The Simon Wiesenthal Centre, a Jewish human rights organisation based in the US, issued a statement denouncing South Korean boy band BTS for wearing hats with a logo similar to a Nazi symbol and flying Nazi-like flags at a concert in 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,” the statement said.
Known as Bodan Shonendan in Japan, BTS has been under fire as one of its seven members once wore a T-shirt with an image of the atomic bombing. The group’s participation in a music show on the TV Asahi network on Friday was canceled because of the controversy.
The shirt worn by Park Jimin of BTS in October 2017, that set off the current controversy
The boy band, whose members are all in their 20s, have achieved huge worldwide success with polished dance moves, diverse music, their own production, original songs and honest musical topics that appeal to their young audience. In the past 12 months they’ve broken traffic records on YouTube and amassed numerous awards, including the American Music Awards over the past two years.
Meanwhile AFP reported that the managers of BTS have issued an extensive apology after controversy erupted in the lucrative Japanese market over a T-shirt worn by one of the vocalists showing a nuclear blast.
In a 1,000-word statement released in Korean, English and Japanese, management firm Big Hit Entertainment repeatedly offered its “sincerest apologies”.
It sought to distance the septet from the row, saying it bore responsibility, and went on: “Big Hit does not condone any activities of war or the use of atomic weapons.”
Responding to further accusations the K-pop stars had used Nazi imagery, the company said it opposed all organisations “oriented towards political extremism and totalitarian beliefs including Nazism”.
Known for their boyish good looks, floppy haircuts and meticulously choreographed dance moves, BTS have become South Korea’s best-known and most valuable musical exports. A year ago the group also spoke at the UN in New York with their message of self-worth, ‘Loving Yourself’ and ‘equality for all genders and races’.
BTS speaking at the UN in New York as part of the UN program for youth
They sold 380,000 tickets for their current Japanese tour, and their singles sell hundreds of thousands of copies each. The tickets for their Japanese tour sold out in two minutes.
But South Koreans bitterly resent Tokyo’s brutal 1910-45 colonisation of the peninsula, which came to an end with Japan’s Second World War defeat after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Historical issues still weigh heavily on the relationship between the neighbours, both of them market democracies and US allies, even while they share widespread business and cultural connections.
Japanese television station TV Asahi last week cancelled a performance by BTS after a photo went viral of band member Jimin wearing the offending shirt.
The garment featured the phrase “PATRIOTISM OUR HISTORY LIBERATION KOREA” repeated multiple times alongside an image of an atomic bomb explosion and another of Koreans celebrating their independence.
As the row escalated, images emerged of a concert last year where BTS wore uniforms and waved flags that critics said recalled Nazi symbols, and a 2014 photoshoot in which band leader RM wore a cap bearing an SS Death’s Head logo.
The SS played a key role in the Nazi mass murder of six million Jews during the Holocaust and a prominent Jewish human rights group accused the band of “mocking the past”.
“It goes without saying that this group owes the people of Japan and the victims of Nazism an apology”, said Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Los Angeles.
“Those designing and promoting this group’s career are too comfortable with denigrating the memory of the past,” he added.
In its statement, published on Facebook late Tuesday, Big Hit Entertainment said the performance in question was of a song by veteran South Korean band Seo Taiji, “Classroom Idea”, which “levies social criticism against rigidly standardised education”.
The display was intended to criticise totalitarianism and was “in no way associated with National Socialism”, it added.
But it “had no intention of causing distress or pain” and was contacting atomic bombs victim associations in Japan and Korea and the the Simon Wiesenthal Centre to explain and apologise, it added.
Big Hit said it had failed to provide “necessary and careful support to our artists”, who were “in no way responsible for any of the issues”.
BTS are the leading lights of the K-pop phenomenon and made history earlier this year by becoming the first K-pop band to top the US album charts, twice, a sign of the genre’s growing global appeal.
South Korea’s top court last month ordered a Japanese steel giant to compensate victims of wartime forced labour programmes, and Min suggested Japanese networks were “making an example of BTS because of the anti-Korean sentiment in Japan”.
Last week’s Blackpink single-day YouTube viewing record has been beaten by fellow K-Pop supremos BTS notching up 78 million views for their “Boy With Luv” music video within its first 24 hours of hitting the video site. (Three days later it’s on 129 million with 7.8 million ‘likes’ and still going…)
K-pop rival Blackpink managed 56.7 million for “Kill This Love” just beating out Ariana Grande’s “Thank U, Next” with 55.4 million. Just behind was another BTS song “Idol” which had 45.9 million views in its first 24 hours on YouTube.
The new record of 78 million clicks in just one day will be a high bar to jump over as musicians around the world ponder the K-Pop phenomenon and, in particular, the global popularity of BTS – who sing mostly in Korean.
The new BTS video also racked up 2 million comments over that initial 24 hours period.
The Korean septet of RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope Jimin, V and Jungkook performed live on Saturday Night Live to broad acclaim, including all their sharp dance moves whilst singing totally live with a live band backing them (along with a few mic problems) – a rarity in modern music performance.
The new Boy With Luv music video, a collaboration with Halsey, is an ode to the golden era of cinema with references to the movie ‘Singing in the Rain’.
Korean pop kings BTS’ video for their 2018 “Fake Love” received 35.9 million views in its first 24 hours, making it the biggest 24 hour debut of 2018 and the third biggest 24 hour debut of all time.
But that’s nothing compared to the impact of the new BTS release, a collaboration with American singer Halsey. “Boy with Luv” has amassed nearly 60 million views in its first 12 hours on its way to ??? by the end of the first 24 hours. Over 100 million?
And the song is mostly in Korean language, not English, so the worldwide popularity of the video has record industry executives choking on their double lattes this morning.
The video clip is a lush, highly stylised retro world of American diners and cinema frontages, paying homage to 50s Hollywood musicals. In their first major comeback for 2019 the South Korean septet have stuck to their formula of vibrant international pop with every member taking the spotlight at some stage during the video.
BTS now occupies 3 slots on the top 10 all time 24 hour debut list, with their 2017 video for “DNA” in the top ten as well with 22.3 million views (it’s now at 695 million).
The “Boys With Luv” video exploded on YouTube immediately after its release, receiving over 4.8 million views in its first hour.
BTS also hold the second and third slot for the most “likes” in a single day, with their videos ‘DNA’ (#2 with 2.3 million) and ‘MicDrop, Steve Aoki Remix’ (#3 with 2.3 million).
Although the song is officially titled as a collaboration with Halsey, YouTubers are wondering where she is most of the video by her vocals can be heard throughout the choruses. She has also been credited as one of the writing team (along with Hitman Bang, RM and Jungkook) in the credits under her real name ‘Ashley Frangipane‘
“Boy With Luv” is the first single in the long-awaited new album from BTS “Map of the Soul – Persona”.
Temperatures are soaring around the country, right on time, as the Songkran holiday kicks in. People are heading home for the annual Thai New Year break whilst the tourists are flooding into the main hot spots for the water fights.
The annual celebration is meant to provide a ritual washing of Buddha images, ‘gentle’ splashing of family and friends and an ushering in of the country’s wet season. But in recent decades the ‘gentle’ splashing has ramped up and turned into massive water fights in many parts of the country. Tomorrow there will little chance of remaining dry if you venture outside.
As the temperature rose to 42°C in Lampang and Tak, several other provinces cited 41-40°C yesterday morning, the Thai Meteorological Department warned residents in the north, northeast, centre and east of very hot weather with possible Songkran storms between April 13-17.
“People must beware of stormy weather and gusty wind and stay away from big trees and unsecured billboards, the agency said.
At 5am today the temperature was forecast for Loei and Kanchanaburi at 41°C while Mae Hong Son, Nan, Phetchabun, Khon Kaen, Nakhon Ratchasima, Ubon Ratchathani and Nakhon Sawan were set for 40°C.
Bangkok will reach 37°C whilst Phuket will be hot and humid with 33°C and a sweaty evening only getting down to 27°C. Chiang Mai will swelter in 40°C heat.
Songkran, for real, starts tomorrow although expect some early starters to get the water pistols out this afternoon and tonight in places like Khao San Road in Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Bangla Road in Phuket.