BamBam, a member of the South Korean boy band GOT7, apologized to fans on Friday for posting a series of pictures on social media that included at least one photo from a trip to Russia.
The photos of international destinations (including Russia), which BamBam wrote were taken during the “old days,” were recently shared on his Instagram account. The comments section for the post soon filled up with angry messages, including many notes from Ukrainian fans who were outraged he would celebrate a country whose leader is attacking their home.
The controversy is not typical for GOT7, who quickly became one of K-pop‘s most popular acts after the release of their debut EP in 2014. The boy band enjoys a devoted following on social media and recently released a comeback album this spring after taking a brief hiatus. Though the group is based in South Korea, BamBam is from Thailand, and he continues to do work for disadvantaged children in his home country through the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF).
BamBam addressed the issue by taking out any pictures of Russia in an update of the Instagram post and tweeting out an apology.
“If I upset some of u guys, I want to apologize. But…you guys should know in that post is a lot of photos from different country [sic],” he wrote on Twitter. “Y’all come attack me like that do you think is a right thing to do?”
However, a follow-up tweet indicated BamBam might be bitter. He wrote, “Now I can’t even think about my old memories now thank you.”
Before his apology, the outrage spread from his Instagram comments to posts on Twitter.
“#BAMBAM_APOLOGIZE YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED !!! While Russia is sending us thousands of bombs, destroying schools, kindergartens, hospitals, public places and living quarters!!!,” read one message on Twitter that was typical of the angry response.
His message about how he “can’t even think about my old memories” also sparked its own backlash.
“Ukrainians are dying everyday within 5 months because of the war by Russians and Putin while BamBam is sad because of nostalgia for Russia trips…,” said a tweet about his message that was written by a person in Kyiv.
Many GOT7 fans came to BamBam’s defense, noting that his visit to a country is not an endorsement of any leader’s actions.
“All BamBam did was post some old memories w his brothers & it happened to be Russia, yall have the audacity to directly jump the gun & make it a political issue?” wrote one defender.
“I understand that’s a sensitive issue but this has nothing to do with BamBam?? Like he posted pics from other countries too but you all attacked him for the Russia one? He went there almost 2-3 YEARS AGO and just wanted to share his pics with his members, stop acting weird,” said another supporter, who noted the photos did not appear to have been taken recently.
Newsweek reached out to GOT7 management for comment.