BTS faces China backlash over Korean war comments

K-pop phenomenon BTS are facing a barrage of criticism in China after the South Korean boyband cited their country’s solidarity with the US stemming from the Korean war.

The band’s leader, RM, sparked outrage on social media in China when he cited the “history of pain” shared between South Korea and the US, who fought alongside each other in the 1950-53 conflict.

China came to the aid of North Korean forces during the war, which ended in an armistice agreement but not a peace treaty.

Accepting an award for the seven-member band’s contribution to US-South Korea relations, RM said: “We will always remember the history of pain that our two nations shared together and the sacrifices of countless men and women.”

Chinese netizens responded with demands to end the band’s commercial interests in China, where it has at least 5 million fans on the popular social media platform Weibo.

“They should not make any money from China,” one angry user said on Weibo. “If you want to make money from Chinese fans you have to consider Chinese feelings.”

As the criticism gathered pace, posts featuring BTS special edition smartphones and earphones, manufactured by the South Korean consumer electronics giant Samsung, disappeared from Chinese e-commerce platforms Tmall and

BTS-related posts from other companies, including sports fashion brand Fila and South Korean automaker Hyundai, which have endorsement deals with the group, also disappeared from their official Weibo accounts. It was not immediately clear who had removed the posts.

“Chinese netizens said the band’s totally one-sided attitude to the Korean war hurts their feelings and negates history,” China’s state-run newspaper Global Times noted in a tweet.

Describing the US as the “aggressor” in the war, the newspaper quoted a Chinese fan who had decided to quit the band’s fan club in protest. “There were thousands of Chinese soldiers who sacrificed their lives in the war … so I decided to be angry and quit the boy band’s fan club to express my clear attitude,” the fan said.

The row over the Korean war’s legacy broke out several days after an online BTS concert drew a huge global audience, and unfolded as the band clinched the two top spots on Billboard’s main singles chart.

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