By Erica Lyons
A South Korean cosmetic company, Coreana, became yet the latest regional business to attempt to cash in on the apparent popularity of the Nazi theme. In an ad campaign designed to promote skin cream, the company’s television ad features a young woman in a uniform reminiscent of Nazi Germany.
While sirens blare in the background and the sounds of artillery shells exploding ring, the sponsor states, “Hitler couldn’t even hold East and West.”
The company indicated that they chose the Nazi theme to portray the “revolutionary” benefits of their new skin cream.
The Israeli Embassy in Seoul immediately responded to this campaign and was backed by a strong statement issued by the Simon Wiesenthal Center. “Frankly put, these imagesand references are an insult to the memory of the victims of the Nazi Holocaust, when 6 million innocent Jews were systematically murdered,” wrote
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Wiesenthal Center, in a letter to Coreana’s Chairman Sang-Ok Yu and its President Chan-Won Park. Cooper further stated that, “…survivors of those atrocities are outraged that their suffering at the hand of racist murderers is being mocked by such a campaign.”
In response to the outcry, the company, one of the largest in South Korea, changed the logo to read, “no one could hold East and West.” This subtle change to the campaign, run by Korad a Seoul-based fi rm, hardly softened the blow. Coreana’s two CEOs reportedly later sent written apologies to the embassy and the Jewish groups.
While this ad campaign was eventually withdrawn, the battle is far from over. The use of Nazi and Hitler themes is becoming increasingly more common throughout the Far East. In the past year, there have been reports of Nazi themed bars and eateries, clothing lines, comic books, advertising campaigns and even a bedding collection.
These incidents have occurred repeatedly in Asia, in countries including South Korea, Japan, Thailand and India.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center has offered to partner up with local organisations to help coordinate an educational programme aimed at increasing Holocaust awareness.
(Issue May 2008)