K-pop boy band BTS member Suga is getting the heat after the sermons of the late American cult leader James Warren “Jim” Jones were included in one of his songs in his new mixtape “D-2.”
Jones, who founded the Peoples Temple in the US in 1955, was responsible in the mass murder-suicide of 909 members of his cult in Jonestown in Guyana on Nov. 18, 1978. The victims, according to many reports, drank poison. Jones was found dead with a gunshot wound to the head.
Before the mass murder-suicide took place, California Rep. Leo Ryan and four others who went to Jonestown to investigate the cult were shot and killed by Jones’ followers at an airstrip.
In total, 918 people, almost all of them Americans, including 304 children and “two young adults from South Korea adopted as children by Temple families,” died on Nov. 18 in Guyana, according to the Alternative Considerations of Jonestown and Peoples Temple website “sponsored by the Special Collections of Library and Information Access at San Diego State University.”
Suga, using the name Agust D, released his second mixtape “D-2” on May 22 containing 10 tracks.
In the song “What Do You Think?”, parts of Jones’ actual sermons in 1976 and 1977 were included as samples in the intro: “Though you are dead, yet you shall live, and he that liveth and believeth shall never die” delivered in Philadelphia in 1977 and “Faithful workers coming in night after night, giving me their heart, giving me the spirit of socialism, their love” in San Francisco in 1976.
Suga took part in songwriting and lyrics for all the songs including “What Do You Think?”
In a statement issued on May 31, Big Hit Entertainment apologized but blamed the song’s producer.
“Regarding the speech sample that appears at the beginning of the b-side ‘What Do You Think?’ on Suga’s (BTS) ‘D-2’ mixtape, this is a decision made by the producer responsible for the aforementioned track after considering its overall atmosphere. It is made without being aware of the identity of the speaker and having no special intentions,” the agency said, JTBC Plus reported.
It added, “After the speech sample was selected, we conducted the steps to check the suitability of the content based on the agency’s internal processes. However, we made the mistake of not recognizing that this sample has inappropriate content during the review and selection processes before putting it into the song.”
According to the agency, “Although Big Hit always thoroughly identifies social, cultural, and historically problematic content through the reviewing process for various contents targeting toward the world, it has limitations in understanding and responding to all situations correctly.”
“In this case, we were unable to recognize the problems in advance, and also lacked understanding about the relevant historical and social issues. We apologize to those who felt uncomfortable or hurt because of this. After confirming the problem, we immediately removed the sample and re-released the song. Suga himself is also embarrassed and feels a sense of responsibility for the incident that he didn’t intend. Big Hit will consider this as a lesson and check out all the composition processes more strictly,” it said.