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Malaysian Buddhists Seek Ban on Korean DJ for Dressing Like a Monk


Leading Buddhist organizations in Malaysia, with support from the president of the Malaysia Chinese Association, Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong, have called for Korean DJ NewJeansNim to be banned from performing in the country. The outcry came after DJ NewJeansNim performed on 3 May at a dance club in Kuala Lumpur while dressed as a Buddhist monk.

The Young Buddhist Association of Malaysia (YBAM) told reporters that they had received complaints from Buddhists, saying that the DJ’s clothing had “harmed and disrespected” the Buddhist way of life. “[The] YBAM opines that the impersonation of sangha members, one of the components of the Triple Gem, in performances in entertainment venues such as dance halls is inappropriate,” YBAM secretary-general Eow Shiang Yen said in a statement. (Free Malaysia Today)

“Such an arrangement will not only affect the solemnity of Buddhism but may also confuse the public about the true meaning of Buddhist rituals, such as chanting sutras and holding palms together,” Eow added. (New Straits Times)

The Triple Gem refers to the three refuges that Buddhists go to as part of their practice and devotion: the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. The Sangha is revered as the living embodiment of the Buddha’s teachings and source of guidance for lay practitioners.


Eow also pointed to the dance club as a problematic setting for Buddhists due to the presence of alcohol and rowdy behavior. “Such an arrangement will not only affect the solemnity of Buddhism but may also confuse the public about the true meaning of Buddhist rituals, such as chanting sutras and holding palms together,” he said. “Modern society certainly has its needs for creativity, entertainment and humor, but their presentation must consider moderation, respect for religious sensitivities, and avoidance of causing misunderstandings about religion to build a healthy social morality.” (Free Malaysia Today)

Responding to the concern around the DJ, Eow urged everyone to remember to be sensitive to matters of race, religion, and royalty—known as the “3Rs” in Malaysia, seen as essential for maintaining social harmony in the country, which has seen ethnic, religious, and political crises since its independence in 1957.

Refering to the DJ, Wee Ka Siong, who is also a member of parliament, said: “His controversial acts have hurt the feelings of the Buddhist community, which will celebrate Wesak Day in two weeks’ time.” He added that the DJ was scheduled to perform again in Malaysia on 21 May, the day before Wesak. (The Star)

Wee went on to say, “I appeal to the Home Affairs Minister to instruct the Immigration Department, the police and the Puspal secretariat to prevent the entry of the DJ into Malaysia in order to respect the sanctity of Buddhism and preserve religious harmony in Malaysia. If the DJ did not disguise as a Buddhist monk during his performance and incite religious sensitivity and cause unnecessary controversy, the Buddhist community will not have any intention to block the performance of any artists.” (The Star)

Last month, DJ NewJeansNim performed in Seoul for the International Buddhism Expo.* There, he was also dressed in clothes resembling a monk and received a positive reaction.

* Buddhists Look to Youth at International Buddhism Expo in Seoul (BDG)

See more

Buddhist group slams Korean DJ’s monk getup in KL club (Free Malaysia Today)
Wee backs Buddhist bodies’ call to ban Korean DJ over monk appearance at dance club (New Straits Times)
Korean deejay disrespectful for dressing up as monk, says Dr Wee (The Star)
South Korean DJ NewJeansNim faces calls for ban in Malaysia after performing in monk robe at dance club (South China Morning Post)

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