- BTS leader RM posted an Instagram story that Chinese netizens viewed as supporting a disqualified Korean athlete.
- This infuriated some Chinese social media users, and they left malicious comments on BTS’ Instagram account.
- BTS fans are hitting back by flooding the post’s comments with purple heart emojis to quell the hate.
K-pop superstar boy group BTS is facing backlash on social media in China after group leader RM posted an Instagram story in apparent support of a South Korean Olympian.
In the post, RM, real name Kim Nam Joon, shared a video clip of Monday’s controversial men’s short track 1,000-meter semifinals at the Winter Olympics, where Korean Hwang Dae Heon finished first.
The race sparked debate as Hwang – the sport’s world number two – was later disqualified for making physical contact with China’s Li Wenlong.
Although RM didn’t write any text to accompany the video, he did post two cheering emojis and a thumbs-up emoji, which users interpreted as support for Hwang. And that irritated the Chinese fans.
Immediately, Chinese social media users flooded BTS’ Instagram account with malicious comments as well as puking and major emojis.
Some told the group to avoid returning to the Chinese market, while others personally attacked the group leader’s appearance.
On China’s Twitter-like platform Weibo, some enraged users also left comments calling for the group’s music to be banned. The Weibo hashtags “Kim Nam Joon ins” (referring to Instagram) and “Kim Nam Joon with Winter Olympics pictures” have each received more than six million views so far.
But many Chinese users also said they were “confused” as to why it sparked outrage in the first place. BTS has a large following in China with more than 5 million fans on Weibo – despite China’s repeated crackdown on K-pop fan groups on the site.
Weibo user @adheretomy wrote, “He’s just sharing, he hasn’t even said anything. I know everyone’s patriotism is at its height, but don’t let that enthusiasm get overdone.”
Either way, BTS fans have come to the group’s defense, flooding the group’s Instagram account with purple heart emojis in the comments to quell the negativity. Fans flooded the band’s page with purple hearts, a color synonymous with the band as well as the fandom.
BTS did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
This isn’t the first time BTS has been criticized in China. In 2020, the band faced backlash following RM’s comments about the Korean War, according to the BBC.
Another South Korean athlete, Lee June-seo, was disqualified in the same speed skating race for making a late pass. The Korean Sports and Olympic Committee has announced its intention to open an investigation into the disqualifications of the two men.