The Simon Wiesenthal Center has accused the band of “mocking the past” and highlighted an incident where one member was photographed wearing a hat featuring a Nazi symbol.
“Wearing a T-shirt in Japan mocking the victims of the… A-bomb, is just the latest incident of this band mocking the past,” Rabbi Abraham Cooper said in a statement to The Guardian.
BTS were due to appear on the Japanese television network Asahi but were dropped after a photo of Jimin – wearing a T-shirt adorned with the well-known image of a mushroom cloud rising over Nagasaki – went viral.
The singer had worn the controversial item while appearing on the group’s reality TV show BTS: Bon Voyage.
Cooper also referred to an alleged image of one band member wearing a hat featuring the symbol for Death’s Head Units, an SS organisation who administered the Nazi concentration camps. The rabbi also pointed to images of the band posing for pictures next to the Holocaust memorial in Berlin.
“It goes without saying that this group, which was invited to speak at the UN, owes the people of Japan and the victims of the Nazism an apology,” the statement continued.
“But that is not enough. It is clear that those designing and promoting this group’s career are too comfortable with denigrating the memory of the past. The result is that 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. The management of this group, not only the front performers, should publicly apologise.”
After the group were dropped from Japanese television, BTS apologised for the cancellation but did not comment on the T-shirt controversy.
The incident was a small setback for the band, which have been described as the biggest band in the world. Over the weekend, they picked up the People’s Choice Award for best musical group, and recently became the first K-pop band to ever top the Billboard 100 chart – doing so twice within the span of a few months.
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