South Korean management company, Big Hit Entertainment, issued an apology on Tuesday on behalf of its superstar client, BTS.
The K-Pop group was called out for representing Nazism over the weekend by international Jewish human rights organization, the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
The “Bangtan Boys” faced major backlash for bearing Nazi-like insignia in public on a number of occasions. Most recently, because of a T-shirt depicting a mushroom cloud, which was considered insensitive to those affected by the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during the Second World War.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper issued a statement requesting an apology to not only the people of Japan and Korea but to all victims of Nazism. “It is clear that those designing and promoting this group’s career are too comfortable with denigrating the memory of the past,” he said.
“The result is that on young generations in Korea and around the world are more likely to identify bigotry and intolerance as being ‘cool’ and help erase the lessons of history,” he concluded.
Big Hit was quick to come back and defend themselves against these allegations, claiming the company and the artists they represent do not support Nazism. “We do not condone any groups oriented towards political extremism and totalitarian beliefs, including Nazism,” they wrote.
The earliest accusation of BTS representing National Socialism was in 2015, when singer Kim Nam-joon, best-known-as RM, wore a military hat during a photo shoot that had a swastika. Images from the shoot went viral.
Big Hit claimed in its apology that the hat was not the property of any of the band members, but apologized for its representation anyway.
“Although all apparel and accessories used during the photo shoot had been provided by the publication conducting the shoot, we would like to offer our sincere apologies for inadvertently inflicting pain and distress to anyone affected by totalitarian regimes,” the firm wrote on Facebook.
BTS fans have been divided by their speculations regarding the intentions of the band members’ recent outfit decisions.
The stylist from the shoot, Kim Wook, recently spoke to Soompi regarding the matter. He revealed the hat was not his property and backed up BTS by admitting that none of the members wore a hat when they arrived. “The hat was not one of their personal accessories,” he said.
“If I had to guess, I’d say that we just ended up using a product that happened to be in the studio at the time,” he concluded.
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Following this, a Japanese TV network, TV Asahi, cancelled a scheduled BTS performance on Music Station following images of singer Jimin (Park Ji-min), wearing the atomic bomb-depicting T-shirt.
The shirt portrayed the celebration of Korea’s liberation from Japan following the end of the Second World War. The reps believed it glorified the nuclear tragedies of 1945.
The creator of the shirt, Lee Kwang Jae, spoke out in a Q&A apologizing and admitting he had no intentions of offending anyone. “We did not intend to encourage anti-Japan sentiments,” he said. “We are very apologetic to BTS.”
BTS supporters were furious following the cancellation and leapt to defend the boys on Twitter. Many claimed the shirt was only to commemorate the liberation of Korea and not to offend the people of Japan.
This led to the “our history” T-shirt selling out worldwide.
The seven-piece was targeted once more after they flew what were interpreted as swastika-resembling flags in a sold-out concert. The symbol was circular and prominently featured red, black and white colours in a manner similar to the German Nazi party’s emblem.
The symbol turned out to be an ode to popular South Korean musician, Seo Taiji.
Once more, die-hard BTS fans were separated by their opinions and speculations.
The majority of fans are showing their support following the controversy.
As of this writing, BTS is still scheduled to headline two sold-out shows at Tokyo Dome in Japan on Wednesday and Thursday evening.
BTS is scheduled to take its Love Yourself tour extensively throughout Japan and the rest of Asia until April of 2019.