BEIJING (AP) – Chinese social media platform Weibo banned a fan club of popular South Korean K-pop group BTS from posting for 60 days, claiming it had collected funds illegally, days after the publication of photographs of a personalized airplane financed by the fan club. in line.
The fan club’s account, which had over 1.1 million subscribers on Weibo, centered around BTS member Jimin. The restrictions on the account came amid China’s campaign to clean up the entertainment industry and crack down on “irrational behavior” displayed by fans.
Chinese President Xi Jinping called for “national rejuvenation” with tighter Communist Party control over business, education, culture and religion.
The party has since curtailed children’s access to online games and tries to discourage what it sees as unhealthy attention to celebrities. Last week, the government banned effeminate men from television and banned idol development shows for their “low moral standards” which could have a bad influence on young people.
BTS’s fan account was banned from posting to Weibo after images circulated online last week of a Jeju Air custom plane with images of Jimin on it. The custom plane was part of the club’s plans to celebrate its 26th anniversary in October.
The coup drew fierce criticism online for its excess. In the wake of the backlash, the account last week posted a statement on its news feed urging fans to be “rational” when looking for celebrities for a “harmonious and healthy internet environment.”
Weibo said in a statement on Sunday that the group was banned from posting for 60 days after discovering it had illegally raised funds.
“Weibo strongly opposes such irrational star-hunting behavior and will treat it seriously,” the statement said.
The fan club began raising funds in April to prepare for the anniversary celebrations, according to state media Global Times, with more than one million yuan ($ 150,000) raised in the first three minutes of the day. fundraising activity and 2.3 million yuan ($ 360,000) in the first hour.
The club also planned to run ads celebrating Jimin’s birthday in newspapers like the New York Times.
It is not uncommon for K-pop fans around the world to celebrate the birthdays of their favorite celebrities by doing newspaper and billboard advertisements or by personalizing public transport vehicles with images of their idols. .
Many fans also fundraise to donate to charitable causes such as funding the education of underprivileged people or sponsoring wild animals on behalf of stars as part of such celebrations.
Weibo also said in a separate statement on Sunday that it had banned 21 other fan accounts for 30 days for posting “irrational starhunting” content. The banned fan accounts focused primarily on K-pop celebrities, such as members of South Korean boy groups NCT and EXO, and girl group Blackpink.
Celebrities in China are often forced to conform to or suffer repercussions from the values held by the Chinese government. Celebrities such as Fan Bingbing and Zheng Shuang have been fined heavily for tax evasion, and popular actress Zhao Wei last week had her name removed from the credits of movies and TV shows she had starred in. played without explanation.
Chinese singer and actor Lu Han, a former member of popular K-pop group EXO, said on Sunday he would sever ties with Swiss luxury watch brand Audemars Piguet after a video posted online last week showing its CEO calling Taiwan an “ultra-modern, high-tech country.”
China, which claims Taiwan as its territory, opposes any reference to the autonomous island as a country. Under one-country policy, other countries have diplomatic relations with China or Taiwan, but not both.