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BTS adverts and merchandise disappear in China after backlash over Korean War comments

Written by on 13 October 2020

Superstar K-pop group BTS are facing backlash in China over comments made about the Korean War.

The leader of the band, known as RM, caused controversy after he said South Korea and the US share a “history of pain” over the 1950-53 conflict, in which the two countries fought together.

His comments caused anger as China backed North Korea during the war – and may have also impacted the band’s advertising deals.

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BTS have featured in adverts for brands including Samsung, Fila and Hyundai – these have all now disappeared from various Chinese websites and social media platforms, but it is unclear who removed the posts.

Special edition BTS smartphones and earphones, produced by South Korean tech giant Samsung, have also been removed from Chinese e-commerce platforms such as Tmall and JD.com.

RM’s comment was made during a speech after the band accepted an award for their contribution to US-South Korea relations.

He said: “We will always remember the history of pain that our two nations shared together and the sacrifices of countless men and women.”

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K-pop has a large following in China, and BTS have around five million fans on Weibo – a popular social media platform in the country.

One user on Weibo commented: “They [BTS] should not make any money from China,” adding “If you want to make money from Chinese fans you have to consider Chinese feelings.”

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According to the Global Times, a state-run newspaper in China, “Chinese netizens said the band’s totally one-sided attitude to the Korean War hurts their feelings and negates history”.

It went on to add that the comment was made to “play up” to US audiences.

During the Korean War, around 200,000 South Korean soldiers and 36,000 American soldiers died. Chinese state media reports 180,000 Chinese soldiers also died.