G-Dragon

A self-portrait of K-Pop star G-Dragon from Instagram. (G-Dragon / Instagram / July 31, 2013)

Earlier this week, the K-Pop superstar G-Dragon posted an image to his Instagram account that shocked many U.S. fans with its resemblance to a widely shared image of the Florida shooting victim Trayvon Martin.

Though the post didn't mention Martin by name, the photo's uncanny similarity to the Martin shot -- similar framing, a gray hood over his head and what appeared to be an ugly "blackface" makeup job -- prompted an uproar from fans and media who thought G-Dragon had made a very awkward sort of tribute in line with the "I Am Trayvon Martin" meme. Artists like Frank Ocean, The-Dream and Diddy had also recently posted similar photos of themselves online.

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Now a rep for G-Dragon has told Spin, one of the first outlets to report on the resemblance, that the entire situation was a "HUGE misunderstanding" and that the image was a visual concept in line with the art for G-Dragon's upcoming album.

"The face paint is only a color variation for his album cover which includes black, white, and red," the rep told Spin. "It is in no way meant to be a political or racial statement." Nonetheless, the photo did spur a conversation about how African-Americans are represented in Korean pop culture.

G-Dragon is slated to appear in L.A. this month at the popular K-CON festival, a showcase of contemporary K-Pop culture. Perhaps this whole episode can be a lesson that any non-African Americans posting context-free photos of themselves in black face paint and hip-hop-inspired attire is probably not a wise move.

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