The K-pop genre — and especially crown jewel BTS — is known for its massive, devoted online fanbase. And HYBE plans to keep it that way. The high-power entertainment agency behind BTS, TOMORROWXTOGETHER and Seventeen just took legal action to curb “malicious” online commenters in South Korea.
In a statement published to online fan hub Weverse, HYBE (formerly known as Big Hit Entertainment) says it filed criminal complaints in a South Korean court for defamation and insult against online commenters “who engaged in repeated posting or spreading malicious replies and writings exceeding the boundaries of socially-acceptable expression of opinions” about its roster.
“Our company is committed to the relentless pursuit of perpetrators of malicious postings,” the statement reads. “We will continue to initiate strict measures to ensure that perpetrators who engage in these malicious acts are prosecuted to the full extent of the law, and our policy of no settlement and no leniency remains in effect.”
Unlike in the U.S., where defamation and libel are civil matters and truth is an absolute defense, defamation can constitute a criminal charge in South Korea — even for a true statement. HYBE also references South Korea’s Criminal Act, which sanctions imprisonment or a fine for insulting another person in public.
HYBE regularly initiates this kind of legal action, even encouraging fans to use its legal email hotline to submit information regarding “malicious” posts about its artists. It filed similar criminal complaints in 2019.
“We are always grateful for the affection and dedication shown by our fans of BTS,” the statement concludes. “We will continue to work to ensure that the rights of our artists are fully protected.”