When BTS received an award for this year’s Van Fleet Award, leader RM made a speech celebrating the relations between the US and South Korea. The award, given annually since 1995 by The Korea Society, is awarded to Koreans or Americans in recognition of their outstanding contributions promoting US-Korea relations.
In his speech, RM said, “Korea Society’s 2020 Gala is especially meaningful as this year marks the Korean War’s 70th anniversary. We will always remember the history of pain that our two nations shared together and the sacrifices of the countless men and women”.
Chinese netizen blew it out of proportion
However, some Chinese netizens took issue with his speech which contained the phrase “two nations”, claiming that BTS has ignored the sacrifices of Chinese troops who participated in the Korean War. But here’s the thing: China supported North Korea, against the US and South Korea, during the war.
Apparently, this whole issue blew up when one Chinese citizen cut and translated RM’s speech to fit their own narrative, and the video spread like wildfire on Weibo, the country’s largest social media outlet. Chinese netizens then showed their patriotism and argued for Samsung products to be boycotted because “we can never tolerate matters relating to national dignity.”
Assaulted for having Samsung phone
Chinese e-commerce sites immediately stopped stocking Samsung’s new Galaxy S20 BTS edition (it’s not clear if Samsung pull them out or if they were out of stock). On October 13, a Weibo screenshot conversation revealed that a Chinese citizen who had a BTS phone was assaulted – she suffered injuries to her face and had a leg broken to the point that she had to be hospitalised for a month. Chinese netizens showed no mercy, criticising the victim for being a BTS fan in the comments.
The controversy grew so out of hand that even FILA and Hyundai pulled out all their ads in China that featured BTS, including online videos and photos. One lecturer who was due to give a talk on BTS and the effect of K-pop was told, overnight, to replace BTS with another band or change the theme of the talk entirely.
Many Koreans – and ARMY (as fans of BTS are known) – expressed anger at the Chinese response, citing that they had taken the speech out of context and were baffled at why the Chinese were angry when BTS didn’t even mention China, who were fighting against South Korea in the first place. “Why would BTS talk about the sacrifices of the country that fought on the enemy side anyway?“
Chinese website illegally streamed BTS’ latest concert
On October 12, it was reported by Star News that BTS’ latest online concert, Map of the Soul ON:E, was being illegally distributed online on Chinese video site, bibili. It was posted on the last day of BTS’ concert on October 11, and includes the full 2.5-hour online performance. The number of views for the video exceeded 20,000 views as of the day of report.
Many Korean netizens and ARMY are also baffled to hear that despite the current situation in response to RM’s speech that there’s still demand for BTS’ online concert.