Idols With A Cause
Hello Vingle Fam-
In July of 2013, BEAST appeared on an episode of Happy Together and something rather amazing happened. I'm not talking about the members showing off their abs (though that was nice), I'm talking about this: The group's main vocalist, Yang Yoseob wore this purple bracelet, a gift from one of his fans, during the show's filming.
After the broadcast, the website that sells these silicone bracelets actually crashed due the sudden influx in orders.
So what's the big deal about these little bracelets?
They are called Blooming Bracelets and they bring awareness to the plight of Comfort Women.
"Comfort women were women and girls forced into prostitution to serve Japanese soldiers during World War II. Young women were abducted from their homes, or lured with promises of work in factories or restaurants. Once recruited, the women were incarcerated in “comfort stations” in foreign lands, deprived of their basic rights. Treated as little more than animals, they were forced to face several dozen men a day."
All proceeds from the sale of the bracelets "go directly to the “Daegu Citizen Forum for Halmuni” to improve the well-being of comfort women."
Of the documented Comfort Women, only 56 are still alive today, their average age is 90 years old. Weekly protests have been held in support of the Comfort Women outside of the Japanese embassy in Seoul for the past 21 years, despite which the Japanese Government has yet to issue a formal apology. Yoseob, who has been seen wearing the bracelet on many occasions since the broadcast, has been called "gaenyeomdol (an idol with social consciousness)" for using his celebrity status to bring awareness to this worthy cause. In addition, the chairperson of the Committee for the Prevention of Historical Distortion in Northeast Asia personally thanked the vocalist.
His public support of woman's causes has not only labeled the singer as an idol who cares, but it has sparked a trend of social consciousness within the idol industry. In the years since Yoseob's appearance on Happy Family, many idols have also come out in support of the Comfort Woman's cause by wearing Blooming Bracelets. VIXX's Leo and BTOB's Minhyuk. SHINee's Taemin, Onew and Jonghyun. GOT7's JB and Jinyoung. Even rookie Taeyong of NCT fame has been spotted wearing the bracelets. The Blooming Project was started by a group of students at Korea University who wished to bring about awareness to the often overlooked issue of Comfort Woman. They established a brand called Heeum and created a website. They were inspired by the Livestrong bracelets sported by Lance Armstrong and set about creating an inexpensive bracelet that could help raise money for the cause.
Since Yoseob and other idols started sporting the bracelets, the company has been able to expand to include Blooming bags and other goods and even hold events to educate the public on the issue. As multiple members of the project have noted, despite the plight of Comfort Women being an integral part of South Korea's history, many high school students and even adults were not aware of the issue prior to the public's knowledge of the Blooming Project.
The bracelets sell for 2000 won ($1.68 USD) and can be purchased through the group's website, HERE.
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