German radio host likens BTS to COVID-19, scores Coldplay cover on ‘MTV Unplugged’

German radio host Matthias Matuschik (left) and BTS (Markus Konvalin-BR and Twitter)

German radio host Matthias Matuschik has been slammed by fans of K-pop superstars BTS after he made racist comments against them after they performed on “MTV Unplugged” including covering Coldplay’s “Fix You.”

During his radio program on station Bayern 3, he made disparaging remarks against BTS including likening them to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and that they deserved to be sent to North Korea and stay there for 20 years for their Coldplay performance.

“Some s*** virus for which hopefully a vaccine will be available soon. Nothing against South Korea. You cannot say I'm xenophobic only because of a boy band from South Korea. Korea rules…well SK. But BTS. BTS actually did an ‘MTV Unplugged.’ For a boy band 'unplugged' is already a paradox in itself,” he said, according to a translation by Twitter account BTS Updates Germany.

Matuschik added, “And then these little f* are bragging that they covered 'Fix You' from Coldplay. I say blasphemy and I'm an atheist but this is outrageous. For this, you (BTS) are gonna go on vacation to North Korea for the next 20 years. This was the moderation for 'Fix You' but for the Coldplay version because everything else you can throw away.’

The remarks clearly outraged BTS ARMY around the world. For this, the hashtags #Bayern3Racist, #RassismusBeiBayern3 and #Bayern3Apologize trended on Twitter as well as the topics “RACISM IS NOT AN OPINION” and “APOLOGIZE TO BTS.”

Statement from Bayern 3

After the fiasco, radio station Bayern 3 posted a statement in which it apologized to BTS fans but defended Matuschik, saying it was his personal opinion.

The show said “Matthias Matuschik gave his personal opinion on the very successful South Korean band BTS and their cover of the Coldplay song ‘Fix You’ during their Unplugged concert and many of you complained about it.”

“It is the character of this program and also of the host to express his opinion clearly, openly and in the raw,” it said.

Because of his “attempt to express his opinion in an ironically exaggerated manner,” the station said, he “hurt the feelings of the BTS fans. But he had - he assured us - in no way intended that. He just wanted to express his displeasure with the cover version.”

“This is his personal opinion on taste, regardless of the band's origin and cultural background. You don’t have to share this taste, nor the quite coarse expression. The story of Matthias and his actions in the past (such as his involvement in refugee aid and constant campaign against right wing extremism) clearly show that he is absolutely distant from xenophobia and racism in any form.”

“But does not change the fact that many of you have found his statements hurtful or racist. We apologize for this. We will work on the topic again in detail with Matthias and the team in the next few days,” the station said.

Letter to Bayern 3

BTS ARMYs sent a letter to Bayern 3 after it issued its statement.

“Regardless of whether you like BTS as a band or not, this racist verbal attack against them is beyond disgraceful and should warrant, at the very minimum, an internal investigation. This behavior reflects very poorly on your station and discourages would-be listeners,” according to the letter.

It added, “This misconduct is being seen and discussed globally. I expect for there to be appropriate consequences for the racist behavior of your radio host. We as fans are not perceiving his actions and statements as racist. They are racist.”

“Your current statement is inadequate. Racism is not a personal opinion. It is wrong. Matuschik’s statements are clearly racially-motivated, as the reference to COVID-19 and exilement to North Korea to demean a Korean band cannot be anything else. Matuschik claims to be an anti-racist ally, but his actions speak louder than his words,” according to the letter.

“BTS fans are not easily placated. Our feelings are not being hurt because someone said something mean about our favorite band. We are decrying racism and expect for you to do the same. I appreciate your consideration of this issue and strongly implore you to take action against racism. Xenophobia and racism has no place anywhere, and certainly not on public radio,” they said.