September 7, 2021 9:59:13 am
The Chinese social media Weibo banned a fan club of popular South Korean K-pop band BTS from posting for 60 days, claiming that the club had raised funds illegally, days after photographs of a customized airplane funded by the club went viral on social media. The plane was part of the club’s plans to celebrate band member Jimin’s 26th birthday in October.
In a statement Weibo said, “Weibo firmly opposes such irrational star-chasing behaviour and will deal with it seriously,” the statement said.
The fan club account, which has around 1.1 million followers on Weibo, was focussed on Jimin and his birthday on October 13. The fans had begun raising money in April to prepare for his birthday celebrations, according to the state-owned media Global Times, with over 1 million yuan ($150,000) raised in the first three minutes of the fundraising activity and 2.3 million yuan ($360,000) in the first hour. The club also wanted to run advertisements celebrating Jimin’s birthday in newspapers like the New York Times.
The restrictions imposed on the fan account come as Beijing attempts to cleanse the entertainment industry and clamp down on ‘irrational behaviour’ exhibited by fans. According to South Morning China Post, China’s state-owned news agency Xinhua said the cyberspace watchdog removed 150,000 examples of “harmful” online content and punished more than 4,000 fan-club-related accounts. The banned fan accounts focussed on other K-Pop bands, including Blackpink, EXO, and NCT.
Weibo also said that it would remove its Star Power Ranking List, which apparently ‘encouraged competition’ among fan groups that could raise their idol’s position on the list.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has called for a “national rejuvenation” with tighter Communist Party control of business, education, culture and religion.
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