German radio host in racism row after comparing K-pop band to coronavirus

German radio host in racism row after comparing K-pop band to coronavirus

A radio station in Bavaria has triggered an international racism row after one of its presenters compared the South Korean pop band BTS to coronavirus

Bayern 3 lands in hot water

The small public radio broadcaster Bayern 3 found its name trending worldwide this week after one of its presenters was accused of making racist remarks live on air. The row began when presenter Matthias Matuschik used his show to make disparaging comments about a new single released by the K-pop boy band BTS, a cover of “Fix You” by Coldplay. 

Matuschik compared the band to coronavirus, saying they were “some crappy virus that hopefully there will be a vaccine for soon.” He went on to say, “These little a**holes brag about the fact they covered “Fix You” by Coldplay, this is blasphemy. For this you will be vacationing in North Korea for the next 20 years.”

Perhaps sensing that his comments had crossed a line, Matuschik then hastily tried to backtrack: “You can’t accuse me of xenophobia,” he said. “I have a car from South Korea. I have the coolest car ever.”

#Bayern3Racist trending on Twitter

BTS’s loyal fans were quick to take to the internet to accuse Matuschik of racism, with the comparison to coronavirus deemed particularly offensive. Since the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic at the end of 2019, organisations such as Korientation (the “Network for German-Asian Perspectives”) have reported a sharp increase in racist acts against people perceived to be Asian in Germany and worldwide. 

By midday on Friday, more than 1,3 million tweets had appeared containing the hashtag #Bayern3Racist as users urged the radio station to issue an apology. 

Initially, Bayern 3 tried to downplay the significance of the incident, writing in its first official statement: “It is the character of this programme and also of the presenter to express his opinion clearly, openly and bluntly. In this case he overshot the mark in his choice of words in an attempt to present his opinion in an ironically exaggerated manner.” 

But Twitter users were quick to point out that this statement did not read like an apology and instead seemed an attempt to defend the host, by passing accountability to those who took offence. 

Matuschik has apologised for racist remarks

Later in the day, Bayern 3 did a full U-turn and apologised for Matuschik’s remarks, writing in a statement that his words were unacceptable and that “both he and we at Bayern 3 know that it is not enough to actually mean things differently. When statements are perceived by many people as offensive or racist, then they are.” 

Matuschik said he was “dismayed” by the reaction to his statements: “I am very sorry and I would like to sincerely apologise… The nationality of the seven boys shouldn’t matter - mentioning it and making connection with a virus was completely wrong.” 



Abi Carter

Managing Editor at IamExpat Media. Abi studied German and History at the University of Manchester and has since lived in Berlin, Hamburg and Utrecht, working since 2017 as a writer,...

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