A printer in Russia has turned away work celebrating the Korean boyband BTS, saying they had enough "normal" clients and didn’t want to help turn children into "perverts."
According to a recent story in the Russian Times, the PinkyPop café in Ekaterinburg in the Ural Federal District of the country had sent an order to a local print shop featuring images of the popular K-pop group. The café has a K-pop theme and was hoping to print some banners, greeting cards, and other materials that featured BTS. As the PinkyPop owners explained in a since-deleted story posted to their Instagram (@PinkyPop.Cafe), the print shop was ready to handle their order — until they saw the content.
"We discussed all the work and details, and placed our first order," the PinkyPop café owner explained. Then when the printer saw pictures of BTS and another band, Stray Kids, at that point, the PinkyPop explained "they began to ignore us." When they were finally able to connect and ask for an explanation, the printer revealed his homophobia.
"Do I understand correctly that these people have a non-traditional orientation?" the printer reportedly asked, adding the band members weren't "hiding their orientation" and declaring "we won’t be printing this."
The printer reportedly also asked PinkyPop if they wanted their "children to become perverts" and opined it was "stupid to support something that may leave you with no grandchildren."
The printer then added they "have enough normal clients to be able to choose who to work with and who not to."
BTS is one of the biggest-selling recording artists in the world, and part of their popularity in their home country of South Korea is that they are firm allies of the global LGBTQ+ community and have discussed issues normally off-limits in the culturally conservative country. Their loyal followers call themselves the ARMY.
Russia has grown increasingly hostile to the LGBTQ+ community under the rule of President Vladimir Putin. Earlier this year, Putin enacted a series of anti-LGBTQ+ amendments approved by voters banning marriage equality and transgender adoptions, and centering "a belief in God" as a core value of the country. In the Nevsky district of St. Petersburg, school teachers were directed to comb through the social media profiles of their students in grades 5 through 11 and create dossiers on those they suspected might be LGBTQ+ or their allies. School officials claimed they were looking for violations of new laws that allegedly protect children from LGBTQ+ influences. A Russian ice cream band was accused of promoting "gay propaganda" because it sold rainbow-colored ice cream.
A visit to the PinkyPop website and Instagram profile shows a variety of printed items available for sale, all with the K-pop theme. It remains unclear if they have been able to find a new printer for their materials.