South Korean K-pop group BTS are facing a backlash in China over comments a member made about the Korean War.
In a speech, the band’s leader, known as RM, mentioned South Korea’s shared “history of pain” with the US over the 1950-53 conflict, in which the two countries fought together.
But his remarks have angered Chinese social media users, as Beijing backed the North in the war.
The controversy also appears to have affected commercial deals.
Adverts featuring BTS from companies including Samsung, sports brand Fila and car manufacturer Hyundai disappeared from a number of Chinese websites or social media platforms, although it is unclear who removed them.
K-pop has a large following in China and BTS – one of the most successful groups – are no different, with at least five million fans on China’s popular social media platform Weibo.
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RM’s comments came as BTS received an award celebrating relations between the US and South Korea.
“We will always remember the history of pain that our two nations shared together and the sacrifices of countless men and women,” he said.
But his words were met with an angry response in China, with Weibo users noting the losses their country suffered.
According to China’s state-run Global Times newspaper, “Chinese netizens said the band’s totally one-sided attitude to the Korean War hurts their feelings and negates history”, adding that the comments were designed to “play up” to US audiences.
“They [BTS] should not make any money from China,” one angry user commented on Weibo, according to Reuters news agency.
However, a number of people on Twitter defended the group, noting that RM’s speech did not mention China directly.
The seven-member BTS are popular around the world and have broken a number of records. Earlier this year, their single Dynamite became the most viewed YouTube video in 24 hours, with 101.1 million views in a day.