Speaking out. In support of the Stop Asian Hate movement, BTS recalled their own experiences with racism and anti-Asian “hatred” as members of a South Korean boy group.
In a statement in both Korean and English on Monday, March 29, the K-pop band—which consists of Jin, Suga, J-Hope, RM, Jimin, V and Jungkook—condemned the recent rise in anti-Asian hate crimes as a result of the current health crisis. “We send our deepest condolences to those who have lost their loved ones,” the statement read. “We feel grief and anger. We recall moments when we faced discrimination as Asians. We have endured expletives without reason and were mocked for the way we look. We were even asked why Asians spoke in English.”
The statement continued, “We cannot put into words the pain of becoming the subject of hatred and violence for such a reason. Our own experiences are inconsequential compared to the events that have occurred over the past few weeks. But these experiences were enough to make us feel powerless and chip away our self-esteem.”
The band explained that they wanted to take “considerable time” to think about “how we should voice our message” in response to the recent increase in anti-Asian hate crimes. The statement continued, “But what our voice must convey is clear. We stand against racial discrimination. We condemn violence. You, I and we all have the right to be respected. We will stand together.”
The statement comes after German radio host Matthias Matuschik compared BTS to a virus after the band covered Coldplay’s “Fix You” for their “MTV Unplugged” episode in February 2021. “Dear teenagers who are listening: Please take no offense,” Matuschik said at the time. “But personally, I think that BTS is…Let me put it like this: BTS is like SARS…It’s an abbreviation for some fucking virus that we’ll hopefully have a vaccine for soon as well.”
He continued, “I have nothing against South Korea. You can’t accuse me of xenophobia only because this boy band is from South Korea…I have a car from South Korea. I have the coolest car around.”
After the backlash, Bayern 3, the radio station that aired Matuschik’s show, apologized for his remarks. “That does not change the fact that many of you found his statements to be hurtful or racist,” Bayern 3 said in a statement. “We apologize for this in every way possible. We will work on the matter with Matthias and the team in detail again in the next few days.”
In March 2021, the card company Topps came under fire for releasing an illustration, titled “BTS Bruisers,” that showed band being beaten by a Grammy after the band lost their first nomination. In a statement at the time, the company apologized for the card and confirmed that it would be removed from production. “We hear and understand our consumers who are upset about the portrayal of BTS in our GPK Shammy Awards product and we apologize for including it,” the statement read. “We have removed the BTS sticker card from the set, we have not printed any of the sticker card and it will not be available.”