Fans of South Korean boy band BTS have donated nearly $10,000 worth of winter goods to Korean “comfort women.” File Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI
Dec. 17 (UPI) — Fans of South Korean pop sensation BTS have donated nearly $10,000 worth of winter goods to an advocacy group that raises awareness of the plight of Korean “comfort women” forced to serve in Japanese brothels during World War II.
BTS’ official fan club, ARMY, made the $9,720 donation over the weekend, the Korean Council for Justice and Remembrance for the Issues of Military Sexual Slavery by Japan said Monday.
“On [Sunday], the fan club of idol group BTS, known as ARMY, provided support in the form of winter goods for the surviving victims of Japanese military sexual slavery,” the council said in statement.
The fund drive began on Nov. 9 and ended Nov. 30. ARMY solicited donations from members in South Korea, Japan, Europe and Latin America, and collected nearly $10,000 for elderly women who say they were repeatedly beaten and raped in wartime camps in Asia.
In their official statement, ARMY said fans agreed they wanted the “grandmothers” to stay warm during an increasingly cold winter.
The winter fund drive is not the first time BTS fans have forwarded contributions to comfort women. The group also donated $8,000 to the Korean Council in October, according to South Korean news service Tongil News.
The issue of Korean comfort women has driven a wedge between Seoul and Tokyo, where the conservative administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has refused to cancel a fund for the victims. Some survivors have said the money was privately sourced and therefore could not be accepted as compensation.
In November, a Japanese television station canceled a BTS appearance over a controversial t-shirt.
BTS member Jimin wore a top depicting the U.S. atomic bombing of Japan, which some in Japan saw as celebrating the bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.
Fans of BTS have since donated to victims of the atomic bombs, according to the Korea Herald.
By Elizabeth Shim, UPI