PETALING JAYA, March 24 — South Korean entertainment agency SM Entertainment sparked outrage recently when they announced the sale of five face masks for US$30 (RM133) each.
The South Korean agency, which manages K-pop bigwigs like boybands EXO and NCT 127, advertised the KN95 masks on their global merchandise store’s Twitter account @SMGlobalShop this morning and called on their followers to “stay healthy and protect (themselves) from the coronavirus”.
Stay healthy and protect yourself from Corona Virus!— SMGlobalShop (@SMGlobalShop) March 23, 2020
FDA certified KN95 masks are now available on SM Global Shop.
Link ➡️ https://t.co/EOoIXwKHc1#ProtectYourselfAndOthers #KN95 #FaceMask pic.twitter.com/cvdpMvhTdU
The post quickly garnered backlash from K-pop fans who pointed out the inflated prices and accused the company of profiteering off a global health crisis in the Covid-19 pandemic
Poor taste to be selling these.....— leala 🦄 turkey (@lealaturkey) March 23, 2020
profiting off a pandemic.......— elise# (@okayelise) March 24, 2020
$30.00????!!! really ????? you are a big company, send these to hospitals— MisterPanda (@heymisterpanda) March 23, 2020
At US$30 for a pack of five, each mask costs US$6 (RM26.60) each, a massive hike from the average price in South Korea.
The Korea Herald reported that face masks sold at pharmacies, post offices, and stores operated by National Agriculture Cooperative Federation (NongHyup) cost only US$1.27 (RM5.60) each.
SM Entertainment responded to the criticism shortly after their original tweet was published and defended the sale of the face masks, adding that they had donated face masks to staff at the Los Angeles Children’s Hospital as well.
“(We) are selling very limited quantities for people who don’t have masks yet.
“This is about caring for people and helping our society. We are really sorry to everyone who felt uncomfortable.
“Stay safe all and pray for all children,” read the tweet.
Hi everyone. We are donating masks for 'Children's Hospital Los Angeles' workers and are selling very limited quantity for people who doesn't have mask yet. This is about caring people and helping our society. We are really sorry to everyone who have felt any uncomfortable. https://t.co/S8lY5qmzOh— SMGlobalShop (@SMGlobalShop) March 24, 2020
Despite stating that the masks were still for sale, the link to the product is no longer active.
While many users agreed that donating face masks to the children’s hospital was a noble gesture, others said that SM Entertainment should have prioritised making donations rather than making money.
Should’ve started there instead of monetize the situation— ʚ dia⁷ ɞ ☾ (@seokninie) March 24, 2020
You're still planning to sell them??????? Donate them all!— vhats in vhats out (@V46Verde) March 24, 2020