SINGAPORE – A German radio station has apologised after one of its hosts likened South Korean boyband BTS to the coronavirus during a live show on Wednesday (Feb 24).

Bayern3 said in a statement on Thursday that Mr Matthias Matuschik’s choice of words had gone too far, though it was in no way meant to be hurtful or racist.

“We apologise for this in every way possible,” the station said, adding that it will work with Mr Matuschik and the team “in detail again in the next few days”.

The station’s apology came after Mr Matuschik called a BTS cover of Coldplay’s Fix You blasphemous and described the boyband as “some crappy virus that hopefully there will be a vaccine for soon as well”.

He added: “I have nothing against South Korea. You can’t accuse me of xenophobia only because this boyband is from South Korea… I have a car from South Korea. I have the coolest car around.”

He then said BTS “will be vacationing in North Korea for the next 20 years” as penance for its cover of the British rock band’s hit.

Coldplay themselves, in a tweet on Wednesday, called the BTS cover “beautiful”, without mentioning Mr Matuschik’s remarks.

The Associated Press (AP) reported that offence at the comments didn’t come from South Korea alone, with many social media users in Germany and elsewhere immediately condemning them.

Many South Koreans living abroad also expressed concerns that the remarks could incite anti-Asian violence, already on the rise in many places, the report added.

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BTS, which debuted in 2013, became the biggest boy band in the world, selling out stadiums worldwide and delivering a video message at the United Nations General Assembly this year, AP said.

Unlike other K-pop bands that carefully maintain the personas created by their labels, BTS is known for its active engagement with fans – known as ARMY – through social media, it added. BTS has more than 33.1 million followers on Twitter.

The station said Mr Matuschik was “presenting his opinion in an ironic, exaggerated way… But he – and he has assured us of this – in no way intended this. He just wanted to express his displeasure over the aforementioned cover version.”

Also on Thursday, former US National Basketball Association (NBA) star Jeremy Lin posted on Facebook that he has experienced racism while playing.

“Being a 9 year NBA veteran doesn’t protect me from being called ‘coronavirus’ on the court,” the former New York Knicks star said, without elaborating on the incident.

“Something is changing in this generation of Asian Americans,” Mr Lin said. “We are tired of being told that we don’t experience racism, we are tired of being told to keep our heads down and not make trouble.”

ALSO READ: BTS to make MTV Unplugged debut in Feb

This article was first published in The Straits Times.





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