Weibo froze a fan club account of the popular South Korean K-pop band BTS for 60 days. The Chinese social media giant said the action was taken because the club had carried out illegal fund-raising activities.
Weibo’s decision to ban anything on the account comes days after photos of the special plane funded by the fan club were posted online.
The BTS fan club account, which has more than 1.1 million followers on Weibo, focuses on one BTS member named Jimin. The restrictions imposed on the account come amid China’s relentless efforts to regulate the entertainment industry and suppress the “irrational behavior” exhibited by its fans.
Chinese President Xi Jinping called for “national rejuvenation” through the Communist Party’s tighter control of business, education, culture and religion. The party has reduced children’s access to online games and is trying to prevent anything they think generates unhealthy attention to celebrities.
Last week, the government banned men with feminine looks from appearing on television and banned idol-seeking programs deemed to be a bad influence on young people.
The BTS fan account was frozen on Weibo after last week posting a number of pictures showing a special Jeju Air plane featuring Jimin’s image on its outer surface. The plane with Jimin’s picture is part of the club’s plans to celebrate Jimin’s 26th birthday in October.
The club’s action drew criticism because it was considered excessive. Following the reaction, the account issued a statement last week urging Jimin’s fans to be rational towards their idol so as to create a harmonious and healthy internet environment.
Weibo said in a statement Sunday that the group had been banned from posting anything for 60 days after it was discovered that it was illegally collecting funds.
The fan club began raising funds in April to prepare for Jimin’s birthday celebrations, according to state media Global Times. In the first hour alone, over $350,000 was raised. The figure continues to swell but the number is kept secret.
The club also plans to place happy birthday advertisements for Jimin in leading newspapers, such as The New York Times. [ab/uh]