BTS Japan Performance Cancelled After Member Wears Atomic Bomb T-Shirt
K-pop's current popularity in the United States is undebatable. However, before it became mainstream in the States, in the early 2010s Korean music's major impact outside of its home was seen with their neighbors to the east, Japan.
While Korean music's popularity has ebbed and flowed in Japan in recent years, BTS' success in Japan is an undeniable phenomenon. This explains why Japanese fans were shocked to learn Thursday (November 8) that the group's Friday performance on popular Japanese TV program Music Station was pulled.
TV Asahi, who airs the long-running series, released a statement explaining the decision was made after they became aware of a shirt BTS member Jimin wore last year. Deemed offensive by many Japanese, the shirt includes the infamous photo of a mushroom cloud over Japanese city Nagasaki, after the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb during World War II. According to allkpop.com, the shirt in question celebrates Korea's liberation from Japan after World War II.
While TV Asahi used the word "postponed" in reference to the group's canceled performance, there is no word on if or when the performance will be rescheduled.
BTS have released albums and songs in Japanese since 2014, the same year they released their debut Korean album Dark & Wild, but their popularity really took off in Japan in 2016 and is currently at an all-time high.
In the early 2000s, South Korean acts like girl group S.E.S. and singer BoA were among some of the first Korean pop artists to debut in Japan singing in Japanese. These artists, and others, paved the way for huge K-pop acts like Girls' Generation, BIGBANG and KARA in the Japanese music scene in the early 2010s — often with both their original Korean songs and Japanese versions.
Many experts and fans have theorized about the hot-and-cold relationship Japan has with Korean pop culture in recent years. Many have wondered if it's because Japan's powers-that-be might not be exactly thrilled to see Korean stars coming into Japan and outshining their own idols.
Whatever it may be, it's safe to say there's no stopping BTS and their global impact at this point. Their fans aren't called ARMY for nothing.