Jimmy Kimmel Under Fire For Comparing “BTS Fever” To COVID-19

He made the joke while interviewing actress Ashley Park.

A joke that comedian and TV host Jimmy Kimmel made during actress Ashley Park‘s appearance on his talk show, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, has sparked criticism from BTS‘s ARMY and others.

Jimmy Kimmel | Jerod Harris/Comedy Central

Ashley Park recently appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live! to talk about her role in Netflix‘s Emily in Paris.

Ashley Park | @ashleyparklady/Instagram

She also talked about BTS RM and V‘s reaction to her performance of “Dynamite” on the show.

| Jimmy Kimmel Live/YouTube

Both V and RM posted snippets of Ashley Park’s “Dynamite” cover on their personal Instagrams. On her own Instagram story, she expressed how grateful she was that the BTS members had seen her cover and shared her performance.

| @ashleyparklady/Instagram

Truly speechless that members of BTS have shared the @emilyinparis ‘Dynamite’ performance. Truly means so much to me, I have such respect for @bts.bighitofficial for all they do as artists and especially as Koreans on a global scale… so singing their song was gift enough. Taehyung and Namjoon, I’m so happy you enjoyed this cover as much as I love your music and getting to sing it! Fighting! Next time, come to Paris and hopefully, we can sing together💜🇰🇷🎶

— Ashley Park

On his talk show, Jimmy Kimmel mentioned that Ashley Park sang “Dynamite” on Emily in Paris.

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 BTS 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 (BTS) come on. They are absolutely crazed for these guys.

— Jimmy Kimmel

When Ashley Park said “ARMY” in reference to BTS’s fans, Jimmy Kimmel continued, “Yeah, you have to be careful with an army because they can attack.”

When Ashley Park said she was an ARMY, Jimmy Kimmel said, “Okay, then you won’t get attacked.”

Then, Ashley Park revealed that she didn’t even realize “how much of an ARMY” she was until she performed “Dynamite” on Emily in Paris.

She continued, “We knew we were going to sing a song for the first episode, and I think I just threw out there, ‘Oh my gosh, maybe they’ll let me cover a song by my favorite band BTS this season, I don’t know.’ I just threw it out there.”

She wasn’t sure that she would be able to sing a BTS song because she suggested it a couple of days before the scene was set to be filmed. Within a few days, however, the showrunners were able to secure the rights to perform “Dynamite,” and Ashley Park’s dream of performing a BTS song on Emily in Paris came true.

Ashley Park was nervous and excited about the performance. She told Lily Collins, the star of Emily in Paris, “If BTS were ever to see this in an alternate universe, I would just want to make them as proud as they have made me as a Korean and as an artist.” 

Ashley then explained that all 7 BTS members had opened their own personal Instagram accounts about a week before her “Dynamite” performance was released, which was very exciting for her as a fan. Jimmy Kimmel joked, “Yeah, like Donald Trump‘s not even allowed to have that.”

Ashley Park then told Jimmy Kimmel that RM posted a clip of her performance to his Instagram story. She also told him that V posted a clip of the performance on his Instagram feed. As she told the story, Ashley Park looked genuinely excited, and she visibly tried to calm herself down.

Ashley Park said she was getting a manicure when she found out that V posted the video, and her hands were shaking so much that it was a “miracle” that she was able to finish her manicure. Jimmy Kimmel joked, “I can see you’re actually getting crazy about it right now.”

Then, the actress said she “couldn’t think, couldn’t talk, and couldn’t get up” for the rest of the day. She felt as if she were going into shock, and she thought it was just an intense reaction to RM and V not only seeing her performance but also sharing it with their followers.

As it turned out, the symptoms Ashley Park was experiencing were actually due to her having the Omicron variant of COVID-19, and they weren’t just symptoms of intense shock.

She explained that she would’ve never guessed that she had COVID because she thought her body was just going into meltdown because BTS noticed her. Jimmy Kimmel said, “You thought it was BTS fever.” Ashley Park agreed and said yes.

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

While Jimmy Kimmel made comical jabs about ARMY throughout the interview, he has come under fire for his last joke about “BTS fever” in particular. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Asian people have been blamed for the spread of COVID-19, and many people found his joke comparing the coronavirus to fangirling over BTS extremely racist. People were especially appalled that he made the joke in front of a Korean-American woman who was actively expressing her love for BTS and who was open about how proud she is of them as a fellow Korean.  People called him out in the comment section of the interview on YouTube.

Similar criticisms were also mirrored by fans on Twitter as they called him out for the inappropriate comparison.

You can see the full interview below.