts, you’re wearing a headband designed after Japanese flag is understandable. But again, that huge ‘Rising Sun’ on your Gi means something else.
Many people say GSP is the best Welterweight fighter throughout history, to which I totally agree. This means you have a great influence on every single fan of yours all around the world. And I do believe you’re wearing ‘the symbol of War Crime’ is a very bad example for them, not to mention for yourself.
So, what do you reckon?
Do you want to wear the same Gi next time as well?
Obviously the issues that arose from the 2008 Olympics and protests in South Korea last September are not forgotten and certainly not forgiven. Even with the level of sensitivity surrounding the issue, it will just be seen as an innocent gaffe. Probably, because it’s true that neither St-Pierre, nor Hayabusa, had a clue regarding the level of offense anyone might take to this.
St-Pierre and Hayabusa have since apologized, both using the “I didn’t know” excuse Jung kindly served up on a platter. Hayabusa issued the following statement:
Since Georges St-Pierre wore our walkout gi at UFC 158 we have received attention surrounding the negative connotation of the rising sun graphic used. The last thing we want is to offend or alienate anyone with the choice of design on our products.
We at Hayabusa have the utmost respect for culture and history and appreciate all of our customers worldwide. As such, we accept full responsibility for this design and are taking all complaints and comments very seriously.
The gi worn by GSP will not be brought to market. In addition, we will be very conscious of this specific design element when developing future communication materials and products.
Please accept our sincerest apology for any offence this has caused. If you have any questions or comments regarding this matter, please feel free to discuss it with us at email@example.com. One of our representatives will be happy to assist you.
“We at Hayabusa have the utmost respect for culture and history…” (just not knowledge or awareness of said culture or history). Perhaps, as a (now) global society, we should all take a little more time in our fast-paced world to redirect our political sensitivity based on history and how it has shaped us, rather than political correctness – just a thought.
GSP offered a more succinct apology:
I’d like to also personally apologize to anyone who was offended by this. I am very sorry, that was never my intention.
Kudos to Jung for the approach he took in bringing the subject to light. It’s hard to tell if Jung is just that nice of a guy or if he’s amazingly condescending. Either way, Jiung made it quite interesting to read how he gently inserted GSP’s foot into his own mouth, especially following the likes of Nick Diaz’ shenanigans that made GSP look all the more like the “cowboy in a white hat” than normally leading up to UFC 158…lesson learned!
Britt Hoffmann, Tap Houston