Western media needs to start examining the way they approach BTS because, more often than not, they are being disrespectful or racist toward the South Korean artists.
No one wants to admit it, but xenophobia and casual racism comes into play in Western countries on a daily basis.
Sometimes people aren’t even aware that their comments and actions are xenophobic because they’re so common and accepted by society as normal. Or they think it’s okay because their intentions are good even if their actions and words aren’t.
But it’s not okay, and it’s easier to spot than you might think. Simply ask yourself, would you be doing or saying these things to them if they were white?
To make it even easier for you, here are some common things BTS puts up with from the media that’s just downright wrong:
DO NOT ask BTS when they will make an English album/more English songs:
BTS are South Korean and they will also speak Korean in their music and other content.
They might put out English songs from time to time when they want to, but to continually ask them about it suggests that English is the superior language and is more important/better than Korean. Which simply isn’t true. In fact, many fans prefer their songs to have Korean in them because the language is so beautiful.
If you want to read English lyrics, just looks up the translations. It will take you a matter of seconds.
DO NOT ask them about military service:
This question keeps coming up lately. I know the media is simply trying to get some sort of scoop, but it’s not going to happen. Since many Western media doesn’t understand the complexities of South Korean military service, they’re likely going to get something wrong.
It also comes across like the media is simply waiting for BTS to make their exit or to break up. Why are you so threatened by their popularity that you’re looking forward to their military service?
DO NOT ask about the next BTS:
Similarly, it’s odd to ask about who will be the next BTS. Even if you’re not asking them directly, the group is aware this discussion has been going around, and it’s disrespectful.
Again, it’s insinuating that they’re replaceable and nothing special. When in fact, BTS is the only group out of South Korea that’s doing as well as they are.
They might have made a spotlight for K-pop, but there isn’t anyone selling out stadiums like they are. Most Western artists aren’t even on their level.
Look at their numbers and respect what they’re doing or get out.
DO NOT ask BTS who they want to collaborate with:
This is a question they get asked in almost every interview. The reason it’s so odd at this point is that most Western artists who collaborate with BTS have more to gain from it than the other way around.
By asking BTS this so much, it’s implying that they’re the ones that should be lucky to work with Western artists.
Let’s face it, the music industry has been sluggish for a long time, but anything BTS touches turns to gold.
Even if you’re just trying to get some info out of them, you’re probably not going to get anything. BTS and Big Hit like to keep things secret until they’re ready to announce it.
DO NOT bring up scandals in South Korea:
I’ve already written about this subject before, but it’s worth repeating. It’s racist to bring up scandals in South Korea when you’re talking about BTS if they have no connection to it.
You wouldn’t bring up every scandal in the American entertainment industry when interviewing or writing about a Western artist, so don’t do it to BTS.
All it looks like you’re doing is trying to tarnish their name by lumping them in with these scandals. Write about the scandals separately if you want, but BTS has nothing to do with them, so you don’t need to bring them up just for clicks.
DO NOT call their music manufactured:
You’re not edgy or original by comparing K-pop to music that’s manufactured just to sell and make money. Honestly, you’re just being racist again.
Most of the American entertainment industry is designed to make money, so why point fingers and try to say that someone else doing it is bad?
Yes, musicians want to earn a living just like everyone else. BTS has worked hard for their money, and their music is exceptional. So is the music of many other artists from South Korea as well.
Any music industry will have bad and good music. Just say you’re prejudiced and go.
DO NOT erase all the work BTS does on their own music:
It’s been weird to see how Western media is eager to blow up white songwriters BTS works with. In some instances, these songwriters are getting more detailed and better questions than BTS.
This is wrong on so many levels, but most importantly because it erases all the work BTS has done.
What it looks like is that media is trying to “prove” BTS is popular because white people are writing their music. When in fact, BTS has written their own music for years.
Even if they use Western songwriters on some songs, they still have to write the Korean lyrics and will adjust the song to fit their sound.
And no, they’re not simply translating lyrics given to them. They might use a chorus written in English by someone else, but as RM has explained, BTS is still writing about 90% of the lyrics themselves.
DO NOT try to belittle their masculinity:
This is for those that are really feeling threatened by the seven men from South Korea that everyone is in love with. It’s not new or funny for people to comment on Asian men’s appearances.
Toxic masculinity has created a very small box of what is acceptable for men to look like, and often, if you’re not white, you’re already out of that small box.
Unfortunately, it’s not an actual reality to what masculinity is. Just because you don’t understand it, doesn’t mean you need to act like BTS or any other Asian man for that matter isn’t masculine enough.
Even if they wear makeup, jewelry, have cute bags, and are prettier than you are, it doesn’t make them any less masculine.
DO NOT insinuate they’ve had plastic surgery done:
For some reason, Western media likes to bring up the topic of plastic surgery. Yes, it’s probably true that many K-Pop artists have had work done, just like Western artists.
To be honest, this isn’t even something Big Hit would have had money for when BTS was just starting out. If you want proof their looks are natural, simply look at their parents and siblings. The members of BTS really are that attractive.
But again, it’s just racist to make it look like anyone in South Korea is bad for getting plastic surgery when white people do it all the time.
DO NOT mix them up with other groups:
This is just embarrassing, to be honest. Western media should know by now that other groups from South Korea are touring as well. Just because you see a group of Asian men doesn’t mean it’s BTS.
It’s rude to BTS and to any other group to mix them up. You wouldn’t mix up white artists, so don’t do it to BTS and others.
Likewise, when you’re interviewing BTS or any group from South Korea, you don’t need to bring up other groups. Take the time to learn about that group and ask them relevant questions.
If you’re going to write about BTS or interview them, please do your research and report accurately. It might not mean much to you, but it’s not easy for them to get fair reporting that’s also been well-done.
They’re often treated as a novelty instead of artists to be taken seriously. All that anyone really needs to do is treat them as they would any white artists that sells out albums and stadium tours like they do.
Treat them how they deserve to be treated; if not because they’ve earned it, than because at their core, they’re the kind of people who are always polite to others even when they don’t get that same treatment back.
Remember, not everyone gets the chance to interview artists at their level. Go into any opportunity to speak with them mindful of the rare treat that it is.