In celebration of BTS member Jungkook’s birthday on September 1, a devoted fan gleefully commissioned a billboard advertisement of the South Korean singer at a busy intersection in the city of Gujranwala, Pakistan.
The billboard bore a picture of the musician along with the phrases “Happy 24th Birthday” and “Jungkook BTS Gujranwala Army.”
The band’s Pakistani fans were overjoyed at the local recognition of the pop star. Known worldwide as “army,” the K-pop band’s dedicated and global fanbase is one of the largest in the world.
But the party ended just hours later when the fans found the billboard had been taken down. A provincial assembly candidate and member of the Islamist political party Jamaat-e-Islami had the ad removed after it was brought to his attention on Facebook.
“We received a lot of complaints from people. There was so much commotion,” assembly candidate Furqan Aziz Butt told VICE World News. “There are young people in this city. This group (BTS) has a negative influence on them and encourages them to behave in wrong activities. They promote homosexuality.”
“Why was this put up here? 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,” added Butt.
Some clearly don’t know how many K-pop fans exist in Pakistan. Those who are unfamiliar with their popularity, often mock male K-pop artists for their appearance and fashion choices that are deemed “effeminate” by those unfamiliar with the industry’s male beauty standards.
“Older people are of the opinion that their physical features and attire are too feminine because they consider them ‘too skinny,’ and have an issue that they put makeup on their face,” said Zainab Zaman, a 24-year-old student and BTS fan from Islamabad.
The removal of the billboard has stoked rage and disappointment among the band’s local admirers. Fans have been tweeting angrily about the move.
For the Pakistani “army,” it’s the prejudice behind the billboard takedown that’s a shame.
“The Gujranwala incident has hurt Pakistan’s BTS army very badly,” said Zaman. “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?”
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