An agency representing South Korean boy band BTS has apologized after one of the band members wore a t-shirt that appeared to celebrate the atomic bombing of the Japanese city of Nagasaki during World War II, and after photos emerged of another member wearing a hat with a Nazi symbol.
“We would like to … offer our sincerest apologies to anyone who has suffered pain, distress and discomfort due to our shortcomings and oversight in ensuring that these matters receive our most careful attention,” Big Hit Entertainment, said in a Wednesday statement cited by Associated Press.
The Los Angeles-based Jewish rights group Simon Wiesenthal Center had accused BTS of “mocking the past” over the t-shirt controversy, which saw Japanese broadcasters cancel recent appearances by the band.
“Wearing a T-shirt in Japan mocking the victims of the … A-bomb, is just the latest incident of this band mocking the past,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the associate dean of center in a statement online. “The outrageous incidents reveal a basic lack of knowledge of history’s darkest chapters that endangers the future of younger generations.”
Photos purportedly from 2015 also appear to show one of the band members wearing a hat with Death’s Head, symbolizing the SS detachments that oversaw Nazi concentration camps. The rabbi also alleged that the band had flown Nazi-like flags during concerts and said BTS owed “both Jewish victims of the Holocaust and Japanese victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki” an apology.
Big Hit Entertainment said “We’d like to clarify that all Big Hit staff and artists, including BTS, do not regard war or atomic bombs lightly,” and added that they “do not regard Nazis lightly nor any other group that promotes ideals or totalitarianism or extremism.”
BTS has shot to international stardom over the last year, with the group making history when it became the first K-Pop band to top the U.S. album charts in May.