Chinese netizens have criticized BLACKPINK for allegedly endangering the health of pandas by touching them with their bare hands. / Photos: screenshots from BLACKPINK’s YouTube video

After getting backlash from Chinese netizens for touching a panda without gloves, K-pop group BLACKPINK has decided to put off the release of an episode of their online reality show that contains the footage in question. 

On October 7, the group’s label, YG Entertainment, announced, “The release of the last episode of ‘24/365 with BLACKPINK,’ which was scheduled to be uploaded today, has been postponed.”

YG explained, “BLACKPINK’s zookeeping experience with the pandas at Everland was carried out with the participation of a professional veterinarian and zookeepers, and strict disease prevention and sanitation guidelines were observed.” The label emphasized, “When meeting with the baby panda, all of the members wore gloves, masks, and protective clothing, and they disinfected their hands and shoes for each scene change.”

They went on to add, “Out of respect for international cooperative relationships and the advice of panda preservation experts who opined that non-professionals coming into close contact with a baby panda could lead to a misunderstanding, we have decided to postpone the release of the video.”

Previously, YG had released a preview of BLACKPINK interacting with pandas as a part of their zookeeping experience. Chinese netizens pointed out that the video showed BLACKPINK holding baby panda Fu Bao, who was recently born at the Everland theme park, and touching another panda who was brought to Korea in 2016, without gloves or masks. The netizens claimed that such actions on BLACKPINK’s part could endanger the health of the pandas, who are seen as national treasures in China. There were also millions of posts on Weibo with the hashtag, “Korean celebrities mishandle pandas.”