A Ja­panese tele­vi­sion sta­tion has can­celed an ap­pear­ance by the mas­sively pop­u­lar K-pop group BTS cit­ing con­tro­versy over a T-shirt with an image of an atomic bomb that a mem­ber wore last year cel­e­brat­ing Korea’s lib­er­a­tion from Ja­pan af­ter World War II.

The Korea Times - - FRONT PAGE - TOKYO (AFP) —

A Ja­panese tele­vi­sion sta­tion has can­celled a per­for­mance by the wildly pop­u­lar Korean boy­band BTS, af­ter con­tro­versy erupted over a shirt worn by a mem­ber ap­pear­ing to show the mush­room cloud cre­ated by an atomic bomb.

The in­ter­na­tional su­per­stars were due to per­form on TV Asahi on Fri­day, but the sta­tion abruptly can­celled the show af­ter a photo of mem­ber Jimin wear­ing the shirt went vi­ral.

“BTS’s ap­pear­ance sched­uled for the 9th has been can­celled,” TV Asahi said in a state­ment.

“The T-shirt that one of the mem­bers wore made head­lines and be­came con­tro­ver­sial,” the sta­tion added, say­ing it had dis­cussed the “in­ten­tion” be­hind the shirt with the band’s record la­bel and ul­ti­mately de­cided to “can­cel their ap­pear­ance.”

BTS is­sued their own state­ment on the row, but gave no de­tails on why the show had been post­poned.

“We apol­o­gize for dis­ap­point­ing fans who were look­ing for­ward to this. BTS will con­tinue their ef­forts to con­nect with fans on stage and also through mu­sic,” the group said on their web­site.

The of­fend­ing shirt fea­tured the phrase “PA­TRI­O­TISM OURHISTORY LIB­ER­A­TION KOREA” re­peated mul­ti­ple times along­side an image of an atomic bomb ex­plo­sion and an­other of Kore­ans cel­e­brat­ing lib­er­a­tion.

BTS mem­ber Jimin re­port­edly wore the shirt last year, on Aug. 15, when Kore­ans cel­e­brate the end of Ja­panese oc­cu­pa­tion in 1945.

Ties be­tween Ja­pan and South Korea con­tinue to be soured by bit­ter dis­putes over his­tory and ter­ri­tory stem­ming from Ja­pan’s bru­tal 1910-45 colo­nial rule over the penin­sula. Last month, Tokyo re­acted fu­ri­ously af­ter South Korea’s top court or­dered a Ja­panese steel gi­ant to com­pen­sate vic­tims of wartime forced la­bor pro­grams.

BTS are the lead­ing lights of the K-pop phe­nom­e­non and made his­tory ear­lier this year by be­com­ing the first K-pop band to top the U.S. al­bum charts, a sign of the genre’s grow­ing global ap­peal.

Known for their boy­ish good looks, floppy hair­cuts and metic­u­lously chore­ographed dance moves, the septet has be­come one of South Korea’s best-known and most lu­cra­tive mu­si­cal ex­ports.

Korea Times file

BTS mem­ber Jimin wears the con­tro­ver­sial “lib­er­a­tion” T-shirt.

Korea Times file

T-shirt fea­tur­ing a photo of an atomic bomb be­ing dropped on Ja­pan and words cel­e­brat­ing Korea’s lib­er­a­tion

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