Billboard for vegan food company emblazoned with Kim Jong-un slammed as racist

The company has apologised for causing offence with the campaign.
The company has apologised for causing offence with the campaign. Photo credit: Saumil Dave / Twitter

A billboard emblazoned with a beaming Kim Jung-un will be removed after the campaign, promoting a vegan food company, was slammed as racist.

Located in Cardiff, the capital of Wales, the 50-foot advertisement by the London-based Soulful Food Company features the North Korean dictator exclaiming, "Ahhh, Soul" while holding a pair of chopsticks and a dish of Korean food.

According to a report by The Sun, the slogan appears to be derived from the Japanese expression, 'ā sō' - like the English, 'ah, so' - which signals understanding but is also commonly used to mock an East Asian accent.

Photos of the billboard taken by passers-by have circulated on social media, with several users calling out the company for encouraging racism.

"I just want to know why Soulful Food Co thought such a racist ad would be a good idea in November 2020," one wrote.

"How did it get to this point that NO ONE on your team recognized that this was racist?" another said. "Do you have any non-white people on it and what positions do they hold? Absolutely ridiculous."

Yet others have rushed to the company's defence, with one calling the billboard the "best bit of advertising ever". 

"People actually notice things especially when it is controversial... I personally think it is brilliant and brightened up my day," they wrote.

Another comment from Thursday morning likened the billboard's opposers to "humourless snowflakes".

Soulful Food Company is also responsible for another billboard promoting its Mexican-inspired products. The advertisement instead features US President Donald Trump, clutching a plate of food and a fork with the slogan: "Mexicans. I love 'em". 

The billboard, shared by the company's Twitter on Wednesday, has also received mixed reviews. While some Twitter users have dubbed it "brilliant" and "sassy", others have complained of the company's "disgusting" profiting off racist advertising.

In a statement to local media, a spokesperson apologised on behalf of the company for any offence their campaign may have caused. 

"We're really sorry we've caused offence and realize we have made a misjudgment with this advert. Our intention was to highlight the world needs more soul right now, but we got the message wrong. 

"We will be taking them down as soon as possible."