BTS has been facing harsh criticism recently even in Western outlets, starting with the atomic bomb shirt (even if driven by nationalists) and recently having been denounced by the Simon Wiesenthal Center for a variety of offenses. As such, Big Hit Entertainment decided it could no longer remain quiet, as it had done through the emergence of issues in the past, and has released a statement.
“Hello, this is Big Hit Entertainment. Recently, there are many different issues surrounding our artists BTS. Our statement is as follows:
These are the issues that Big Hit has reviewed: first, that our artist has worn a shirt with imagery of the atomic bomb. Second, that our artist has worn a hat with Nazi symbolism in an old photo shoot for a Korean media outlet. Third, that our artists are said to have used flags with Nazi imagery during a performance at a concert in which they participated.
This is our statement in response to each of those issues: in BTS’s promotions as well as the promotions of all our artists, Big Hit does not support war or the atomic bomb. We oppose these things and did not mean to cause harm to the victims of the atomic bomb, and this will not change.
In BTS’s promotions as well as the promotions of all our artists, Big Hit does not support any form of totalitarianism, including Nazism, or any groups with radical political tendencies. We oppose these things and had no intention of causing harm to the historical victims of these groups, and this will not change.
This is our apology for the issues mentioned above. About the item of clothing with atomic bomb imagery, as we stated above, it was not done with any intent, and we have confirmed that the shirt itself was not produced with the intention of causing harm to the victims of the atomic bomb. However, it is obvious that harm may have been caused unintentionally to the victims when the shirt was worn due to our lack of foresight and preparation. We sincerely apologize for potentially causing discomfort through the appearance of our artists being connected with atomic bomb imagery.
About the hat with Nazi symbolism being used in an old photo shoot, as we have stated above, it was not done with any intent. The clothes and accessories used in the photo shoot were given to us by the media outlet. Our artists ended up wearing them due to our inability to sufficiently check beforehand and harm may have been caused unintentionally to the victims of Nazism. We sincerely apologize for causing discomfort through the appearance of our artists being connected with Nazi imagery.
However, we would like to clearly state that the responsibility for these issues lies with Big Hit, who was not able to fully support our artists. Our artists have to deal with many schedules and site conditions and the responsibility for the above issues does not lie with them.
This is our statement on the issue of the concert performance: the concert in question was the 2017 anniversary concert of the legendary Korean artist Seo Taiji. The performance in question was built around the social message of criticizing the reality of standardized education. The imagery on the flags was artwork without any connection to Nazism. The message of the performance was to criticize a standardized, totalitarian education system. The performance became an issue because it was said that it was related to Nazism. This is not true at all, and in fact the performance was meant to criticize that kind of totalitarian reality.
Big Hit will do our best to reform these problems that have been raised. Our motto is to give comfort and emotion to the world through our music and our artists. It is a challenge for us to consider the many elements that arise from living in an era of diversity and tolerance, but we are doing our best to fulfill that duty. In the future, on the basis of our understanding of not only these issues but various social/historical/cultural backgrounds, Big Hit and our artists will more carefully consider the details of our promotions so that we do not cause harm to people. Once again, we apologize to the people who were hurt by our lack in dealing with these issues.
Big Hit will take the following steps in order to resolve these issues: first, we are contacting the atomic bomb victim associations in Japan and Korea to explain and apologize for the problems that have been raised. We have also sent a letter explaining and apologizing for the situation to the Simon Wiesenthal Center.”
In a surprisingly apologetic statement, they admit to the past things that were done in poor taste (except the memorial photoshoot, though it could be part of their apology to the SWC), saying that the intent wasn’t to offend. However, they also dispute the questionable issue, which definitely seems fair. Of course, BHE shielding the group in the apology like they did kinda subverts the image they crafted of BTS having this completely unique creative control as artists, but honestly that was probably the least of their concerns at that point.
Given that the company’s lack of apologies in the past for the scandals of BTS put BHE in an almost impossible public relations nightmare where they didn’t want to look like they’re emboldening political extremists but also couldn’t really deny that some of the things being brought up were indeed shitty, BHE probably did about as well as could be expected under the circumstances, and hopefully this will start the de-escalation of the controversies.