The Jakarta Post
BTS performs at Seoul Olympic Stadium on Oct. 29, 2019. (Big Hit Entertainment/The Korea Herald/File)
Online shopping platform Tokopedia has issued a statement responding to allegations that its advertisement starring Korean pop vocal group BTS was campaigning for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.
A group calling itself the Strategic Review Advocacy Institution (LAKSI) has reportedly called on the Indonesian Broadcasting Commission (KPI) to revoke the advertisement for having LGBT nuances.
Tokopedia vice president for corporate communications Nuraini Razak confirmed to The Jakarta Post on Saturday that the group, comprising three people, had staged a protest in front of Tokopedia's headquarters in Jakarta on Thursday, citing police reports. She said that the group, however, did not meet directly with Tokopedia's representatives.
"Tokopedia is an Indonesian technology firm that respects the diversity of views of the Indonesian people, however, as an institution, Tokopedia doesn't side with any views," Nuraini said in a written statement received by the Post on Saturday.
Tokopedia announced in October last year that it had named K-pop sensation BTS as its new ambassador. Nuraini said in the statement that Tokopedia had partnered with BTS for the group's strong commitment in sending positive messages to the world.
BTS is known for its large global fanbase, with its members having delivered a speech at the United Nations in September 2018 during the launch of a UNICEF youth campaign dubbed "Generation Unlimited", which promotes education, training and employment. The group has also jointly staged the Love Myself campaign with UNICEF to fight violence against children and teens.
"The journey and vision of BTS along with the messages that they consistently distribute: to work, achieve our dreams, to be against bullying, and other positive messages, are aligned with those of Tokopedia's," the statement reads.
Indonesian BTS fans, known as ARMYs, took to Twitter to call out LAKSI's ignorance and homophobia, highlighting that their idols had been campaigning positive messages through their songs and speeches.
With the popularity of Korean singers and actors in Indonesia, local brands have embraced them and featured the stars in advertisements or as brand ambassadors.
The BTS advertisement was not the first to receive criticism. In 2018, a television commercial and a program for online marketplace Shopee that featured another K-pop sensation BLACKPINK drew controversy after the KPI said it had failed to adhere to decency norms as stated in the Broadcasting Code of Conduct and Program Standards.
The KPI sent out warning letters to 11 television stations after a petition demanding the commission stop airing the Shopee BLACKPINK commercial was started by Maimon Herawati on change.org in 2018. In her statement, she said the girl band’s outfits were too short. The petition garnered hundreds of thousands signatures. (ars)
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