A.R.M.Y. Member: My Love of BTS runs DEEP
I am a member of ARMY. There I said it. I finally revealed my secret to the world. I know I’m too damn old to be obsessing over a Korean boy band, but things happen. BTS has taken the world by storm and with impending enlistment, their meteoric rise to fame may come to a sudden halt. At the moment, I don’t want to think about this imminent doom and dread. I’d rather bask in the glory that is BTS and everything that has to do with them.
BTS aka Bangtan Sonyeodan (Bulletproof Boy Scouts) aka Behind The Scene were formed in 2013 by BigHit. The group of 7 consists of the Hyung (older) Line - RM (leader, rapper), Jin (visuals, vocalist), Suga (rapper), J-Hope (head dancer, rapper) and the Maknae (younger) Line -Jimin (dancer, vocalist), V (visuals, vocalist), Jungkook (lead vocalist). BigHit is a relatively small record label.
From the beginning, BTS was at a disadvantage since they didn’t have the money, resources, and power supporting them like the big 3 companies (SM, YG, JYP) could provide. They debuted as a hip-hop group focusing on the 3 rappers, but they didn’t make the splash they hoped for and almost disbanded due to their company not being able to afford everything it takes to make a Korean boy band successful. Despite their financial struggles, BTS busted their butts off and started to develop a following. Those dedicated fans would become ARMY (Adorable Representative MC for Youth) and fast forward to 2019; BTS is one of the most successful Korean pop groups in the world. They’ve won many awards including the most talked about American Billboard Award and Korean Music Award in which they won the coveted “Musician of the Year” award. Winning “Musician of the Year” made them the first Korean pop group to ever receive the award. They have even been nominated for and attended the Grammys.
They sell out stadiums within 10-15 min. I’ve tried 3 times to get concert tickets, but I’ve failed to no avail. 9 years ago (this includes the group’s time as trainees before their debut) the members wouldn't have imagined they would become this big and to this day they still are surprised by their success.
What makes them so captivating? I don’t even understand it myself. THEY’RE FREAKING GORGEOUS. That’s something that can’t be denied. I’ll admit, I do enjoy looking at them just for that fact alone. They know how to put on a good show. Each performance is high energy. The choreography is intense and is known in the Korean music industry as some of the most difficult routines. Every comeback has been different and ARMY is fortunate to see various sides of the group. I think what makes them so appealing is that they’re in constant contact with their fans. They have a shared Twitter page that all of the member post on. There’s the FanCafe available to Korean and Japanese fans (sad face) that they frequently come on to chat and interact with fans. Jungkook and Jimin are ALWAYS on there talking to fans. There’s also the high media content put out. As a member of ARMY, I will admit to consuming massive amounts of media content from either what the group put out or the content created by other members of ARMY. I subscribe to Vlive, a Korean video streaming service that allows Korean celebrities to broadcast live video and live chat with fans. Luckily for us international fans, they do provide translations in various languages for the live video playbacks and programming.
BTS has a weekly show called Run BTS (see below) that I watch faithfully and if you’re willing to pay for a subscription (which I do), you get access to the BTS plus channel which gives you the behind the scenes stuff from Run BTS. Run BTS is a variety show. The group usually participate in some event or game in which they compete against each other. There’s also concerts and shows you can purchase separately. I bought all 3 seasons of Bon Voyage. Bon Voyage is a show in which the group travels abroad (Northern Europe, Hawaii, Malta) and pretty much be tourists. The entertainment content the group puts on Vlive showcases them having fun, enjoying the time they have together, and most importantly being regular guys. As a bonus, the group members are always creating live broadcasts, especially Jimin, RM, Jin,, V, and Jungkook. The live chat is also a place you can bump into members. Once again Jungkook and Jimin are notorious for being in the chats. If you can’t get enough of BTS on Vlive, there’s always Youtube. There are so many channels that provide videos and clips of all sorts of shenanigans, performances, and other content for us to consume. I can spend hours watching BTS videos on Youtube and I usually do...EVERY SINGLE DAY.
Last but not least, who can forget the merchandise. Yes I’ll admit, I preordered 4 BTS Funko Pop figures and yes I also preordered the LOVE YOURSELF tour dvd as well as their new album due out now. There’s so much available merchandise, you will definitely find yourself quickly broke. BTS personally created 7 characters for Line Friends collectively called BT21. They have stores in NYC, LA, Seoul, and Tokyo. These stores have everything in them including pillows, clothes, and stuffed characters. Converse and Puma have designed sneakers for BT21 and BTS respectively. These too are also available for purchase. Currently, I own a stuffed Shooky (Suga’s cookie creation), a Kooky (Jungkook’s tough bunny) pillow, and a Chimmy (Jimin’s cute puppy) sleep mask, My next purchase? A stuffed Tata because I have to rep my bias (favorite member). Mattel just released a line of BTS dolls in their Idol outfits. I was more than prepared to drop $140 for the set, they’re $20 a piece, but they left something to be desired. However, deep down inside, I know I MIGHT just buy 2.
While BTS is at the height of their fame, enlistment is looming, In South Korea, men between the ages of 18 and 28 are required to participate in compulsory military service for 2 years. It is quite possible that the 2 oldest members, Jin (26, he’ll be 27 this yr) and Suga (26), could be called to serve as soon as 2020. Many members of ARMY are wondering what BigHit will do. The company has already debuted a new group this year. It is possible they could create sub groups like many K-pop groups typically do during enlistment. There will also probably be solo works as well. BTS is gearing up for their next tour LOVE YOURSELF:SPEAK YOURSELF. Many speculate this could be their last tour before enlistment. Who really knows? For now let’s just enjoy the BTS ride and hope for many more entertaining years.