"You thought it was BTS fever": Jimmy Kimmel's comparison between BTS and COVID-19 lands the talk show host in trouble

The episode featuring Ashley Park aired on January 20 (Image via Jimmy Kimmel Live!)
The episode featuring Ashley Park aired on January 20 (Image via Jimmy Kimmel Live!)

American TV host Jimmy Kimmel has invoked the wrath of ARMY and several others, as his jokes about BTS in an episode featuring Ashley Park have sparked racism allegations.

Ashley Park made an appearance on the talk show, Jimmy Kimmel Live! to promote her Netflix series Emily in Paris.

Parks, who is of Korean descent, had performed the cover of BTS’ "Dynamite" on Emily in Paris, and V’s and RM’s reactions to her sequence had left the actor jittery with excitement. It was while the discussion was going on that Jimmy Kimmel made a couple of comments that have not gone down well with the audience, especially with ARMY members.


Jimmy Kimmel made an uncomfortable comparison between BTS and COVID-19

In the January 20 episode, Parks gushed about V and RM posting her cover of "Dynamite" on their then recently opened Instagram accounts. The actor expressed her gratitude to the group, and confessed her love for them.

Jimmy Kimmel brought up the topic of her cover of "Dynamite", saying:

“You sang a BTS song on the show, and I wonder what the fallout from something like that is because I know that, like, we’ve had them on our show and, like, their fans will camp out. They’re probably still out in the parking lot waiting for the next time they come on. They are absolutely crazed for these guys.”

Kimmel then went on to make a wry comment about the BTS ARMY and armies, saying:

“Yeah, you have to be careful with an army because they can attack.”

Ashley Park then confessed to being an ARMY herself, and it was due to her being a fan that "Dynamite" was played on Emily in Paris.

Park went on to describe her reaction to seeing V aka Kim Taehyung post a clip of her performance on her Instagram feed. The actor was reportedly getting a manicure when she found out, and her excitement was palpable.

While describing the event on the show too, Ashley Park was so visibly excited that Jimmy Kimmel joked:

“I can see you’re actually getting crazy about it right now.”

The actor then said she “couldn’t think, couldn’t talk, and couldn’t get up” for the rest of the day. While she credited this to the adrenaline rush to getting noticed by her favorite band, the reality was that she had the Omicron variant of COVID-19, as Park would soon find out.

The actor, who played Mindy in Emily in Paris, had assumed her body was going through a BTS-induced meltdown, rather than COVID. It is then that Kimmel made a comment which Ashley agreed with:

“You thought it was BTS fever.”

The TV show host’s next comment, however, is being accused by many as having racist undertones. He said:

“They’re both very dangerous. You’re lucky to come out of those alive.”

While the jokes about ARMY being dangerous and “crazy” were upsetting enough, this last comment comparing BTS to the COVID virus, for many, was the last straw.

Given how Asians were and are being blamed for the spread of COVID-19, such comments are in bad taste. The fact that Jimmy Kimmel did not find it strange to make this comment in front of another Asian/Korean woman was another matter of concern for fans.

In light of this controversy, many citizens started posting other instances of racism, both intended and unintended, on the popular talk show’s part.

At the Oscars hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, he made fun of non-anglicized names numerous times throughout the show, especially Asian names. Kimmel was also accused of asking intentionally condescending questions to K-pop bands like BTS and BLACKPINK.

In conversation with Jisoo from BLACKPINK, Kimmel asked her what her favorite English word was, which many compared to asking Jimmy Kimmel his favorite Korean word.

Watch the full interview here:

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Given the pervasive anti-Asian sentiments in the world today, and especially in the US, the comedian’s comparison of BTS and COVID-19 are decidedly in poor taste. So far neither Kimmel nor Ashley Park have commented on the situation.

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Edited by R. Elahi