"The Korean Zombie" Chan Sung Jung has inspired some unusual apparel, that has graced the likes of UFC president Dana White, among thousands of others.
However, this year TKZ is taking a far more serious approach to apparel.
Back in March "The Korean Zombie" Chan Sung Jung took UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre to task for wear the rising sun on his gi. via Facebook.
"Hi, My name is Chan Sung Jung from South Korea," wrote TKZ to GSP in a public letter. "As one of many Koreans who like you as an incredible athlete, I feel like I should tell you that many Korean fans, including myself, were shocked to see you in your gi designed after the Japanese ‘Rising Sun Flag’. For Asians, this flag is a symbol of war crimes, much like the German Hakenkreuzflagge. Did you know that? I hope not."
"The Japanese Government never gave a sincere apology, and still to this day, so many victims are dying in pain, heartbroken, without being compensated. But many westerners like to wear clothes designed after the symbol under which so many war crimes and so much tragedy happened, which is ridiculous."
"Since you’re influenced by Japanese Martial Arts, your wearing a headband designed after Japanese flag is understandable. But again, that huge ‘Rising Sun’ on your Gi means something else."
"You have a great influence on every single fan of yours all around the world. And I do believe your wearing ‘the symbol of War Crime’ is a very bad example for them, not to mention for yourself."
Both GSP and the gi manufacturer Hayabusa have offered apologies.
Welterweight champion, UFC
“I'd like to personally apologize to anyone who was offended by this,” St-Pierre wrote on Facebook. “I am very sorry, that was never my intention.”
President, Hayabusa Fightwear, went further, apologizing, and stating the gi would not be brought to market.
Since Georges St-Pierre wore our walkout gi at UFC 158 we have received attention surrounding the negative connotation of the rising sun graphic used. The last thing we want is to offend or alienate anyone with the choice of design on our products.
We at Hayabusa have the utmost respect for culture and history and appreciate all of our customers worldwide. As such, we accept full responsibility for this design and are taking all complaints and comments very seriously.
The gi worn by GSP will not be brought to market. In addition, we will be very conscious of this specific design element when developing future communication materials and products.
Please accept our sincerest apology for any offense this has caused.
Earlier in the season, UFC women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey wore a rising Sun tee on the set of The Ultimate Fighter, and Jung sent another letter, this time addressed to UFC President Dana White and UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta.
Bleacher Report obtained a copy.
Hi, Korean Zombie here. I'm delivering this message on behalf of over 800,000 members of combative sport café, one of the biggest MMA blogs in Korea. We have decided to take the time to speak up for what we know is right, because we do believe this is something that UFC management should absolutely be aware of. Let's get straight to the point.
It's about 'Rising Sun Flag' outfits. And our point is that this design is the symbol of war crimes, and that every single item designed after this symbol of war crimes should be kicked out of the UFC, firstly for justice, and then for the company.
Let bygones be bygones? Get over it? Unjustified invasion, torture, massacre, military and sexual slavery, medical experiments on living prisoners of war and many other war crimes scarred too many people. It can never be forgotten. This is a tragic history for all of us. Furthermore, the Japanese government never gave a sincere apology, and is even trying to justify and distort their dirty, nasty history. Still to this day, so many victims are dying in pain, heartbroken, without being properly compensated.
...I was happy because I thought we have succeeded in educating a chunk of the world on a very important issue, and that we no longer have to see that symbol of war crimes, at least around the Octagon. But a few days later, another UFC champion and the symbol of WMMA, Ronda Rousey was seen in that 'Rising Sun Flag' outfit. Two UFC champions wearing the symbol of war crimes! Don't you think this will be an awful example for our company, which actually does a lot of charity stuff for troops as well?
This sport, mixed martial arts, is growing very fast. And on the top of everything is the UFC. It's been crossing borders with great ease. The event was a great success in Europe, Australia and Brazil, and now it's time for Asia. As a fighter, I'm really excited and happy to see the sport growing, but I don't even want to imagine UFC fighters in those outfits, especially in Asia. A lot of furious, heartbroken people will boycott the UFC, leading to a loss of a lot of (potential) fans, which will end up leaving a very bad impression on the Asian market. I mean, can you imagine our fighters in Nazi outfits in Europe? For us Asians, it's nothing different.
There is no response yet from ZUFFA abotu TKZ's complaint about the symbol, which enjoys a very different connotation in the West than it does in Korea.