Jewish group says K-Pop band BTS should apologize over Nazi-style hats

Korean boy band BTS have been criticized by a Jewish human rights group for posing in headgear featuring a N...

Posted: Nov 14, 2018 10:13 AM
Updated: Nov 14, 2018 10:13 AM

Korean boy band BTS have been criticized by a Jewish human rights group for posing in headgear featuring a Nazi-style symbol.

In a statement posted on its website, the Simon Wiesenthal Center alleged that the popular K-pop group had posed in hats displaying the Death's-Head symbol of the SS -- the organization that oversaw the Nazi concentration camps.

Arts and entertainment

Asia

Bombings

Conflicts and wars

Continents and regions

East Asia

Holocaust

Japan

Music

Music and dance

Music groups and artists

Unrest, conflicts and war

World War II

Apologies

Jewish people

Minority and ethnic groups

Musical styles

Pop music

Society

BTS

Musical groups

Noting that the group were dropped last week from a planned Japanese TV appearance after one of its members wore a T-shirt that appeared to celebrate the atomic bombing of the Japanese city of Nagasaki, the center's associate dean and director of global social action, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, said that the group owed both the "people of Japan and the victims of the Nazism an apology."

The statement also alleged that band members had waved large flags on stage at a concert that were "eerily similar" to Nazi swastikas.

The fashion choices made by the group -- and by extension "young generations in Korea and around the world" -- were helping to "erase the lessons of history" said the statement.

Rabbi Cooper requested that both the performers and the group's management publicly apologize.

In a lengthy and detailed statement Wednesday, BTS' management, Big Hit Entertainment, offered its "sincere apologies" for "inadvertently inflicting pain and distress to anyone affected" by the group's choice of clothing.

"Big Hit bears all responsibilities for not providing the necessary and careful support to our artist that may have prevented these issues, and we would like to make clear that our artists, especially due to their extensive schedules and the complexities of on-site conditions, are in no way responsible."

The record label said it had contacted both the Simon Wiesenthal Center as well as associations in Japan and Korea representing those affected by the atomic bombings, "in order to offer explanations and apologies to anyone who may have been distressed or in any way affected."

Biggest K-pop group in the world

The Simon Wiesenthal Center statement links to a Reddit page which shows one of the band members, RM, wearing a camouflage hat with the infamous symbol apparently sewn onto its peak.

Huffington Post Korea reports that the image of RM wearing the hat is from a photoshoot with the now-defunct Ceci magazine from October 2014. The credit for the photo says the hat is "from a stylist's collection."

Though BTS has for years been one of the biggest bands in South Korea and East Asia, their international profile has skyrocketed in 2018.

This year, the BTS became the first K-pop band to win a Billboard Music Award; the first K-pop act to sell out a US arena; and broke the record for biggest music video debut, a distinction previously held by Taylor Swift.

Some of the group's fans have leaped to their defense online, claiming that at least some images of the hat have been photoshopped to include the controversial symbol. CNN cannot independently verify if the images have been doctored.

Last Friday, the Japanese network canceled an appearance by BTS after images surfaced on social media showing band member Jimin wearing a shirt emblazoned with the phrase "PATRIOTISM OUR HISTORY LIBERATION KOREA" repeated several times, alongside what appeared to be an image of a mushroom cloud over the Japanese city of Nagasaki.

It was not clear when the photo of Jimin allegedly wearing the shirt was taken, but local news outlets reported the image was from 2013.

Japan remains the only nation to have experienced a nuclear attack when the US dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagaski killing an estimated 200,000-plus people at the end of WWII.

Insensitive fashion

Several Asian nations, including Thailand, South Korea and Indonesia have made headlines in recent years for similar controversies linked to fascist iconography.

Institute for Security and Development Policy Non-Resident Research Fellow Elliot Brennan told CNN that, for many Asian countries, Nazi Germany doesn't have the same historical meaning as for Westerners.

Referencing an incident in Taiwan in 2016, he told CNN that as the scourge of Nazism was eclipsed by Japanese imperial brutality in Asia, the symbolism resonated less than in the West.

"The outcry over the Nazi costumes in Taiwan, while obviously offensive to those educated on this terrible period in history, should remind us of the dangers of cultural relativism," he said.

"For East Asian countries, World War II was not about the Nazis or Hitler but rather the Imperial Japanese forces. Comparatively little time is spent in Asian countries studying World War II Germany than in Europe or North America."

Brennan said Nazi outfits and regalia often have a more punk or anti-establishment meaning in Asia, rather than a political or historical one.

"'Nazi chic,' as it has become known, is an expression of subversion and its wearers in Asia are largely ignorant of its historical underpinnings," he said.

In 2016 Sony Music had to apologize after Japanese girl band Keyakizaka46 wore black capes and hats similar to the SS uniform during a stage performance.

Two years before that, South Korean pop group Pritz said they never intended to look like Nazis when they dressed in black shirts with red armbands in a music video.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 112626

Reported Deaths: 3520
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion20832759
Lake10292318
Elkhart6415109
St. Joseph6156102
Allen6029200
Hamilton4724109
Vanderburgh344530
Hendricks2673122
Monroe247436
Tippecanoe226913
Johnson2268123
Clark215056
Porter207845
Cass19329
Delaware188261
Vigo178123
Madison159575
LaPorte137739
Floyd131461
Howard128563
Kosciusko120217
Warrick119936
Bartholomew115357
Marshall98924
Dubois95418
Boone95146
Hancock91143
Grant89133
Noble89132
Henry77024
Wayne74414
Jackson7409
Morgan70038
Shelby66529
Daviess64427
Dearborn63228
LaGrange63111
Clinton59212
Harrison56024
Putnam53710
Lawrence50528
Montgomery50521
Knox5019
Gibson4854
White48114
DeKalb45611
Decatur45439
Miami4263
Fayette41813
Greene41835
Jasper3862
Steuben3707
Scott35610
Sullivan33012
Jennings31212
Posey3060
Franklin29925
Clay2935
Orange28524
Ripley2838
Carroll27013
Wabash2618
Washington2611
Starke2537
Whitley2526
Wells2482
Adams2453
Jefferson2443
Fulton2342
Huntington2223
Tipton21722
Spencer2153
Perry21413
Randolph2087
Jay1730
Newton17111
Owen1651
Martin1640
Rush1524
Pike1401
Vermillion1260
Fountain1182
Pulaski1151
Blackford1133
Crawford1030
Brown1023
Parke941
Benton880
Union770
Ohio767
Switzerland700
Warren391
Unassigned0225

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 145850

Reported Deaths: 4635
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin26242603
Cuyahoga17196644
Hamilton12850309
Montgomery7583152
Lucas7187358
Butler5727102
Summit5172249
Marion307247
Mahoning3002279
Warren294748
Stark2771168
Pickaway263444
Lorain227786
Delaware216620
Fairfield203850
Columbiana192180
Licking187562
Trumbull1852131
Clark175938
Wood173772
Clermont165520
Lake158649
Medina143939
Allen138869
Miami138049
Greene137632
Portage109466
Mercer107717
Tuscarawas91620
Erie91244
Wayne90866
Ross86123
Richland80819
Madison78712
Darke76839
Belmont71227
Geauga70547
Hancock67410
Ashtabula65148
Athens6292
Lawrence61618
Shelby5909
Auglaize5709
Putnam55823
Sandusky55520
Huron5337
Union5002
Scioto4746
Ottawa46630
Seneca45314
Preble42213
Muskingum3802
Holmes3777
Jefferson3284
Logan3013
Henry30012
Champaign2943
Perry2889
Defiance28710
Clinton28213
Brown2812
Knox28015
Morrow2522
Washington25123
Hardin25013
Fulton2371
Jackson2344
Coshocton23111
Crawford2276
Fayette2266
Ashland2244
Highland2203
Wyandot20212
Williams2013
Gallia18612
Meigs17210
Pike1670
Hocking1619
Guernsey1578
Carroll1517
Adams1234
Van Wert1143
Monroe10918
Paulding1050
Harrison622
Morgan470
Vinton453
Noble270
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Overcast
57° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 57°
Angola
54° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 54°
Huntington
Clear
53° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 53°
Decatur
Clear
59° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 59°
Van Wert
Clear
59° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 59°
Mostly Sunny Thursday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events