NI 9

Creating costumes for idol singer groups can’t be an easy job. If you’re going for cute, designers already hit the limit for the number of frills a single item of clothing can hold sometime around October of 1986. Hot pants are an easy way to achieve short-term crowd-pleasing sexiness, but that might interfere with the girl-next-door image the most successful acts cultivate.

So instead of sweet or sultry, you might settle on snappy. That’s what the four members of Korea’s Pritz have been doing in some of their recent appearances, where they’ve shown up in matching black skirts and crisply pressed black shirts buttoned at the collars. Oh, and to add just a dash of attempted systematical genocide to the ensemble, what look like Nazi armbands.

Pritz, which stands for “Pretty Rangers in Terrible Zone,” is still in its first year of activity, meaning you have to expect a few missteps and media blunders as the group tries out different identities and forms its image. As is the norm for pop singers in Asia, the members are all young, so much so that to them World War II was probably long enough ago it may as well have happened in a different world.

Still, it’s hard to see how none of the handlers at Pandagram, the talent agency Pritz is associated with, looked at this set of costumes and saw a potential problem.

▼ Well, I guess they’re a little drab, but I don’t see what the big deal-

NI 1

▼ …oh.

NI 2

Turn off the sound, and it’s sort of hard to guess if the cheerfully smiling quartet is saying “Thanks for coming out!” or “Sieg heil!” to all their fans.

We should mention that Pritz doesn’t always trot out on stage wearing such startling bits of flair. In October, for example, they went through a whole performance without wearing anything that would make you think they were about to start rounding up undesirables for ethnic cleansing.

Still, the armbands weren’t a one-time thing, as the four also sported them at a recent horse track performance, because apparently pop music and fascism are the peanut butter and jelly of the gambling world.

▼ Even the anthropomorphic horse mascot looks baffled by what’s going on.

NI 3

Still, you can only come so close to copying the style of modern history’s most infamous military aggressors for so long before some people start picking up on the similarities. When asked about the armbands, however, Pandagram said it never expected for them to be associated with the Nazis. The agency claims they were inspired by road signs, and are meant to convey the meaning of “limitlessly expanding in four directions.”

NI 4

Well, it is true that the armbands lack swastikas. One Korean Twitter user even pointed out that more so than that of the Nazis, Pritz’s insignias resemble those of Hungary’s defunct Arrow Cross Party. We have to agree, it’s a pretty close match.

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What was the Arrow Party? Well, it was a political group active in the 1930s and ‘40s, with a fascist, ultra-nationalist, and militantly anti-Semitic philosophy. So…basically Hungary’s version of the Nazis.

▼ Is it any more pleasant being mauled by a Hungarian brown bear than a German one?

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We said before it’s hard to believe no one at Pandagram noticed the similarities to Nazi and/or Arrow Party paraphernalia, and some online commentators say it’s impossible. Pritz is still finding its footing in the music world (see: playing afternoon gigs at horse racing tracks), and with a new single that just came out, some suspect their controversial attire is a planned publicity stunt.

▼ Watching the teaser video, which opens with the members lying dead on the floor, and includes this image, it’s good to know that when the group isn’t offending people, it’s still doing all it can to make them feel uncomfortable.

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Still, we suppose there’s some small, miniscule chance that Pritz’s armbands are neither the result of an astounding lack of knowledge about world history not a shock tactic. We’re really having to rack our brains to come up with any other explanations, though.

▼ The costume designer being addicted to the classic Neo Geo series Metal Slug is about all we’ve got.

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Sources: Wall Street Journal Asia via Kotaku Japan
Top image: YouTube
Insert images: YouTube (1, 2), Wikipedia/Thommy, Listupon, YouTube (3), Taringa