German radio host apologizes after sparking outrage with BTS Covid comparison
Berlin, Germany - Bayern 3, a radio station in Germany, has issued a statement after host Matthias Matuschik compared BTS to the coronavirus during a furious on-air rant.
After playing BTS' much-praised cover of Coldplay's Fix You last week, Matuschik went on a tirade against the K-Pop band, claiming their cover was "blasphemy."
"Dear teenagers who are listening: Please take no offense," Matuschik said on-air per a YouTube translation. "BTS is like SARS."
"It's an abbreviation for some f****** virus that we'll hopefully have a vaccine for soon as well," he added.
Matuschik insisted he had "nothing against South Korea," and couldn't be accused of xenophobia because he owns a car from South Korea.
"These little suckers brag with their cover of 'Fix You' by Coldplay," he went on. "That's blasphemy! For doing that, you should have to spend a 20-year-long vacation in North Korea," he said.
The roughly two-minute-long rant sparked outrage among BTS fans, known as ARMY, who accused the German host of using racist and hateful rhetoric against the boy band. Within just hours, the hashtag #Bayern3Racist was trending worldwide.
It wasn't just BTS ARMY members who were livid. Matuschik's comments were also slammed by several music giants on social media, including the likes of Steve Aoki and Zara Larsson.
Fans and fellow musicians come to support BTS
German radio Bayern3 issues apology
After the small radio broadcaster Bayern3 found itself at the center of a worldwide controversy, they issued a statement of apology. However, they justified Matuschik's comments by explaining that he had no intention of being racist and simply expressed his opinion of the Korean boy band in an "ironically exaggerated manner."
In doing so, the host "overshot his choice of words and thus hurt the feelings of the BTS fans," the statement said.
In a follow-up statement to BuzzFeed Germany, Matuschik said the nationality of the group didn't matter to him and that he "underestimated the huge fan potential hidden behind [BTS]," and claimed the ARMY, who he described as "fanatical followers of a musical cash machine," twisted his comments around to make him appear racist.
Fans and non-fans alike were not amused with Bayern3's statement, and Matuschik's follow-up comments didn't exactly calm the waters.
Social media users were enraged with Matuschik's (non-)apology
Bayern3 follows up with second, more sincere apology
Many users pointed out the xenophobic trope of likening Asian people to the coronavirus amid an alarming surge in violence against Asian Americans.
The station has since followed up with a more sincere apology, in which both Bayern3 and Matuschik admitted his comments were "unacceptable."
"I was primarily annoyed by the fact that the boy band BTS covered the song 'Fix You' by Coldplay, a group I really admire," Matuschik said. "The nationality of the seven boys shouldn't matter – mentioning them and therefore creating a connection with a virus was completely wrong."
He added that he has campaigned against "right-wing activities" and for refugees since 2015.
"It saddens me (...) if I hurt others with a thoughtless statement, that I had intended to be funny, and therefore made myself look bad," he concluded. "I made a huge mistake that I'll learn from. I am really sorry."
Cover photo: collage IMAGO / ZUMA Wire; Screenshot Twitter @BangtanGER_twt