SEOUL (AP) – Chinese nationalists erupted in anger over South Korean boy band BTS after the leader thanked Korean war veterans for their sacrifices.
The singer, who goes through RM, made the comment in a recorded acceptance speech for an award from the Korea Society for advancing US-Korea relations.
“We will always remember the history of pain that our two nations shared and the sacrifices of countless men and women,” RM said in the speech, which made no mention of China.
“After 70 years, the world we live in is much closer than before. Boundaries are blurring in many aspects, ”said RM. “As members of the global community, we need to build a deeper understanding and solidarity to be happier together.”
Chinese internet users and state media viewed RM’s comments as a blow to China, whose soldiers fought alongside North Korean forces in their failed attempt to annex South Korea in the 1950-53 war. They accused RM of ignoring China’s role in the war, which the Chinese Communist Party’s propaganda blames the United States, rather than North Korean leader Kim Il Sung’s attack on South Korea.
“I used to think that some BTS songs were pretty good. Now they seem to be covered in feces, ”said a commenter from microblogging service Sina Weibo. “Insulting China is absolutely not allowed.”
According to Sina Weibo, an account entitled “BTS Insults China” has been viewed more than 4.5 million times.
“Many Chinese netizens pointed out that the speech is good for US netizens, but the country played the role of an aggressor in the war,” said an article in the Global Times newspaper, which is controlled by the Chinese Communist Party.
The attacks reflect Beijing’s assertiveness abroad and continued Chinese sensitivity to the Korean peninsula.
When asked about the controversy, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said, “What I am saying is that our common commitment must be to look at history as a mirror, face the future, nurture peace. and promote friendship. “
The ruling party uses the fully state-controlled press to incite anger at foreign companies, celebrities, or governments for taking measures Beijing doesn’t like.
Last year, Chinese state television stopped broadcasting National Basketball Association games after the Houston Rockets general manager expressed support for anti-government protesters in Hong Kong. The broadcasts have resumed this week.
In 2017, Beijing destroyed South Korean retailer Lotte’s operations in China after the company sold land to the government of South Korea to install an anti-missile defense system that Chinese leaders opposed.
Since the war, Beijing has helped isolated North Korea donate oil and other aid to maintain a buffer between China and US-allied South Korea.
Online Chinese fan groups demanded an apology from BTS, calling for boycotts of an upcoming album and promotional events.
BTS-related products were missing from Samsung Electronics’ online stores and sports brand FILA this week on Chinese e-commerce websites, including Alibaba Group’s TMall and JD.com.
Global brands have sought to distance themselves from politically sensitive issues, particularly Taiwan, the self-governed island claimed by Beijing as part of its territory, and Hong Kong, the scene of pro-democracy protests.
In 2016, Hong Kong singer Denise Ho said cosmetics giant Lancome had canceled a concert to distance itself from its pro-democracy activism.
In the same year, Taiwan-born Korean pop singer Chou Tzu-yu apologized for shaking a Taiwanese flag on South Korean TV after criticism from China.
BTS has yet to respond, but South Korean fans reacted angrily.
“BTS fans come from all over the world, so all countries that took part in the Korean War will be familiar with China’s bullying,” said Johnny Kim, a South Korean engineer.
The feud arises on Thursday’s stock market debut of BTS’s management company, Big Hit Entertainment.
Hong Kong’s most prominent dissident, Joshua Wong, weighed in and criticized Beijing for “provoking unfounded anger and division”.
“There are still a lot of Korean war veterans around the world, including those from the United States, so it’s not reasonable for China to argue about this,” said Min-seong Lee, a student in Seoul.