On July 20, Weverse Magazine published an essay by music writer Randy Suh on his thoughts about BTS‘s White House visit in May 2022. The article is a very personal piece written from the perspective of someone belonging to the Korean diaspora in the US.
[Weverse Magazine] What #BTS’s visit to the White House means to me as an overseas Korean and a marginal person
Want to know more? Go to Weverse Magazine!
— Weverse (@weverseofficial) July 20, 2022
The article went in deep into the impact BTS brought to the discussion of anti-Asian hate crimes in America. The author also added that though BTS are not Korean-Americans, they are playing a huge role in ensuring kids in the Asian-American diaspora get to have the identity representation they always deserved.
For Korean and other Asian American immigrants like myself, BTS is more than a famous boy band. As I watch a wall that seemed like it would remain in place for all time slowly come down thanks to their arrival, I can’t help but feel like we’re witnessing a very important moment in history.
— Randy Suh
Touching upon the debates that came up after it was announced that BTS will be visiting the White House to speak on anti-Asian hate during the AAPI Heritage Month, the article talks about how the band must know the feeling of being marginalized, even if they never immigrated to the US.
Randy Suh clarifies that even if BTS don’t live in the US, they have faced discrimination based on their ethnic identity. This is where he brings up the topic of BTS’s Korean songs. He says that while it was impressive that the group kept singing in Korean even after breaking into the US market, they were passively punished and pushed out for not letting go of their language and ethnicity.
The key flaw in the American melting pot is that while it appears at first to be accepting of marginal people, it discriminates harshly against those who refuse to let go of their former identity. Language plays a big part.
Columbia Records, which handled distribution for BTS in the US until 2021, never gave the group’s Korean-language music any promotion time on the radio. It wasn’t until their English releases, beginning with ‘Dynamite,’ that the label began to promote their songs.
— Randy Suh
This issue has been discussed within the BTS fandom for years now. ARMYs noticed the lack of support from Columbia Records for “Life Goes On”, a predominantly Korean single that came between the releases of “Dynamite” and “Butter” — the two English singles that put BTS on top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
the transition from Columbia Records to UMG is insane bc BTS’ Korean songs went from getting 6 radio spins (LGO) to 300+ (YTC)
and the way Army didnt even see it coming lmao we were so used to the boys’ Korean songs being treated unfairly compared to their english songs
— lea⁷ (@seokjinbit) July 20, 2022
just realizing that all this time and thru these past cbs columbia definitely had time and money to do shit to support bts releases more than just rting an announcement by bh yet they specifically chose not to .. but the moment they release an eng song … yea
— r⁷ in the box 🃏 (@daegustiger) August 6, 2020
Though this “call out” was a part of a bigger picture that Randy Suh presented in the article to establish the discrimination BTS faces in the West, fans are surprised by the direct nature of this acknowledgment and the fact that it came from an official channel like Weverse Magazine.