BTS have faced a widespread backlash in China following a comment they made regarding the Korean War.
In a recent speech, band leader RM spoke of South Korea’s shared “history of pain” with the US that stems from the conflict.
The war lasted from 1950-53 and saw the UN, with large support from the US, backing South Korea in their fight against the North – who were backed by China and the USSR.
Accepting an award which recognised the relationship between the two countries, RM said: “We will always remember the history of pain that our two nations shared together and the sacrifices of countless men and women.”
RM’s comments have seemingly had a huge impact on the band’s lucrative marketing deals in China, with adverts featuring the band by companies such as Hyundai, Samsung and Fila disappearing from social media platforms such as Weibo.
The K-Pop group, who are the best-selling music artists in South Korea’s history, also provoked widespread backlash from fans.
“They should not make any money from China,” one fan said on Weibo, per The Guardian. “If you want to make money from Chinese fans you have to consider Chinese feelings.”
Another said: “There were thousands of Chinese soldiers who sacrificed their lives in the war … so I decided to be angry and quit the boy band’s fan club to express my clear attitude.”
The row comes days after BTS fans called for the K-Pop group to be exempt from mandatory military service in South Korea.
All able-bodied males aged between 18 and 28 are legally required to serve in the military for around two years as part of the country’s defence policy against North Korea.
The eldest BTS member, Jin, turned 27 last December and must therefore sign up for military service by the end of 2021. His bandmates – RM, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V, and Jungkook – are aged between 23 and 27, and will reach the age of conscription over the next few years.
Fans and some politicians in South Korea are now claiming that the band have already done enough for their country, having become one of the biggest acts in the world since their formation in 2010.
Meanwhile, BTS are up for five awards at this year’s MTV EMAs: Best Song (‘Dynamite’), Best Pop, Best Group, Biggest Fans, and Best Virtual Live. The 2020 ceremony will take place on November 8.