Oct. 12 (UPI) -- Images of South Korean boy band BTS may have been removed from the Chinese Internet following condemnations from Chinese state media of comments from band member RM regarding the U.S.-South Korea alliance and the Korean War.
On Sunday, Chinese state tabloid Global Times tweeted BTS "hurt the feelings" of the Chinese public in their speech after being presented with the James A. Van Fleet Award from The Korea Society in New York.
RM had said in an online message that BTS "will always remember the history of pain that [the United States and Korea] shared together, and the sacrifices of countless men and women."
On Monday, the state-owned newspaper claimed BTS's remarks were having an impact on South Korean businesses in the Chinese market. According to the Global Times, a limited edition BTS smartphone from Samsung Electronics, the Galaxy S20 Plus 5G BTS Edition, was no longer available at online Chinese shopping malls.
A representative for Samsung Electronics denied the report, saying the limited edition phone was no longer available because the line was sold out, according to South Korean news service Newsis on Monday.
Samsung Electronics, South Korea's Hyundai Motors and Italian sportswear label FILA may have deleted pictures of BTS used in their online advertising campaigns, however, according to the report.
Anonymous commenters on Chinese social media platforms have been quoted as saying BTS "ignored the dignity of China," while others claimed BTS had said in past interviews they recognize Taiwan as an independent country, Newsis reported.
China's foreign ministry said Monday Seoul and Beijing must "work together for the future" while "using history as a mirror," South Korean news agency Yonhap reported. Chinese spokesman Zhao Lijian did not mention BTS by name, and BTS appeared to have been removed from Chinese search engine rankings by late Monday, according to Newsis.
Negative views of China have soared to historic highs in South Korea due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new Pew survey released last week. More than 7 in 10 respondents in Japan, South Korea and Australia said China has done a "bad job" of dealing with COVID-19, Pew says.