The first rule in dealing with China is pretty simple: don’t offend China. South Korean boy band BTS is learning that lesson the hard way. The band has drawn the ire of Chinese nationalists after its lead singer, who goes by RM, thanked Korean War veterans for their sacrifices.
The singer made the remark in recorded video speech for an award from the Korea Society for promoting U.S.-Korean relations. “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 his speech. “After 70 years, the world we are living in is much closer than before. Boundaries in many aspects are getting more blurred, as members of the global community, we should build a deeper understanding and solidarity to be happier together.”
The fact the speech made no mention of China has Chinese nationalists fuming. Online fan groups in China are demanding an apology from BTS and are even calling for boycotts of their upcoming album and any promotional events the band has planned.
The ruling party in in China uses their state-controlled media to whip up anger against anyone that does something Beijing does not like. Just last year, the NBA found themselves at the center of controversy in China after the GM of the Houston Rockets expressed support for protestors in Hong Kong. Chinese State TV suspended broadcasts of NBA games following the comments.
As for BTS, the battle comes as their management company, Big Hit Entertainment makes its Stock Market debut today. BTS is also making a splash here in the US as the first Korean act to have singles at no. 1 and no. 2 spots on the Billboard hot 100 simultaneously.