‘How many K-Pop fans do you know personally?’: British DJ sparks outrage after calling K-Pop fans ‘suspicious’

A British producer and DJ has come under fire after claiming that K-Pop remains a niche in the West and that its fans are “suspicious” for using anime profile pictures.

What he’s saying: Matan Zohar, better known as Mat Zo, argued K-Pop’s supposed popularity in a now-deleted Twitter thread. He used BTS as an example and claimed that the group is “only as big as they are” due to “relentless corporate support.”

  • “I’m convinced that K-Pop is still niche in the West,” Zo wrote. “Seriously, how many K-Pop fans do you know personally? Is it possible corporations are pushing BTS so hard cause it’s not working? There’s a lot of big corp incentive for the K-Pop model of cultural manufacturing to work over here.”
  • The 31-year-old then took a jab at K-Pop fans, calling them “suspicious” for their use of anime profile pictures and posting of “crappy, low-res images” of packed-out concerts. “Not saying they aren’t real but it adds to the fake vibe of it all,” he noted.
  • Zo ended the thread with a reference to McDonald’s BTS Meal. He said it exists not because BTS is the hottest act in music, but because there’s a “clear motive” behind it.
  • The DJ also made indirect accusations about “borderline” child grooming and slavery in another tweet that appeared to respond to an ARMY. “Does no one see the irony in a fanclub supporting a billion-dollar industry that borders on child grooming and slavery calling itself the ARMY?”

Fans respond: Zo’s remarks immediately caught heat on Twitter, with members of the BTS ARMY and the larger K-Pop fanbase responding to educate him. One user called him “deluded.”

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  • “Boy you deluded, I’m in med school and even some of my teachers are BTS ARMY, not to mention every other person in college,” the user wrote. “And about the BTS Meal? I couldn’t order it the first night and the very next day IT GOT SOLD OUT! Bots?????”
  • Another pointed out BTS’ humble beginnings, “It’s funny you talk about corporations, because if you research BTS’ origins you’ll see that they came from a tiny label that grew because of them and not the contrary, and that their western success was due to a huge grassroots push from fans.”
  • More fans have since come forward in defense of BTS. Some describe themselves and why they love the K-Pop powerhouse, while others share high-resolution clips from their concerts.
  • Meanwhile, one user pointed out that Zo did not only insult BTS, but the larger Asian community. Apparently, others managed to find old, controversial tweets of the DJ writing about “nerdy-looking Korean girls,” “Chinese babies” and “yellow fever.”

Apology released: Zo apologized for his “insensitive words and derogatory comments” in a statement on Saturday, that is now only able to be seen by approved accounts. He addressed the Asian community and vowed to “strive to be better.”

Read Zo’s full statement below:

“I’d like to extend a sincere apology for my insensitive words and derogatory comments directed at the Asian community. While I never intended to hurt or offend anyone, after listening to the concerns of people close to me and those of the many fans, I now fully understand just how deeply these words have cut.

“I will strive to be better, and promise to educate myself so not to fall into such small-minded prejudices. I will be stepping away from social media for a while to reflect on my actions.”

Featured Image via Anjunabeats (left) and @Mat_Zo (right)

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