China slams BTS over war comments
PIC: Wikimedia

Chinese nationalists erupted in anger at South Korean boy band BTS after its leader thanked Korean War veterans for their sacrifices.

The singer, who goes by RM, made the remark in a recorded acceptance speech for an award from the Korea Society for promoting US-Korean relations.

"We will always remember the history of pain that our two nations shared together and the sacrifices of countless men and women," RM said in the speech, which included no mention of China.

"After 70 years, the world we are living in is much closer than before. Boundaries in many aspects are getting more blurred," RM said.

"As members of the global community, we should build a deeper understanding and solidarity to be happier together." Chinese internet users and state media took RM's comments as a slap at China, whose soldiers fought alongside North Korean forces during their failed attempt to annex South Korea in the 1950-53 war.

They accused RM of ignoring the role played by China in the war, which Chinese Communist Party propaganda blames on the United States, instead of North Korean leader Kim Il Sung's attack on South Korea.

"Before, I thought some BTS songs were pretty good. Now, they seem to be covered in excrement," said a commenter on the microblog service Sina Weibo. "Insulting China is absolutely not allowed." A hashtag "BTS Insults China" had been viewed more than 4.5 million times, according to Sina Weibo.

"Many Chinese netizens pointed out that the speech plays up to US netizens, but the country played the role of aggressor in the war," said an article in the Global Times newspaper, controlled by the Chinese Communist Party.

The attacks reflect Beijing's assertiveness abroad and enduring Chinese sensitivity about the Korean Peninsula.

Asked about the controversy, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, Zhao Lijian, said, "What I want to say is that it should be our common pursuit to take history as a mirror, face the future, cherish peace and promote friendship."

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