This summer, death threats made against Korean pop group BTS had an impact on the K-pop industry and its fans.
Social media threats have long been an issue in Korea but they are often not taken seriously because gun control is prevalent there. As K-Pop stars have begun to expand their performances outside of Korea, however, the threats have taken on an urgency because a threat in America can more easily be carried out with catastrophic consequences.
In July, BTS had to cut short a concert in New York and cancel a fan interaction event after at least two separate Twitter accounts posted death threats aimed at group member Rap Monster. Fans on Twitter were able to screenshot the tweets, one of which is a picture of a woman holding a gun with a caption saying “[Rap Monster’s] oppa better watch out, I’m coming for him lol.” A similar threat was made days before BTS’ concert in Mexico.
The threats are impacting fans, like local high schooler Emily Lim, who have canceled plans to see BTS because they fear incidents.
Lim told JSR, “Even though I really wanted to see BTS, I didn’t want to take chances of what could have happened during the concert. I was terrified that I personally might have been harmed.”
The death threats are part of a larger narrative about social media, which can enable people to write harmful or threatening comments without consequences. Amanda Koe, another student, told JSR that this a reason she left social media.
“At first I wanted to connect with people who have the same interests as I do, but people would make nasty and scary comments. After experiencing such trash talk multiple times, I decided it wasn’t worth the trouble,” she said.