"Chinese netizens said the band’s totally one-sided attitude to the Korean war hurts their feelings and negates history," tweeted the state-run Global Times.By The Staff - Oct 14, 2020
BTS Performs on The Tonight Show. (Image: YouTube)
After a member of the wildly-popular K-pop group BTS issued a thank you to South Korean War veterans for their service during the Korean War, Chinese nationalists have taken to social media to express their anger at what they see as an insult to China, which fought on the side of North Korea during the war.
The BTS singer, who goes by the name RM, made the remarks during a recorded acceptance speech while the group was receiving an award from US-based non-profit organization The Korea Society for the boy band’s role in promoting South Korean relations with the United States.
“We will always remember the history of pain that our two nations shared together and the sacrifices of countless men and women,” RM said in the speech. “After 70 years, the world we are living in is much closer than before. Boundaries in many aspects are getting more blurred,” he added.
“As members of the global community, we should build a deeper understanding and solidarity to be happier together.”
Chinese netizens quickly responded calling for an end to BTS business interests in China, where the band has upwards of 5 million fans on China’s social media platform Weibo.
“They should not make any money from China,” one user said on Weibo, according to The Guardian. “If you want to make money from Chinese fans you have to consider Chinese feelings.”
State-run media outlet the Global Times issued a tweet saying: “Chinese netizens said the band’s totally one-sided attitude to the Korean War hurts their feelings and negates history.”
South Korean boy band #BTS is strongly condemned on #China's social media for their speech after receiving James A. Van Fleet Award. Chinese netizens said the band's totally one-sided attitude to the #KoreanWar hurts their feelings and negates history. pic.twitter.com/NaycIBzJwH
— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) October 11, 2020
According to AP News quoting Sina Weibo, an account titled “BTS Insults China” had been viewed more than 4.5 million times.
An article in the state-run Global Times took an aggressive stance towards the remarks.
“Two nations he referred to are the US and South Korea. Many Chinese netizens pointed out that the speech plays up to US netizens, but the country played the role of aggressor in the war.”
Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, Zhao Lijian struck a lighter note saying, “What I want to say is that it should be our common pursuit to take history as a mirror, face the future, cherish peace and promote friendship.”
According to media reports, South Korea consumer electronics giant Samsung pulled special edition BTS smartphones and earphones from Chinese eCommerce platforms such as JD.com and Tmall.
It was additionally reported that other brands including Hyundai and Fila have also pulled BTS-related posts from their official Weibo accounts.
“Many Chinese netizens pointed out that the speech plays up to US netizens, but the country played the role of aggressor in the war.”
This is not the first time that global brands have sought to distance themselves from politically sensitive issues in China. Controversial topics including territorial issues related to Taiwan and pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong have seen many brands side with the stance of mainland China rather than risk hurting business interests in the massive market.
In 2019 Chinese state TV pulled broadcasts of National Basketball Association games after the general manager of the Houston Rockets, Darryl Morey tweeted support for pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong. He later apologized for the now-deleted tweet that spoke in support of Hong Kong protesters.
1/ I did not intend my tweet to cause any offense to Rockets fans and friends of mine in China. I was merely voicing one thought, based on one interpretation, of one complicated event. I have had a lot of opportunity since that tweet to hear and consider other perspectives.
— Daryl Morey (@dmorey) October 7, 2019
The controversy in China comes as BTS management agency Big Hit Entertainment is set to go public with an IPO in Seoul. The expected value of the company is said to be as high as $4 billion.
“There were thousands of Chinese soldiers who sacrificed their lives in the war. You are South Korean people and you can say that, but I am Chinese so I decided to be angry and quit the boy band’s fan club to express my clear attitude,” one BTS fan surnamed Li told the Global Times on Sina Weibo.
According to the Korea Times, some fans have declared support for the group and that BTS was being bullied for being “unpatriotic.”
However, the report added, others expressed their regret over the singer’s remark, saying that nationality is more important than being a fan.
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