BTS on Thursday joined K-Pop bands Monsta X, Ateez and South Korean entertainment company Brave Entertainment in extending support to the Black Lives Matter movement as protests continued across the United States against racism and police brutality following the death of George Floyd.
Since last week, fans have been calling on South Korean music artists to voice their support for the protesters as many pointed out how much the K-Pop industry drew from and owed to Black artists, their music and culture.
Several BTS fans in particular have over the week expressed disappointment with the band’s silence on the issue, even as other Korean artists raised money, donating to the cause and used their social media pages to spread awareness about the movement.
On Monday singer and drag queen Soju called out K-pop agencies, saying “It breaks my heart to see that the Kpop industry, I love and cherish, profits so much from the Black community, but still refuses to stand up for them.”
Soju tagged BTS’s Big Hit Entertainment and agencies JYP Entertainment (which represents Day6, TWICE, 2PM), SM Entertainment (EXO, NCT, Red Velvet, SuperM), CJ Entertainment (Lee Hyori, Eric Nam) and YG Entertainment (BlackPink, T.O.P).
A large number of K-pop fans have been active all week in support of Black Lives Matter, filling public digital tip lines of US police departments with fan cams and K-pop performance footage and drowning out pro-Trump and police hashtags such as #MAGA and #BlueLivesMatter with K-pop videos.
Fans have also been urging each other to not trend K-pop hashtags on Twitter—usually an everyday occurrence—to keep focus on the protests and the movement.
Korean artists like NCT 127’s Johnny, Yeri of Red Velvet, Eric Nam and Jay Park publicly supported the campaign, while Day6′s Jae and Got7’s Mark Tuan made contributions to the Minnesota Freedom Fund and the George Floyd Memorial Fund.
Artists like Tiger JK and Crush used their social media to spread awareness among Koreans while DeVita called out entertainment companies in the industry. (h/t @versacetaehyung)
Rapper CL, formerly of 2NE1, talked about how directors, writers, artists, dancers, designers, stylists and producers in K-Pop were all “inspired by black culture whether they acknowledged it or not”.
Earlier this week, Big Hit Entertainment and BTS member Suga had apologised after being called out for sampling a speech by cult leader Jim Jones in his song ‘What Do You Think?’ for his solo album D-2. A majority of Jones’s victims had been African-American. Claire H Evans wrote for Teen Vogue on the racist discourse and silencing that took place among BTS fans during the controversy.
Amidst this, the BTS fandom was also divided on whether the band should speak up on the US protests. A section of fans defended the group’s silence while others called it hypocritical and antithetical to the band’s messaging of equality. The group has previously worked with United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) for an anti-violence campaign.
On Thursday, BTS broke its silence with this post: