BTS’s agency apologizes over K-Pop band member’s A-bomb shirt

A man holds leaflets denouncing South Korean boy band BTS outside Tokyo Dome where the band’s concert is planned to be held, in Tokyo on Tuesday, November 13. (Reuters)
Updated 14 November 2018

BTS’s agency apologizes over K-Pop band member’s A-bomb shirt

SEOUL, South Korea: The agency for K-pop superstars BTS apologized Wednesday for members wearing a T-shirt depicting the explosion of an atomic bomb and a hat with a Nazi emblem.

Japanese TV broadcasters recently canceled planned appearances in that country after images went viral of the musician wearing the shirt. The South Korean band ran into more trouble after news surfaced that another member wore a hat featuring a Nazi symbol in a magazine photo book and band members flew flags with what appeared to be the Nazi swastika during a past concert.

“We would like to again offer our sincerest apologies to anyone who has suffered pain, distress and discomfort due to our shortcomings and oversight in ensuring that these matters receive our most careful attention,” the band’s agency, the Big Hit Entertainment, said in a statement

The T-shirt portrayed an atomic bombing juxtaposed with the celebration of Korea’s 1945 liberation from Japan at the end of the World War II. The United States dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki before Tokyo’s surrender.

Before its division into North and South Korea after the liberation, the Korean Peninsula was colonized by Japan from 1910-1945. Many in both Koreas still harbor strong resentment against the Japanese colonial masters. But in South Korea, it’s extremely rare for anyone to publicly celebrate or mock the atomic bombings.

BTS’s agency said the A-bomb shirt’s wearing was “in no way intentional” and that it wasn’t designed to “injure or make light of those affected by the use of atomic weapons.” It said it still apologizes for “failing to take the precautions that could have prevented the wearing of such clothing by our artist.”

Regarding the hat furor, it said all apparel and accessories used for the photo book were provided by a media company involved in its publication. It said the flags in question were aimed at symbolizing South Korea’s restrictively uniform and authoritarian educational systems, not Nazism.

“We will carefully examine and review not only these issues but all activities involving Big Hit and our artists based on a firm understanding of diverse social, historical and cultural considerations to ensure that we never cause any injury, pain or distress to anyone,” the agency statement said.

The seven-member band, which has worldwide following, was the first South Korean artists in May to top the Billboard 200 albums chart with “Love Yourself: Tear.” The band began its Japan tour earlier this week.

South Korean K-pop and movie stars are extremely popular in Japan and other Asian countries.


Local art scenes get more creative as pandemic keeps curtains closed

Updated 04 July 2020

Local art scenes get more creative as pandemic keeps curtains closed

DUBAI: All artists need to reinvent themselves to cope with changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, a veteran stand-up comedian said as he ventures on a four-country Zoom comedy tour that will kick off in the UAE.

Indian comedian Nitin Mirani said it was tough to adapt to how the entertainment industry is changing due to the pandemic, which forced a global shutdown of art and culture communities.

“Because of the pandemic, we have to now reincarnate. We have to be reborn. This is something we’ve never done before,” he told Arab News via Zoom, an increasingly popular platform not just for business meetings anymore, but also for the live-entertainment industry.

Although Mirani said he is enjoying the new experiences the pandemic has put him in as a comedian, he added that comedy is about “making moments with people,” which was been made difficult.

“Every art form comes with its own energy. I know that no matter how much you try, how hard you try, watching something online won’t give you goosebumps as much as watching Celine Dion hit one note live,” he said. “That’s the genesis of artform. It requires interaction. It’s an exchange of energies.”

Echoing Mirani’s sentiment was poet Dorian Paul Rogers, who founded Abu Dhabi-based culture and arts organization Rooftop Rhythms in 2012, and has been involved in virtual projects since the start of the pandemic.

“When you’re in person you get the spirit of the community — it’s palpable. You see people’s facial reactions. You see people snapping their fingers, laughing,” Rogers said.

“Our show is definitely a community-based show. That was my biggest fear — that the show may feel impersonal or may feel disconnected.”

But Rogers said there have been “many benefits to doing virtual events,” including being able to reach many people outside the region, both as audiences and performers.

Mirani and Rogers believe that the world needs art now more than ever as it struggles to overcome the impact of the pandemic.

“I feel like continuing these events at any capacity during the COVID-19 from a virtual standpoint is important because a lot of us need that connection,” said Rogers. “We lost that feeling of belonging. I believe that arts communities are critical for that reason.”