Photo surfaces following overseas concert by BTS as band continues to gain international popularity.

Seven-member boy band BTS has become one of the hottest acts in K-pop, achieving incredible popularity in their native Korea and overseas as well. On October 14, BTS, alternatively called the Bangtan Boys, held a concert in Paris, where they performed not just in front of French fans, but also South Korean president Moon Jae-in, who was in attendance and posed for photos with the band.

BTS are their usual photogenic selves in the snapshots taken with the politician. However, a different photo of BTS member Jimin is getting attention from Japanese Internet users for a different reason.

In it, the now 23-year old Jimin (whose birth name is Park Ji-min) is sporting a long-sleeved T-shirt with the words “Patriotism our history liberation Korea” printed a few dozen times across the back. The photo is claimed to have been taken last year on August 15, National Liberation Day of Korea, which coincides with Japan’s surrender which ended World War II and formally brought to an end Korea’s status as an imperial Japanese colony, making the shirt’s written message a timely one.

What some in Japan are calling les appropriate, though, is the photo at the top right of Jimin’s shirt, which wasn’t taken on August 15, but rather August 6, specifically August 6, 1945, and shows the mushroom cloud of the atomic bomb that was dropped by the U.S. military on Hiroshima and resulted in at least 70,000 civilian deaths, with some estimates of the loss of non-combatant life at more than 120,000.

Celebrities in Asia wearing T-shirts emblazoned with English text they ostensibly don’t understand isn’t without precedent, but the timing of Jimin’s wardrobe choice, as well as the unmistakable image of a nuclear bomb detonating, has drawn criticism from online commenters in Japan, and even some in Korea. According to news portal Record China, while some Korean online commenters have been supportive of Jimin and his shirt, others have expressed disappointment at what they see as insensitive politicizing by one of their country’s entertainers as his band stands on an increasingly global stage.

Sources: Toychan, Livedoor News/Record China, Twitter/@murrhauser, Billboard
Featured image: Twitter/@murrhauser