The BTS Army truly is global — and their reach is starting to cause them problems in some areas.
To celebrate the birthday of BTS member Jungkook, some fans of the gigantically popular boy band in Pakistan decided to commission a giant billboard telling him happy birthday. Unfortunately, the billboard was quickly taken down. The reason? It was "promoting homosexuality."
"Happy 24th Birthday," the billboard reads alongside a giant image of the singer. "Jungkook BTS Gujranwala Army." Gujranwala is the city in Pakistan that the billboard was erected in.
However, while the BTS stans are loving the billboard, others in the country, specifically the Islamist political party Jamaat-e-Islami, said it was inappropriate and took it down.
"We received a lot of complaints from people. There was so much commotion," assembly candidate Furqan Aziz Butt said to VICE World News. "There are young people in this city. This group has a negative influence on them and encourages them to behave in wrong activities. They promote homosexuality."
"Why put this up here?" he continued. "They don’t have a brand name here, nor do they sell products here. The people who put it up call themselves the Gujranwala Army. There’s only the Pakistan army here."
Clearly, he’s not the kind of person to pay attention to pop culture. BTS has a huge presence in Pakistan, and the fans there are just as dedicated as in the rest of the world. For them, the billboard being removed feels like a huge step backwards.
"The Gujranwala incident has hurt Pakistan’s BTS Army very badly," Zainab Zaman, a 24-year-old student and BTS fan in Islamabad said. "A politician just comes up out of nowhere and says that BTS is promoting homosexuality and spreading vulgarity. BTS has never used vulgar verses in their songs. They are just about loving yourself and being happy. Doesn’t he know how much he is ruining Pakistan’s image?"
This isn’t the first time images of BTS have been banned for "promoting homosexuality." Earlier this summer in Russia, a printing shop refused to print pictures of the band for a K-pop themed cafe because they didn’t want "children to become perverts."
When the print shop saw the images the cafe wanted to print, which included members of the band as well as Stray Kids, another band, they messaged them asking, "do I understand correctly that these people have a non-traditional orientation?" and saying "we won’t be printing this."
As far as we know, none of the members of BTS are gay or part of the LGBTQ+ community.