BTS provoke backlash in China after Korean War comments

Singer RM had referred to a ‘shared history of pain’ between the US and South Korea

Louis Chilton
Tuesday 13 October 2020 07:41 BST
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Korean War begins

K-pop superstars BTS have provoked a backlash in China after a comment made by their bandleader regarding the Korean war.

Kim Nam-joon, known as RM, delivered a speech in which he refers to South Korea’s shared “history of pain” with the US stemming from the conflict.

The Korean war, which lasted from 1950 to 1953, saw the UN (predominantly the US) back South Korea, fighting against the North, who were supported by China and the USSR.

RM’s comments have reportedly affected the band’s lucrative Chinese commercial deals, as adverts featuring BTS from companies such as Samsung, Hyundai and Fila have disappeared from several Chinese websites (Tmall and JD.com) and social media platforms (Weibo).

BTS, who are currently the best-selling music artist in South Korea’s history, are also one of the most popular K-pop bands in China.

The controversial comments were made as the seven-piece boyband accepted an award recognising the relationship between South Korea and the US.

"We will always remember the history of pain that our two nations shared together and the sacrifices of countless men and women," said RM, while accepting the award.

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

The paper also named the US as the “aggressor” in the Korean war. While the war began when North Korea invaded the South in June 1950, China did not enter the war until the UN-South Korean offensive upwards into North Korea later that year.

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Across the course of the war, around 200,000 South Korean soldiers and 36,000 American soldiers died, as well as millions of civilians. According to the country’s state media, some 180,000  Chinese soldiers also perished.

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