Wooyoung Allegedly Calling Out Plagiarism Has ATEEZ Fans Freaking Out
There's is a reason behind the idol being so sassy.
With Street Man Fighter (SMF), a new show about street dancing crews competing with each other, becoming popular in Korea, a lot of attention recently has been directed at everyone's choreography. Watching the show, K-pop fans have learned more about the dance culture overall and the field-specific professional language that goes along with it. This is how ATINYs (ATEEZ' fans) were able to spot something unusual was going on, suggesting that K-pop group might have tried to say something during their recent performances.
At several festivals, ATEEZ performed their song Say My Name, and a few members stood out performing an unusual gesture prior to one of their choreo's parts: they folded two arms in front of themselves and then 'opened' and 'closed' them several times.
This 'biting' gesture has become widely known among K-pop fans who watched Street Man Fighter. It is a part of sign language often used by professional street dancers. By 'biting' the air with your forearms, you let everyone around know that the move performed was plagiarized, stolen, and not the dancers' own work or idea. This is a very serious claim, and if the accusation is correct then the dancer loses all respect from the dancers' community. Yet it is still a subtle way for professionals to communicate with each other, without attracting the general public's eye and creating scandals by sorting things out.
Turns out, by using the language everyone on SMF knows, one of ATEEZ' members confidently doing the 'biting' gesture, Jung Wooyoung, might be calling out one of the show's participants, Vata. In the round where contestants had to create the entirely original choreography for Zico's song New Thing, Vata presented his choreography; however, one move that resembles driving or pushing a shopping cart in front of yourself with swag is uncannily similar to ATEEZ' move in Say My Name choreography. If this is true and the move was indeed 'stolen', ATINYs acknowledge Wooyoung being professional when dealing with such a controversy.
"Tbh I think this is the classiest way he could have done this, basically from one dancer to another, saying hey that's not cool bruh. Might not look like much to the average person but the one who it's directed towards will know exactly what he means." – u/seonghwasmoons
Fans have found several problems with Vata's dancing. First of all, the dancer claimed this move was a part of his original choreography for the SMF challenge, without giving any credit to ATEEZ' choreographers, Josh Smith, Johnny Erasme, and Anze Skrube, who worked on Say My Name. In one of the videos Anze reacted to Say My Name dance practice, explaining in detail how the 'gliding part' was created by Josh Smith and putting an emphasis on the deliberate decision to make a viral move. Fans are inclined to trust his words more: they claim Vata might have used the viral potential of this dance for his own gain.
Secondly, Vata's dance was pretty soon picked up by others, and this particular move has become viral. Many idols started to join the 'driving dance challenge', thinking Vata is the original choreographer. The confusion about the creator of this viral dance turned out to be massive when Koreans started asking why ATEEZ are performing the dance challenge in the middle of their own song number. ATINYs think it's not fair for both the group and choreographers. The fans also claim that Vata has danced with ATEEZ members before so he must have known their choreographies, and it couldn't be just a simple, honest mistake. Some people even call him a hypocrite because Vata has been calling out other dancers who copied choreo on Street Man Fighter before.
Meanwhile, Zico and his dancers themselves subtly shared their opinion on this matter as well. Even if Vata's choreography for New Thing was picked up by others, the artist doesn't use the controversial part when he performs his song on the stage, neither it's included in his announcement of the New Thing dance challenge, even if other K-pop idols add it as Vata does. It seems like this omission might be intentional, and Zico is aware that the credit should be where it's due.
"Zico's dancers are bbtrippin and bbtrippin works with Ateez. The bbtrippin dancers didn't include the driving part of Vata's choreo when they danced it with Zico either. They have performed the "say my name" choreo with Ateez before, so they surely know the two choreographies look uncannily similar." – u/je-suis_meeeee
Anze Skrube has also acknowledged the situation by posting on his Instagram stories about the issue and the meaning of the 'biting'. Basically he confirmed that this move was created by Josh Smith and not Vata.
It seems that ATEEZ members didn't like the spotlight stolen from them and their choreographers so abrasively, that's why they addressed this controversy openly yet in a professional manner in their Say My Name performances. ATINYs are also sure that there is a difference between being inspired and respectfully acknowledging it, and boldly claiming the dance used for another artist as their own and being proud of it.
The fans enjoyed Wooyoung's sassy behaviour on stage and praised him for protecting the hard work of ATEEZ' choreographers and not being silent on the plagiarism matter which unfortunately happens more often in the K-pop industry than wanted.
"My jaw is on the floor. Wooyoung is one of the maknae line but his brazenness (positive) is admirable. He's willing to go to the mat for ATEEZ." – u/jaemjenism