Big Hit Music, the South Korean record label behind pop icons BTS, is taking legal action against netizens posting "malicious" and "false information" about the group.
In a statement dated June 29, the company revealed they are "regularly" filing both civil and criminal cases on individuals caught peddling "ill-intentioned criticism, groundless information, sexual harassment, personal attacks, and defamation" online.
"We have filed criminal complaints about defamation (Article 70 of the Act on Promotion of Information and Communication Network Utilization and Information Protection, etc.) and insult (Article 311 of the Criminal Act) against perpetrators who engaged in repeated posting or spreading malicious replies and writings exceeding the boundaries of socially-acceptable expression of opinions on online communities, blogs, and social media," Big Hit Music wrote in the release.
"A stay of proceedings that had been issued for a previous complaint due to uncertainty of the defendant’s place of residence was lifted after the perpetrator was newly identified and law enforcement ordered an additional investigation. For cases where the criminal complaint was concluded with sentencing, we filed additional civil suits for damages," it added.
Big Hit Music stressed that strict measures, such as the zero leniencies and no settlement policy, are being implemented to ensure those "engaging in malicious acts will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law."
"As can be illustrated by these examples, our company is committed to the relentless pursuit of perpetrators of malicious postings; we ask for your understanding that we may be unable to release further details or comment on pending cases to ensure that perpetrators can be identified and investigations remain confidential," it said.
While the aforementioned stringent articles can only be enforced in South Korea, it is also possible for the label to remotely file charges against netizens in other countries, such as the Philippines.
In the Philippines, the label could slap criminal and civil complaints on individuals that violate the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines, as amended (Act No. 3815 ) or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 (RA 10175).
Online users found guilty of cyber libel, for example, could face imprisonment (4 years, 2 months, and 1 day to 8 years) and/or a hefty fine, without prejudice to any civil liabilities that may be awarded by the court.
BTS members, who are known to boldly and unapologetically break away from traditional gender norms, are often hit with homophobic slurs by Filipino netizens.
Pinoys have managed to trend the derogatory phrase "BTS Biot," pronounced the same as "bayot," a Bisaya term for a gay or transgender person, on several occasions.
For instance, a series of screenshots showing Grab Philippines delivery riders making homophobic remarks about the group recently circulated online.
ARMY, the fanbase of BTS, also previously chastised two male senior high students from Jose Rizal Memorial University after the photoshoot they conducted, which featured them holding a whiteboard with the hashtag “#BTSBiot” written, went viral.
To safeguard Jin, Suga, J-Hope, RM, Jimin, V, and Jungkook, Big Hit Music requested fans to report hateful and false content to their hotline firstname.lastname@example.org.
"We are always grateful for the affection and dedication shown by our fans of BTS. We will continue to work to ensure that the rights of our artists are fully protected," it stated.