PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds developer PUBG Corp. has apologized for an in-game helmet depicting the Japanese Rising Sun flag found in the mobile version of the battle royale game after Korean and Chinese players deemed the design to be offensive.
The cosmetic item featured the Japanese rising sun flag, which is reference to the country's imperial army and its World War 2-era military aggression and is comparable to putting in the Swastika in an innocuous game setting.
To a Western audience the design may not seem insensitive, but in Asian countries it carries connotations of far-right ideology and ultra-nationalism.
It has since been removed from the mobile game, and players who purchased the item pack have been issued refunds and told the item included "a previously undetected bug".
In addition to finding rising sun imagery in PlayerUnknown's Battleground mobile, the bot ‘Unit 731’ was also discovered, which is a reference to a division of the Japanese army that developed chemical weapons and conducted human experiments on Chinese and Korean prisoners of war. This name has also been removed from the game.
PUBG Corp. (whose parent company is the Seoul-based Bluehole) issued an apology for the helmet via The Korean Times, stating: “We apologize for causing concerns over a pilot mask item. We will conduct an overall re-examination of our image production process to prevent such a recurrence. We will enhance procedures to scrutinize game items before their release and hold the person in charge responsible.”