A TikTok of CLC‘s Sorn in collaboration with Wishtrend, a beauty and skincare company, has fans discussing the video’s content as well as her social media history.
In a video for Wishtrend’s TikTok account (@wishtrendtv), Sorn “recommends” skincare products to Squid Game characters. This is in line with a popular trend online where users will express their opinions about characters or celebrities using methods like cooking a meal, designing a bedroom, planning a vacation, etc. The people they like more “receive” better items (or even the TikTok user themselves), showing their positive opinions.
I will duet this when I finish it and see how opinions will change 😩 #greenscreen
However, Sorn’s video has been received by numerous fans as insensitive due to her recommendation for Ali, portrayed by Anupam Tripathi. Ali is the sole non-Korean main character, a Pakistani migrant worker. In the TikTok, Sorn recommends a variety of products for Ali while only recommending a few products to others and even herself to the characters Kang Sae Byeok (Jung Ho Yeon) and the ddakji player (Gong Yoo).
this is a little. pic.twitter.com/WyJzWcFXF3
— v (@vivntwt) November 4, 2021
The video has over 300,000 views on TikTok and was recently set to “private.” However, a repost on Twitter has amassed over 3 million views. Sorn trended worldwide online soon after as fans discussed the nature of her content.
Some fans believe that act of recommending many products to Ali could have been an expression of her positive attitude towards the character. This would fall in line with the trend, as people will “give” their favorite characters or celebrities the better items.
so i looked into this and apparently its a trend on tiktok to give good things to ‘good characters’ hence why ali got all those products and just a cotton to the ‘evil old guy’ and none of those are skin whitening https://t.co/qa2T6egQco
— kiwi 🝮 (@cherrygoeun) November 4, 2021
However, many fans saw this as insensitive and offensive since Ali is the only non-Korean main character and the one with the darkest complexion. Some believe her video is connected to a long history of colorist beauty standards that encourage those with darker skin to seek skin lightening methods, whether that’s through makeup products or bleaching procedures.
I'm all for "get sorn off of the internet because she's embarrassing" but this is colorist af and she needs to get her shit together and realize how offensive this is https://t.co/SholhkgR5t
— CHEN (@impdae) November 4, 2021
Other fans defended Sorn by explaining that the products she recommended do not include skin-lightening agents. Multiple fans of color have also backed up Sorn by sharing their own positive experiences with Wishtrend’s products.
aight fun’s over. i don’t fw sorn but as a darkskinned BLACK person y’all can’t go around saying the toner she showed is for bleaching. i shop at wishtrend & literally use the same toner. whitening or even BRIGHTENING is not a listed effect & the toner is p mild actually pic.twitter.com/W0GOqlhOTS
— kep1er is ALIVE (@bbyjimjams) November 4, 2021
The TikTok account responded to a comment asking why Ali was recommended multiple products by explaining that they chose to give him better items than the “old man” for example, to whom Sorn recommended a single cotton pad.
Fans are also discussing the “queerbaiting” seen in her videos. Queerbaiting refers to hinting at LGBT representation with little or no intent to respectfully depict LGBT people, as well as non-LGBT people purposefully hinting at them being LGBT despite being cisgender and/or heterosexual. It’s commonly used to refer to relationships between fictional characters but can also be employed as a marketing tactic to draw attention.
Sorn has made multiple videos where she hints at the idea of her being LGBT, including one where she expresses that hearing compliments from women brings her more joy than hearing compliments from men. However, in a later video, Sorn expressed that she is “very, very straight.”
AHT AHT!!!!! pic.twitter.com/hyQ0sNUYhv
— hertz’s no. 1 fan (@itzgrIs) November 4, 2021
The comments section on the TikTok for Wishtrend shows many fans questioning the intentions behind the video as well as the potential queerbaiting. The account has pinned a comment urging people to stop assuming Sorn’s sexuality through a TikTok video because “it’s getting annoying.”
Neither Sorn nor Wishtrend has responded to the criticisms from netizens. The original post on TikTok has been set to “private,” meaning it is currently not visible on their page.