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People Are Stressing Asian Representation After BTS Made History At The Billboard Music Awards

After some people reduced the band to "these Asians," it's sparked renewed conversations about representation.

Posted on May 22, 2017, at 1:49 p.m. ET

K-pop group BTS nabbed Top Social Artist at the Billboard Music Awards on Sunday, becoming the first K-pop crew to ever win a Billboard Award. They beat out Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, Ariana Grande, and Shawn Mendes.

Ethan Miller / Getty Images

Their win was supported by their extremely loyal and devoted fans, who call themselves their "Army."

The hashtag for the group, “#BTSBBMAS," was tweeted 300 million times alone before the awards, Soompi reported.

"We still cannot believe that we’re standing here on this stage at the Billboard Music Awards," band member Rap Monster said, accepting the award.

Immediately following the win, social media revealed that a good handful of viewers had no idea who BTS were. Some diminished the band to "these Asians."

Who are these asians and why does it seem like the entire audience knows who they are

Who are these asians with bowl cuts on the #BBMAs

Their win really set off stans of the other pop acts in the category. "Not trying to be racist, but you don't see any American singer or band participating in a Korean award show so, like, BTS please just go back to Korea," one person wrote.

since none of y'all wanna talk, I'll do it for you #BBMAs

kpop is still irrelevant, nobody in te states is gonna listen to a korean song just because bts won an award

The reactions to the win had K-pop and BTS fans rolling their eyes. Cheyenne Taveras-Ramirez, a 19-year-old BTS fan from Pennsylvania, told BuzzFeed News the "racist remarks are what saddened" her as she was celebrating their win.

"I would like people to know BTS are more than a South Korean boy group," Taveras-Ramirez said. "[They] worked really hard to get where they're at today."

Cheyenne Taveras-Ramirez

She urges anyone unfamiliar with the band to give their music a chance. "They are incredibly talented," she added.

Others simply reminded those upset about the win that "there is an entire world outside of America, by the way."

there is an entire world outside of America btw

And that the K-pop group are not "the Asian One Direction," as they are popularly touted. They're BTS.

This is BTS. Not the Asian One Direction or PSY's little bros. They've worked hard to get here and I couldn't be pr…

It's also inspired many conversations about Asian representation in the music industry, media, and pop culture.

yea this is why we need asian representation here, people aren't used to seeing talented asians succeed in the musi…

Twenty-two-year-old Vida Saelee (@etherealfool) screenshot some of these tweets she saw on Sunday. "There is definitely a lack of Asian representation here in America and I think that's why it led to people to make racist remarks about BTS," she told BuzzFeed News.

"I'm Asian myself and it was tough growing up and not having much clue of what my identity is because there simply isn't enough famous Asians in the media to really look up to in America."

So glad that a kpop group like BTS has paved a new path & set new goals for Asian representation here. Social media is a very powerful tool

"They set the goal," Triet Minh Tran, 21, wrote. He told BuzzFeed News as an Asian-American himself, the Billboard win felt personal to him.

Seeing BTS win, I want to see more recognition and representation of Asian artists in music or acting. They set the goal. #BTSBBMAs #BBMAs

"I feel like many Asian artists, whether it's singers or actors, aren't as appreciated," Tran said. "They're there in the industry. They just aren't given the recognition or the opportunities so they just remain in their respective niches."

"I hope it'll be a wake-up call for more opportunities to be provided for aspiring Asian musicians or actors," he said.

Triet Minh Tran

"I know a lot of people don't understand the language so their first tendency is to not give it a chance," Tran said. However, he challenged people to give BTS a listen. That's how he became a fan in 2015, he said.


"Give it a shot and, hey, if you don't like it then you don't like it," he added.

The single moment has even given aspiring Asian musicians new hope to pursue the arts. "I used to be so scared since it's not a conventional career path, but BTS is the reason why I feel confident enough to continue on with my dreams in music," 17-year-old Anna Tamura said.

@winqsus As an Asian who's trying to make it in music, BTS is the reason why I feel like I can continue on with my dream. They give me hope.

"This was huge — not just for K-Pop but Asians in general."

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.