A handful of multinational brands have reportedly distanced themselves from Korean group BTS following backlash in China over a remark made by its group leader.
According to a Reuters report, the criticism was triggered by group leader RM’s speech where he spoke about the Korean War and referenced the “history of pain” shared between South Korea and the US. BTS had been awarded by New York non-profit Korean Society over their contributions to the two countries’ relations.
During the October 7 ceremony, RM said in reference to the Korean War, which began 70 years ago: “We will always remember the history of pain that our two nations shared together, and the sacrifices of countless men and women.” The Korean War saw South Korea and the US battle China and North Korea.
The “innocuous remark,” said the New York Times, triggered a wave of outrage in China, because RM supposedly failed to acknowledge the sacrifices of Chinese soldiers, who had fought alongside North Korea.
Following the backlash, Reuters said Samsung’s line of BTS special edition gadgets disappeared from Chinese e-commerce platforms. Activewear brand FILA, which BTS endorses, also reported removed Weibo posts that mentioned the South Korean group. Hyundai, which recently launched a campaign that stars the group, similarly deleted posts on the Chinese social media platform.
Reuters, however, notes that it’s unclear if the posts were removed by the brand or other parties. Neither Samsung, FILA, Hyundai, or BTS’s management company Big Hit Entertainment have responded to requests for comment.
According to the Times, at least 200,000 South Korean soldiers, 37,000 American soldiers, 180,000 Chinese soldiers, and millions of civilians died as a result of the Korean war.
BTS is certainly not the first international celebrity to have come under fire in China, the world’s second-largest economy. But the backlash comes at a crucial time for the band and Big Hit – the company is set to go public in Seoul in an initial public offering that’s seen to put the company’s value at over $4 billion.
BTS is, undoubtedly, among the biggest music groups in the world. Longtime superstars in their tours and on social media, the group recently became the first all-Korean act to top the Billboard charts – a feat several K-Pop artists had attempted but failed to achieve.
Days after the now-controversial remark about the Korean War, BTS and Big Hit streamed Map of the Soul: ON:E Concert, a two-day event that saw the group perform before millions of fans – affectionately called ARMY – worldwide. – Rappler.com