A social media platform run by Internet giant Tencent has apologized and removed emojis based on World War II sex slaves, amid public outrage over the creations that were deemed disrespectful to war victims.
The emojis, circulated on Qzone, used stills from a popular documentary film Twenty Two, which featured 22 then surviving Chinese comfort women who were forced into prostitution by the Japanese army during the Second World War. The film premiered on August 14.
One emoji showed one of the women wiping tears with a caption that read "speechless and choking with sobs." Another emoji was about a sex slave resting her head on her hand with a sad expression, with the accompanying caption "I was really wronged."
Those emojis were no longer available on Qzone as of Tuesday although screenshots could still be found online.
Chinese netizens were outraged after the emojis went viral, with one saying "you cannot use something very serious to make emojis which are used for teasing people, and it's also immoral and disrespectful to those poor war victims."
Under the public spotlight, Qzone issued an apology on its Weibo account on Monday afternoon, saying that they had removed those emojis, which were provided by a third party.
"The incident has exposed flaws in our content supervision and reviewing system. We will conduct self-investigation and improve the related systems," said the statement.
The third party mentioned by Qzone has not responded to the incident as of press time.
An estimated 200,000 women were forced into sexual servitude in China during World War II, but only 14 in the Chinese mainland are still alive after another one passed away on August 12.