The South Korean K-Pop band BTS (Bangtan Sonyeondan) faces a fierce reaction from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) after the band’s leader made comments expressing his solidarity with the United States and supporting its relationship with South Korea.

As reported by Breitbart, last week, the Korean Society honored BTS with its James Van Fleet Award, becoming the youngest honorees to receive that award.

The Van Fleet Award, named after the renowned American general who founded the Korean Society, is given annually “to one or more distinguished Koreans or Americans in recognition of their outstanding contributions to the promotion of U.S.–Korea relations,” the organization said.

Upon receiving the award, the band’s lead singer took advantage of the moment, making a series of uncomfortable statements for the CCP. The CCP reacted and brought immediate consequences for all the band members. 

In his words, the band’s leader emphasized the unique relationship between South Korea and the United States, mainly from the Korean War’s United States’ participation. This war is still technically in force, as the countries involved never signed peace agreements. 

After thanking the organizers of the Van Fleet Award, the band’s lead singer, said, referring to the United States and South Korea, “We will always remember the history of pain that our two nations shared together, and the sacrifices of countless men and women.” The communist propaganda media, Global Times, interpreted the comment as an attack on China.

The Global Times’ immediate response suggested that China took the comments as an affront. Many Chinese cybernauts pointed out that discourse played into the hands of the Americans. According to the CCP, the United States played the role of aggressor in the war.

The newspaper claimed that “many” fanatics have immediately stopped following the group in China, offering alleged comments by anonymous Chinese “cybernauts” as arguments for their claims.

The CCP’s resentment of the speech has already impacted the band’s commercial support in the communist country. Users of the Chinese e-commerce sites JD.com and Tmall discovered that BTS edition smartphones and headsets had disappeared from the official Samsung store. 

The band’s promotional publications on FILA and Hyundai official Weibo websites also disappeared. 

The CCP frequently uses this type of bullying to intimidate and control foreign companies or artists’ speech as the CCP curtails their business within China. 

Last year, the CCP successfully intimidated the NBA after Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey posted a Twitter message supporting the anti-communist protests in Hong Kong. The Communist Party abruptly severed its relationship with the NBA, costing the sports league “hundreds of millions” of dollars in profits.