Jimin, a member of the South Korean pop band Bangtan Sonyeondan (BTS), published a heartfelt apology to fans on Thursday for unspecified “immaturity,” mentioning his recent visit to the White House to discuss hate crimes with President Joe Biden.
The White House reached out to BTS, the most successful South Korean musical act on a global scale in history, on the occasion of Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month (AANHPI) Heritage Month to help promote Asian inclusion and diversity, according to Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, who addressed reporters on Tuesday alongside the boy band.
Korean pop (K-pop) websites suspected that Jimin’s apology, while mentioning the in-person meeting with Biden, was not related to the event, but in response to a months-long controversy in which South Korea’s National Health Insurance Service (NHIS) seized the singer’s Seoul home because he had not paid his health insurance premiums. Jimin was hospitalized this year with appendicitis and Chinese coronavirus.
BTS’s record label, BigHit Entertainment, had previously stated that Jimin was entirely unaware of the unpaid bills, but K-pop fandoms are notoriously aggressive in demanding reverence from their stars, including routine apologies.
“ARMY, this is Jimin. You all have been doing well right?” Jimin wrote in Korean on the social media site Weverse on Thursday after an extended absence from social media. “ARMY” is the BTS fanbase’s preferred name for itself.
“This time we visited the US. You’re probably going to be well aware of what event we took part in. Making us feel thankful and feel honored for the fact that there are you all ARMYs from diverse races, countries, and cultures,” Jimin wrote. “We were able to represent you all and amplify your voices by taking part in this event.”
“Only, I wondered that me, who went there to represent you all, is still a lot inexperienced,” the statement continued. “I’m sorry for worrying you because of my immaturity. In the future, I will do my best to become more mature so that I do not cause [more] concerns.”
“You must have been worried since I didn’t come to visit often. I will come more often,” the statement concluded.
jimin weverse post translation pic.twitter.com/9TcmJBo1nd
— 윤서⁷ (slow) (@btsinthemoment) June 2, 2022
The statement did not elaborate on what “inexperience” or “immaturity” Jimin, 26, was apologizing for.
During Tuesday’s White House Press Briefing, the band did not display any signs of distress. Jimin issued a brief statement on Korean asserting that the pop group wanted to “put a stop to” hate crimes and, given their Asian identity and global prominent, felt they had a prominent role to play.
“We were devastated by the recent surge of hate crimes, including Asian American hate crimes,” Jimin told the White House Press Corps, according to his translator. “To put a stop on [sic] this and support the cause, we’d like to take this opportunity to voice ourselves once again.”
Another member of the band, known as “J-Hope,” used his statement exclusively to thank the band’s fans.
“We are here today thanks to our ARMY — our fans worldwide, who have different nationalities and cultures and use different languages. We are truly and always grateful,” J-Hope said.
Multiple K-pop news outlets speculated on Thursday that Jimin’s message was addressing the seizure of his home by the South Korean government.
“Earlier, it was reported that Jimin had his Hannam One Hill apartment seized in January because he owed 28 million KRW (~22,544 USD) in health insurance premiums,” the site All K-pop reported. “It is reported that National Health Insurance Service (NHIS) had sent a seizure registration notice four times, and the property seizure was canceled after the insurance premium was repaid.”
During the same month, Jimin was rushed to the hospital with appendicitis and Chinese coronavirus and reportedly endured surgery on January 31. Reports have not clarified if he was in the hospital when the NHIS seized his home. He was reportedly discharged on February 5.
South Korea implements a universal healthcare system through its NHIS.
Following the reported home seizure in January, BigHit Entertainment issued a statement saying that Jimin had no idea his health insurance premiums were not being paid and apologizing for “company negligence.” Jimin reportedly received possession of his home again on April 22.
Jimin’s apology, if indeed related to his healthcare woes, is the second time in recent memory that the BTS member felt compelled to issue a profusive apology for health-related issues. In 2017, Jimin apologized to fans for not being able to perform in Macau, reportedly due to severe cramping in the neck and shoulder. BTS performances typically feature elaborate dance performances.
“I’m terribly sorry. Let’s get together again soon, I love you and thank you,” a tearful Jimin told fans during a brief appearance at the concert.
The Jimin apology bookmarks a bizarre trip to Washington for the band that included some fan discomfort beginning even before BTS met with Biden. Reports in K-pop publications noted that online ARMY members panicked this weekend after another band member, Jungkook, arrived in the United States on Saturday, a day before the other six bandmates. Jungkook deleted most of the posts on his Instagram account before the White House visit.
“Worried fans took to Twitter to post messages, with many asking if the singer was okay, while others wondered if it was part of the promotions for the band’s upcoming album, Proof,” Indian Express reported at the time.
Jungkook did not apologize, but fans reportedly calmed down after another bandmate posted a candid video where Jungkook could be heard speaking in the background.
Shortly before the White House visit, irate BTS fans also demanded an apology from Coway Global, a hygiene technology company the band has signed an advertising deal with, because an advertisement featuring BTS appeared to obscure a tattoo on Jungkook’s arm.
Coway Global effusively apologized for the alleged “mistake.”
Hello everyone, here's the revised version of the previous photo. There was a mistake while editing the skin tone and there was no intention to disrespect the artist. As we promised, this kind of mistake won't take place again. We always respect our brand ambassador, @BTS_twt💜 pic.twitter.com/isiaThFa58
— Coway Global (@Coway_Global) May 24, 2022
The constant pressure from fanbases and demands for attention and apologies have created a high-pressure atmosphere partially blamed for a string of suicides in the industry. The most high-profile K-pop suicide among boy band members so far was the death of Jonghyun, a member of the band SHINee, in 2017.
“Becoming famous was probably not my life. They tell me that’s why I’m having a hard time … Why did I choose that? It’s funny that I’m able to endure this much,” a note found at the site of his death read, according to South Korean news agencies.
In 2019, two women in the K-pop industry – Sulli of the band f(x) and Goo Ha-ra, formerly of the band Kara – also committed suicide. Goo had attempted and failed to commit suicide months before her death and issued an emotional apology to fans for the first suicide attempt from the hospital.
“I am sorry for causing concerns and a commotion … from now on, I will steel my heart and try to show up healthy,” the apology read. “I am truly sorry. I will show a brighter and healthier side of myself.”