The controversy is growing in China over the acceptance speech of BTS during the Van Fleet Award Ceremony. As more Chinese netizens state that BTS has “Ignored the Chinese dignity,” Korean companies such as Samsung, FILA, and Hyundai are removing BTS products and advertisements from China. FILA has even removed all BTS-related posts online as well.
The Global Times, an English-language edition of China’s state-run media outlet, reported on October 12th that sales of the Galaxy S20 Plus BTS Edition and the wireless earphones Galaxy Buds BTS edition have been suspended on Taobao or Jingdong, China’s largest internet shopping malls.
The Global Times reported that Chinese netizens were angry over the Van Fleet Award’s acceptance speech and what they said about the 70th anniversary of the Korean War. Earlier on October 7th, BTS leader RM gave the speech at the Van Fleet Award Ceremony held online. The award is given to individuals or organizations that have contributed to the Korea-U.S. relations. During the event, RM stated, “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”.
Some Chinese netizens raised an issue with RM’s use of the phrase “Two Nations” which stands for the two countries of South Korea and the U.S. The Chinese netizens stated that BTS has “ignored Chinese soldiers’ noble sacrifices during the Korea War”. These Chinese netizens are claiming that BTS has ignored the sacrifices of the Chinese troops who participated in the Korean War with the spirit of supporting North Korea against the U.S. and South Korea. In the 1950s, 130,000 Chinese soldiers, including Mao Anying, the eldest son of Mao Zedong, were killed in action when the U.N. troops crossed the 38th parallel into North Korea.
It was revealed that a Chinese person cut and translated the video of RM’s speech to fit their own narrative. This video spread on social media in China, and the speech became controversial on Weibo, the largest social media outlet in China. Many Chinese netizens showed their patriotism and argued for the boycott of Samsung products. The Chinese netizens claimed, “We can never tolerate matters relating to national dignity.”
Many of these Chinese netizens shared and posted screenshots of the Galaxy S20 BTS edition phones and stated, “Get rid of these Samsung phones immediately.” This controversy heightened as the Global Times reported the netizen’s responses. Ultimately, Samsung decided to cease selling BTS limited edition products on Chinese Internet shopping malls.
However, the Global Times reported that the products were removed from the market because there was no inventory.
Meanwhile, other Korean companies such as FILA and Hyundai also joined in removing BTS-related content. FILA posed several photos and advertisements of BTS on Weibo since last year. However, the company has been removing all BTS-related posts from the media outlet. Hyundai Motors also deleted all BTS images and videos, who are the ambassadors for the global hydrogen campaign from Hyundai’s official Weibo account.
Currently, Samsung, FILA, and Hyundai Motors have not officially made a statement on this matter.
As the controversy grew out of control, the Chinese government took a stance to alleviate the situation. Zhao Lijian, the minister of Foreign Affairs, stated during a briefing, “We are paying attention to the related reports and responses of the Chinese Internet users. However, it is worth working together and we just pursue peace and promote friendship as we reflect on history on our path towards the future.”
After hearing about the controversy in China, many Korean netizens are expressing their anger at the country, stating, “Why would BTS talk about the sacrifice of the country who fought on the enemy side during the Korean War?”
Many Korean netizens are baffled because the Chinese soldiers fought on the side of North Korea during the Korean war. Koreans netizens commented, “I don’t understand these Chinese netizens getting angry over a statement that is correct.”, “BTS is South Korean; therefore they commemorate the South Korean soldiers and U.S. soldiers. The Chinese people helped NORTH Korea.”, “At moments like this, I’m so proud that BTS only has Korean members.”