South Korean k-pop star Sowon faced online backlash on Sunday after she posted photos of herself posing flirtatiously with a mannequin dressed in Nazi military uniform on her Instagram page.
Sowon, born Kim So-jung, is the lead vocalist in the six-piece South Korean girl group GFriend.
She uploaded the photos to her Instagram page, which boasts over 800,000 followers, on Sunday, raising vociferous criticism from netizens who found the images offensive.
"Nazis are not friends you can hug and look at affectionally, they're murderers," one user wrote in response to the photos.
Other users came out in Sowon's defense, giving her the benefit of the doubt. "Unless you are particularly interested in world history, most Koreans would not have noticed it," one fan wrote.
"She apologized and will not do it again. Enough," another user added.
Music production company Source Music, which represents GFriend and Sowon, issued an apology for the photos which were taken at a café during the shooting of a music video last November.
"We apologize for not checking the filming site for inappropriate props in advance, for not thoroughly inspecting the content during the filming and uploading process, and for not paying closer attention to historical facts and societal issues," the statement read. "We sincerely apologize to everyone who felt uncomfortable due to the aforementioned video and photos."
The company also added that upon learning the meaning of the uniforms, Sowon felt "deeply responsible and heartbroken over uploading such photos."