Back in 2019, the ‘Life Goes On’ singer had allegedly uploaded an image on his official YouTube community tab to promote his ‘Goodbye Farewell Tour’. Fans were quick to notice that the image was a photo from the funeral of SHINee member Jonghyun, who died in 2017, with Tree photoshopped in place of the late K-pop idol. The post was reportedly taken down soon after.
However, over the past week, archived screenshots of Tree’s 2019 post started resurfacing online, leading to a wave of criticism from fans, who started to trend “#apology_Olivertree” on social media. “I don’t understand how someone could be so inconsiderate,” wrote one fan. “We need a proper apology.”
— 이응 (@dl_dmd_) October 10, 2021
i dont understand how someone could be so inconsiderate and use someone's trauma for attention. that was just inhuman and disgusting. we need a proper apology.
— math ❅ (@shineesteeth) October 10, 2021
Tree has since issued a personal apology over his use of the image, through an Instagram Story post on October 11. “I want to apologise to [Jonghyun] and everyone who was hurt by the image. I had no intention of hurting anyone,” he wrote, claiming that he and his team “didn’t know where the image was taken from.”
“Had we known, we never would have posted it,” Tree added, saying that there was “no intention of anything malicious” over the photoshopped image. “[It was] just [a result of] no research which caused a very foolish mistake.”
[UPDATE] Korean netizens remain angered and disturbed by Oliver Tree's usage of Jonghyun's funeral photo despite his apology. pic.twitter.com/ViZqNdGHQq
— SMTOWN UPDATES (@aerisnews) October 11, 2021
Despite his apology, fans have called Tree out for what they perceive as an “unacceptable” apology, due to the temporary nature of an Instagram Story. Some fans have also criticised the American singer for “mak[ing] this about him[self]”.
This is unacceptable!!! You want to apologize, but choose to post it on an Instagram story which is by the way, only available for 24 hours. What’ll happen after that? It’s going to be vanished like this scandal never exists, isn’t it??? #apology_Olivertree #올리버트리_사과해 pic.twitter.com/wHFfPvGI0a
— 원이 (@wasbornevil) October 11, 2021
this is not a fucking apology. how the fuck did he manged to make this about him. SICK SICK SICK SICK SICK SICK SICK
how can you say death is suck a important topic to you and then do this kind of shit.#apologize_olivertree#올리버트리_사과해 pic.twitter.com/eHWHSf0uVn
— yoon♡⁷ (@etheralspring) October 10, 2021
Earlier this year, SHINee paid tribute to Jonghyun on April 8, which would have been the late singer’s 31st birthday. On the group’s official social media pages, the K-pop boyband shared a photo of the late South Korean singer, alongside hashtags of his name in English and Korean.
Meanwhile, members Key and Minho also paid tribute to Jonghyun on their respective personal Instagram accounts. Key posted a picture of Jonghyun striking a pose in a plaid suit while backstage at a concert. Minho’s homage to Jonghyun, on the other hand, features a photo of the late singer on stage.