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K-Pop's BTS Embroiled in T-Shirt Controversy


Perhaps the world’s most famous boy band, K-Pop group BTS has recently broken into the mainstream beyond the Korean peninsula; they were even guest speakers at the United Nations in September. But the band’s rising star faltered slightly this past week when a Japanese television channel axed a live performance from the group. The reason behind the cancellation? A T-shirt once worn by one of the band’s members, which was emblazoned with the image of a mushroom cloud billowing over the Japanese city of Nagasaki. Many in Japan and beyond reacted negatively to the shirt, which also probed at the tensions that still exist between Japan and Korea in the aftermath of World War II. In its statement to the public, the Japanese television network in question cited the T-shirt’s glorification of the atrocities of the atomic bomb as the reason behind their decision. In the aftermath of the controversy, the T-shirt’s designer also apologized, saying he did not mean for the design to be read as anti-Japanese.


For Further Reading

In the wake of the midterm elections, read this take on what happens when your clothing becomes political.


Discussion Question

Do you agree with the network’s decision to cancel BTS’ performance? What do you think this issue says about the political implications of clothing?


Action Item

When you get dressed tomorrow, think about the possible meanings and implications tied to what you are wearing. Does that change the way you think about your outfit?  



Read more on the New York Times |  Image: Big Hit Entertainment

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