The shadow of World War II looms large in Asia (“BTS pulled from Asahi TV show over nuke T-shirt” in the Nov. 10 edition). Battles continue to rage over memory, legacy and commemoration. This contention is perfectly illustrated by the ceaseless uproar that emerges when Japanese leaders visit Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo.

Japan, no doubt, has a lot of self-reflecting and soul-searching when coming to terms with what happened in Korea and China in World War II. But the recent debacle involving the Korean boy band BTS and the wearing of a shirt portraying the dropping of the atomic bomb shows that it’s not just the Japanese who have to demonstrate a bit more tact and understanding when dealing with the ghosts of the war.

The wearing of such a shirt in Japan was tasteless and irresponsible. And this is not the first time the members of BTS have acted recklessly. They had the audacity to conduct a photo shoot at a Holocaust memorial in Europe, a monument that honors the 6 millions souls brutally snuffed out by a monstrous regime. Members of BTS have also been called out for wearing clothing that had markings that mimicked the insignia worn by the SS. This pattern needs to stop.

How would the people of Korea respond if a Japanese singer came to their country and wore a T-shirt with an image of a Korean “comfort woman” on it? Someone needs to remind the members of BTS that they represent their home country when they go abroad and sing for their fans. If they are representative of how Koreans treat history, then that is quite telling and depressing.


The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

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