Japanese clothing giant Uniqlo pulled a TV ad in South Korea after viewers complained it mocked World War II sex slavery amid the 2 nations' escalating trade war

Uniqlo advert pulled from South KoreaThe clip featured a conversation between 98-year-old US fashion icon Iris Apfel and teenage fashion designer Kheris Rogers.Youtube/Uniqlo

  • Japanese clothing retailer Uniqlo pulled an advert from South Korean television after it was accused of mocking sex slaves from the wartime. 
  • The advert referenced the time period of 80 years ago, which triggered criticism from South Koreans who associate that time with the Japanese occupation during World War II.
  •  The ad was removed by Uniqlo on Saturday from South Korea, according to Reuters.
  • The incident took place in the context of the escalating trade war between South Korea and Japan, which has seen the two nations downgrade each other as trading partners.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Japanese clothing store Uniqlo pulled a television advert in South Korea after it was accused of referencing the occupation of Korea by Japan during World War II, and the use of Korean women as sex slaves during that time.

The advert featured a conversation between 98-year-old US fashion icon Iris Apfel and Kheris Rogers, a teenage fashion designer. 

Read more: South Koreans are canceling vacations to Japan and boycotting its beer in a trade war more bitter than Trump's feud with China

In the English version of the video, Apfel was asked how she used to dress as a teenager, and replies with "Oh my God, I can't remember that far back." 

When the advert was translated for audiences in South Korea, the line was changed to "Oh my God, how can I remember what happened more than 80 years ago?" 

South Korea Uniqlo advertIt was the reference to &quot80 years ago" which sparked controversy from South Koreans who felt the comment mocked victims of the wartime sex slave.Youtube/KBS media

The direct reference to the time period of 80 years ago triggered criticism from some South Koreans, many of whom associate that time vividly with the Japanese occupation of their country.

South Koreans felt that the advert was referencing Japan's occupation of Korea during World War II, and specifically the use of Korean women as sex slaves during that time, according to Korean broadcaster KBS.

Business Insider contacted Uniqlo but a spokesperson was not immediately available for comment. 

A group of university students held a rally in front of a Uniqlo shop in Seoul on Monday calling for the company to apologise more robustly, according to The Financial Times.

"The ad intended to erase our bitter memories of the past despite evidence of the forced labour and sex slavery," Bang Seulkichan, one of the students protesting, told The Financial Times.

The full advert can be seen in the clip below: 

Uniqlo made the decision to pull the advert on Saturday, according to Reuters. 

"There was no intention to touch on the issue of comfort women or the South Korea-Japan dispute," a Uniqlo official in Seoul told Reuters.

Read more: South Korea kicked up its trade war with Japan by making it 3 times as hard for companies to export goods there

"Comfort women" is a term used to refer to girls and women who were forced to work in Japan's wartime brothels. 

The incident takes place in the context of a growing trade war between South Korea and Japan. 

Relations between Seoul and Tokyo deteriorated last year after South Korea's Supreme Court ordered Japanese companies to compensate Korean forced-laborers from World War II. 

The dispute has led both Japan and South Korea to downgrade each other on lists of preferred trading partners, and led people in both nations to boycott goods from the other.

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