▲ The 2018 Cheerleading Orientation. Photographed by Kim Seung Hyun
The 2018 Korea University (KU) Cheerleading Orientation was held on March 7 from 5:00 P.M. to 10:00 P.M. at the Hwajeong Tiger Dome. This year's Orientation was one mired in controversy, primarily due to KU Student Union (KUSU)'s announcement on March 2 that the popular Cheerleading song “Yonsei Chicken” would not be played during the Orientation. In its original post, KUSU's Central Steering Committee members argued that the song, which compares Yonsei University's (YU) representative animal, the eagle, to fried chicken, would marginalize vegetarians and animal rights advocates during the Orientation, to whom the very notion of fried chicken is repulsive.
“Since all students should be able to enjoy the Orientation, we found it necessary to discuss whether any aspect of the Orientation from years past could make some students feel uncomfortable,” KUSU stated. However, it also stressed that there were conflicting opinions within the Central Steering Committee and KU Cheerleaders on the matter. Along with “Yonsei Chicken,” songs “Whale Hunt,” “Kang Kang,” and others came under fire for using a pejorative term that could offend disabled students and forcing female Cheerleaders through a sexually charged dance routine, among other reasons. KUSU's announcement took many students by surprise, and online communities such as Koreapas and Everytime were embroiled in a vehement argument over whether KUSU's action was justified.
The mostly antagonistic student reaction ultimately convinced KUSU to issue an apology on March 6 explaining their decision in further detail and debunk misconceptions of their previous announcement. In their apology, KUSU assuaged the restive students by clarifying that discussions pertaining to “Yonsei Chicken” were far from over and that the song could still be used in upcoming events, apologizing for erroneously insinuating otherwise in its previous post. Additionally, KUSU emphasized that “the Central Steering Committee was informed of the Cheerleaders’ internal deliberation on ‘Yonsei Chicken’ and their decision to exclude the song from the March Orientation by the leader of the KU Cheerleaders.”
While the Cheerleading Orientation proceeded as planned, with “Yonsei Chicken” being absent throughout the entirety of the event, all other proposed changes, such as censoring “Whale Hunt” and “Kang Kang,” were not implemented. Despite KUSU’s apologetic stance, some students admonished the organization for deflecting blame to the KU Cheerleaders and unilaterally making a major decision without deferring to public opinion first. It remains to be seen if “Yonsei Chicken” will be included in future Cheerleading events.