Old Images of BTS Members Wearing ‘Nazi’ Symbol Spark Controversy
K-pop sensation BTS has sparked another controversy after a prominent Jewish group called them out for wearing hats adorned with Nazi symbols during a photoshoot.
The popular South Korean boyband faced criticism last month after 23-year-old BTS member Jimin was seen wearing a t-shirt containing the text “Patriotism our history liberation Korea” printed multiple times along with an image of the atomic bomb that devastated Hiroshima at the end of World War II.
Just weeks after Jimin’s atomic bomb T-shirt photo surfaced, another batch of images emerged online, with one showing BTS members wearing hats bearing the SS Death’s Head logo, a known Nazi symbol.
The images, which were purportedly taken in 2015, also showed some of the members posing at a Holocaust memorial known as the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin, CNN reports.
In the statement, the center’s director of global social action Abraham Cooper explained the significance of the symbol during Nazi Germany’s genocide during World War II.
“The SS was a key component of the Nazi mass murder of 6 million Jews during the WWII Holocaust,” Cooper was quoted as saying. “It goes without saying that this group, which was invited to speak at the UN, owes the people of Japan and the victims of the Nazism an apology. But that is not enough. It is clear that those designing and promoting this group’s career are too comfortable with denigrating the memory of the past,” he said.
The post also noted that some flags which appeared on stage at one of their concerts “were eerily similar to the Nazi Swastika.” Big Hit Entertainment released its own statement in response, noting that it has sent a letter to the Simon Wiesenthal Center “to offer explanations and apologies to anyone who may have been distressed or in any way affected.”
According to the band’s talent agency, they take responsibility for failing to prevent the artists from wearing the offensive symbols.
In their post, Big Hit Entertainment apologized to “anyone who may have experienced distress and discomfort by witnessing the association of our artists with imagery related to atomic bombings” and “anyone affected by totalitarian regimes.”
The statement, however, insisted that their artists “are in no way responsible” for the incident.
On Tuesday, the Wiesenthal Center welcomed the apology from the management company: “The Simon Wiesenthal Center today welcomed an apology from Korean pop group BTS’ management for incidents—a band member wearing a hat emblazoned with the Nazi SS “Totenkopf” emblem, another member wearing a t-shirt with pictures of the WWII atomic bombs, and the band performing in costumes resembling SS uniforms and flying Nazi-like flags—offensive to both Jewish victims of the Holocaust and Japanese victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”