During a live broadcast held on August 19, BTS members Jin and RM got to try sandwiches and cakes—later revealed to be from a cafe named Plate D, located in Nonhyeon-dong, Seoul.
Because Jin and RM do not like avocados, they didn’t really feel the avocado sandwich. But RM tried the ham sandwich and called it “JMT,” a Korean slang for “delicious.” And although Jin doesn’t like cream, he tried the peach lemon cream cake. The two agreed that the food tasted good and moved on with the rest of the live broadcast.
While at first, it seemed a harmless mukbang, it became problematic when the cafe decided to share Instagram stories about its baked goods being featured on the live broadcast. While sharing a screenshot of the live, quoting RM calling the ham sandwich “JMT,” the cafe included a caption that said, “LOLOLOL THE BANGTAN COIN.”
In Korea, the English word “coin”—especially when used in combination with another word in front of it—has come to mean “hitting the jackpot.”
Over time, however, the phrase “riding the (person/thing) coin” has been deemed generally negative—more to do with chasing clout and trying to milk any fame and money out of the associated word.
That being said, when Plate D’s Instagram story used the phrase “BTS COIN”—presumably to celebrate how the cafe’s name and the menu had been promoted on a huge platform—it upset the Korean ARMYs aware of the connotation.
As the online criticism grew, Plate D issued an apology explaining that the cafe “didn’t know about the negativity around the word/phrase.”
Hello, this is Plate D. We apologize for the delay in getting this apology out to you. We want to clarify why we shared the Instagram story that says, ‘Bangtan Coin.’ We assure you that we did not mean to disrespect anyone in any way.
We loved that BTS members liked the sandwiches and cakes from Plate D. We did not know that the word ‘coin’ is being used negatively. We honestly did not expect to offend ARMYs with this phrase.
We’re also huge fans of BTS and we love them. We wouldn’t have used the word if we knew it would be disrespectful toward them. We should have known that it would be upsetting to ARMYs to hear us talk about BTS like that though. And we’re at fault for that, we’re truly sorry.
We’ll try to do better going forward. We apologize once again.
— Plate D
Unfortunately, the apology only fueled the controversy. Some ARMYs grew suspicious of the cafe “having inside connections” at HYBE. Pointing out how Plate D has previously been featured on a different BTS live broadcast, ARMYs questioned if someone on the team of BTS’s staff is letting the cafe get free promotion.
Soon, the agency came under fire for having neither care nor control over how some staff seems to be allegedly mistreating BTS.
- “This shows what the employees think about BTS. I feel like only the worst of the worst are left at HYBE now.”
- “God damn it, BIG HIT, for f*ck’s sake… This is not the first time. Can you please get your employees under control?!”
- “At least the cafe apologized… Where’s the employee [who allegedly helped the cafe land the free promo and] who referred to BTS as coins? I’m so pissed.”
Shortly after the initial apology, Plate D uploaded another apology to clarify that it has absolutely no connections with HYBE. In addition, the cafe apologized again for being thoughtless and for disrespecting BTS.
…We apologize for using the word thoughtlessly because we got too excited about the situation. We’re sincerely sorry. Thank you, ARMYs, for letting us know about the problem and helping us realize what we had done wrong…
…One more thing about the growing suspicion about us trying to get free promotion through a connection within the agency—and this is the truth. No one at Plate D knows anyone at HYBE. We have no connections there whatsoever. We did not ask to sponsor the foods and we did not ask for free promotion…
— Plate D
The agency is yet to respond to the controversy.