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Vietnamese YouTuber confronted by storm of anger for tactless manners in Japan

Thursday, November 07, 2019, 17:00 GMT+7
Vietnamese YouTuber confronted by storm of anger for tactless manners in Japan
A screenshot from the controversial video on Khoa Pug YouTube channel

A YouTube personality in Vietnam known for his travel reviews has come under criticism for displaying impolite behaviors and making condescending comments about a waitress in a recent video shot at a restaurant in Japan.

The three-year-old YouTube channel, Khoa Pug, publishes daily videos about travel, food, and restaurant experiences.

It has over 2.26 million subscribers as of November 2019.

In recent videos, Khoa, the channel’s owner, chronicled his activities while travelling in Japan.

A video uploaded to the channel on November 1 has given rise to public criticism targeted at him for falsely describing a Japanese waitress as “kneeling” and “begging” before Vietnamese customers.

The lengthy Vietnamese title of the video can be translated into English as “Japanese woman kneels and begs that camerawoman be allowed to eat - Khoa Pug faces a problem at the Geisha Kyoto hotpot restaurant.”

In the footage, Khoa appeared to randomly pick the restaurant to have dinner as he toured the streets of Kyoto, Japan’s ancient capital about 450 kilometers from Tokyo.

A screenshot from the controversial video on Khoa Pug YouTube channel.

A screenshot from the controversial video on Khoa Pug YouTube channel

In the first half of the video, a waitress showed delicate, polite manners typical of Japanese culture as she knelt to serve food to Khoa and his camerawoman, while the YouTuber focused on talking to the camera.

The waitress could be seen trying to cover her face when the camera was directed at her.

In on-screen texts in the video, Khoa explained that he felt uncomfortable seeing the waitress kneeling, and jumped to the conclusion that her service was pitiful, referring to the waitress’ kneeling as an example of Japan’s “gender discrimination."

Between the 13th and 15th minutes, the waitress apparently insisted, in Japanese, that the camerawoman put the camera down and join the meal with her companion.

Despite speaking no Japanese, Khoa intentionally misinterpreted the waitress’ request as a show of “sympathy” for the Vietnamese woman who she thought suffered from the same discrimination.

The original Vietnamese YouTube personality even went as far as claiming in the on-screen graphics that the waitress began to cry as the camerawoman refused to start eating.

“The waitress did not agree with the idea that the camerawoman would eat after she’s done with filming so I told the waitress to go out and that I could serve myself,” the subtitles read.

The waitress was not seen crying in the video.

A screenshot from the controversial video on Khoa Pug YouTube channel claims that the waitress began to cry as the camerawoman refused to start eating.
A screenshot from the controversial video on Khoa Pug YouTube channel claims that the waitress began to cry as the camerawoman refused to start eating.

What the waitress actually said was that filming was not allowed in the restaurant, and that the camerawoman had to turn off the device, according to Le Cam Nhung, who teaches Vietnamese at Showa University in Tokyo and is also a lecturer in the Faculty of Japanese Language and Culture at the Hue College of Foreign Languages in central Vietnam.

“The waitress said that restaurants are for dining, not recording videos,” Nhung told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.

Nhung explained that kneeling on the ground is part of traditional Japanese etiquette which is often practiced in daily services at restaurants or hospitals.

According to Abu Dory, a Vietnamese woman working in Japan, signs warning visitors against using cameras and recording devices are put up at many public places in Japan.

“Visitors have to ask for permission if they want to use such devices,” the young worker said.

The controversial video has so far been watched more than 2.5 million times and received over 7,100 comments, while garnering 8,500 “thumbs down” on YouTube as of Thursday afternoon.

Some users criticized that the video shows Khoa’s ignorance about Japanese culture and language, while others pointed out that the only issue of the video lies in its defamatory title.

Khoa apparently took in these comments as the video’s title has been changed to “Sukiyaki hotpot – Khoa Pug reviews Kyoto specialties at an over-100-year-old restaurant.”

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