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ATEEZ: K-pop band racially harassed by man in Saudi airport

Man arrested after filming boy band and hurling racial abuse and profanities at the singers
ATEEZ performs in Inglewood, California on 30 January 2022 (AFP)
ATEEZ performs in Inglewood, California on 30 January 2022 (AFP)

A TikTok video of a man hurling racial abuse and profanities at the Korean pop group ATEEZ upon their arrival in Saudi Arabia has sparked outrage online, and led to the man's arrest.

The eight-member boy band arrived in the kingdom on 30 September to perform at the KCON festival held in Riyadh.

The K-pop group was greeted at Riyadh airport by a crowd of fans, screaming and filming the singers with their phones. 

In one video, a man follows ATEEZ intently with his camera while parodying an Asian language before repeatedly hurling profanities at the group.

The man posted the footage to his TikTok account after capturing the scene, captioned with an Arabic hashtag: “The Chinese people have no solution.”

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The video, which has now been deleted from the man’s account, quickly spread across social media with fans of ATEEZ, known as “atinys”, coming to the group’s defence, calling on people to report the video.

Translation: Is this for real? Does he not feel empathy? And on top of it all, he says ‘fuck you’, thinking they don't understand

Others were angered that security at the airport did not intervene during the incident.

The man who recorded and posted the video was arrested after the video caught the attention of the Saudi authorities. His identity was not made public at the time of publication.

“The arrested citizen appeared in a video clip on social media, calling the band with phrases that would prejudice public morals during the arrival of a specialised band at the airport to participate in an event in Riyadh,” the police statement said.

The police also added that legal measures have been taken against the man, who was referred to the public prosecution.

Saudi Arabia’s KCON was held over two days, ending on 1 October, and featured several popular Korean artists. The festival also hosted an exhibition on Korean culture. In 2016, the festival was hosted in Abu Dhabi.

ATEEZ debuted in 2018 and have since sold over four million physical albums worldwide. The group has also served as official global ambassadors for Korean culture and tourism.

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