[ 방탄소년단… Bangtan SonyeonDan, also known as Bulletproof Boy Scouts, Bangtan Boys, and BTS for short]
REMEMBER if you watch the YouTube videos to change your settings to display English subtitles!
Read more about BTS on my Hallyu Wave of K-Pop page.
While you may look at this as a fan-based article, look again – the masterminds behind the business development function are truly genius. Entertainment groups may diversify into make-up and fashion, but how many venture out to extend their brand the way BTS has? Simply brilliant!
Here’s my list of the 7 Reasons BTS has become a global phenomenon:
- They became family: The seven members in the band have grown up together and have endured all sorts of training and torment, journeys and jeers, love and laughter, hardships and haters. Formed in 2012, the group debuted on June 13, 2013. For a decade, the seven grew up together, living in a small dorm room together 24/7, focusing on writing music, singing, dancing, and performing. The youngest member, Jungkook, was 12 when he moved into the dorm, and the oldest member, Jin, was 17. They became family and are openly affectionate, hugging each other, piggybacking one another, flopping on top of each other when they play around, and sleeping curled up together when they can catch a catnap during their hectic schedule. The true beauty of the boys’ relationships is in their devotion to one another which is one reason why their music is so genuine. Besides having striking visuals and smiles that could light a football stadium, they are known throughout the world for being humble and exceptionally polite – even waiting in line to greet and congratulate their fellow Korean actors for their Parasite Oscar win while the group was in the U.S. at the same time. Watch their much-anticipated appearance on Carpool Karaoke on James Corden in February 2020 which surpassed 20 million views in less than a week. I dare you not to join in singing:
On a sidenote, in Korean culture, boys treat one another like brothers and refer to themselves as “hyungs” (형) which technically means “older brother. Because of the culture’s hierarchy by age, the younger members may call older members “hyung-nim” as a sign of respect. The “nim” may be dropped in more casual conversations, but hierarchy still exists and can be challenged at a glance.
- They share an important message of love: Meaningful lyrics, incredible choreography, and a great music bed make their videos so popular. One of the hardest working groups in the entertainment industry, these guys are always on the go. That translates into some great performances. Their theme message of Love Yourself promotes a positive self-image and encourages people to love themselves (Sidenote: South Korea has an extremely high suicide rate, so this message is very important to their culture). But the significance of this band goes well beyond just song and dance. They live their values of helping one another, loving each other, and making a difference in the world. In 2019, they spoke before the The United Nations to discuss UNICEF’S End Violence program. Leader RM did an amazing job speaking to the world about the struggles youths of today suffer.
- They absolutely love their fan base, ARMY, who gives them strength: If you ever wondered how much Bangtan love ARMY, you simply need to listen to the boys speak. At every awards ceremony, they thank ARMY – even if they win 5 times in that one evening, they thank ARMY each time (Sidenote: outside of the U.S., they pluralize ARMYs). They write love songs to ARMY, most recently in their MOTS: 7 album, they have a beautiful ballad for ARMY called We Are Bulletproof: The Eternal where they express they are never alone with ARMY by their side: “We were only seven, but we have you all now.” During their January 2020 appearance on James Corden when asked about their fans, Kim Taehyung (stagename “V”) prepared a special message in English for ARMYs (starting at the 3:07 mark):
- They are Genuine and Selfless. They donate. Active on social media, BTS members encourage their fans to change the world. Whether it’s by asking them to donate in support of the 2020 wildfires in Australia, pray for typhoon victims in the Philippines, donate to the Food Bank, or show their support for mental health, education, animal welfare organizations close to the boys’ hearts, they encourage ARMY to donate. ARMY will automatically begin campaigns to donate on behalf of the group and the members during their birthdays, which starts a swell of giving. Their posts have been known to “break Twitter” during the boys’ birthdays. BTS are often donating to world relief causes, and most recently during the Coronavirus pandemic, Min Yoon Gi (stagename “Suga”) made a large donation to the efforts to relieve the suffering in his hometown of Daegu. When their much anticipated 2020 World Concert shows were indefinitely postponed due to the Coronavirus, ARMY encouraged fans to donate their refunded tickets to the relief effort. Knowing the worldwide clout the boys have, the WHO chief urged BTS to join the hand washing challenge to promote safe hand hygiene and reduce the spread of COVID-19. The boys took to social media to remind people how to stay distant but stay connected:
- V Live – Korea’s premium social media channel where BTS fans can chat with their idols breaks down the walls by personalizing their experiences with ARMY. BTS has their own channel where they have their own show Run BTS – a thirty-ish minute variety, talk, whatever web show.
- BTS Connect – Through this global project, artists who share similar visions as BTS collaborate and curate expressions of music and art. One of the biggest trending videos in early 2020 is a performance by MN Dance Company of BTS’s song Black Swan. In hours, the views on this video broke records! They do this because of the struggle the group had in the early days, and they want to help others.
- BTS World – ok – they have their own video game where YOU, the player, can manage their lives! How cool is that! BTS World is a visual novel-styled mobile video game developed by Takeone Company Corp and published by Netmarble. Players take the role of BTS’ manager, going through various journeys with each of the seven members from 2012, prior to their debut, to 2019. Most of the story relies on clicking through interactions between the user and game characters. The game is based on conversations and choices that impact the later chapters. The player can also style the characters and play a card game to achieve a specific score. The game uses real photos and voice recordings of the BTS members. Its official website has galleries of photos and videos of the members as the game characters.
These boys are on FIRE! The only thing holding them back is the same thing holding everyone else back – COVID-19. When the world is a safe place again, BTS will be unleashed onto their World Tour, and you will discover how much fun it is to sing and dance to their music.
If you want to discover another world of fantasies, old history, new cultures, dramas, comedy, and other entertaining videos, read my post on Top 10 K-Drama to Watch for Newcomers.