The agency behind South Korean boyband BTS, Big Hit Entertainment, has offered "sincere apologies" after pictures showed a band member wearing a hat with the Nazi SS Death Head logo, while another wore a t-shirt mocking the victims of the Nagasaki atomic bomb.
The boyband was called out by international Jewish human rights organisation Simon Wiesenthal Center, which also alleged that the flags used on stage during BTS' concert was also "eerily similar" to the Nazi Swastika. The centre has since welcomed Big Hit's apology.
"It is clear that those designing and promoting this group’s career are too comfortable with denigrating the memory of the past. The result is that on young generations in Korea and around the world are more likely to identify bigotry and intolerance as being ‘cool’ and help erase the lessons of history. The management of this group, not only the front performers, should publicly apologise," the centre said in a previous statement online.
In a Facebook post which has garnered over 24k reactions, 1,270 shares and 260 comments at the time of writing, Big Hit said it does not condone any activities of war or the use of atomic weapons and is "adamantly against" them. It added that it has no intention of causing distress or pain to anyone affected by the atomic weapons and will continue to adhere to these principles.
Most netizens praised Big Hit for taking the "mature" step of apologising for the incident and also showed their support for both the agency and the boyband.
"In all activities involving BTS and any other artists associated with our company, Big Hit does not support any organisations or groups oriented towards political extremism and totalitarian beliefs including Nazism, is against all such entities and activities, had no intention of causing distress or pain to anyone affected by historical events and incidents by being inadvertently associated with such organisations or groups, and we will continue to adhere to these principles," it added in the Facebook post.
It offered "sincere apologies" for not only failing to take the precaution against its artists wearing clothing that inadvertently inflicted pain on anyone affected by the use of atomic weapons or totalitarian regimes in the past. It also apologised for failing to strictly review the clothing and accessories worn by BTS members.
Regarding the issue of the flags bearing resemblance to the Nazi Swastika, Big Hit said the flags and images were creative elements "completely unrelated" to national socialism and the performance's core message itself was "criticism against restrictively uniform and authoritarian educational systems", the entertainment agency said.
Nevertheless, the agency said it bears all responsibilities for not offering the "necessary and careful support" to its artists that may have prevented these issues, adding that the BTS members are in no way responsible for the issues outlined. Big Hit said it will carefully review and examine these issues but all activities involving the agency and its 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.
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