‘BTS Paved the Way;’ K-Pop Fandom Runs through NAHS

Christinna Longenecker, Staff Writer

K-pop (Korean pop music)  has been taking the world by storm in the recent years, groups having scheduled numerous concerts in the U.S.A and simultaneously selling out entire stadiums in the process. While this international standpoint can’t be pinned on one particular girl or guy group, it’s been made quite clear that BTS (Bang-tan Son-yeon-dan) paved the way for the Korean music industry and allowed a much larger international fanbase to take a heavy interest in not only the music, but the culture as well.

BTS (방탄소년단 or ‘Bulletproof Boy Scouts’) is a South Korean boy band that debuted under entertainment industry ‘BigHit’ in 2013. The group consists of seven members, three of which are in ‘rap-line’ and four that hold their place in the ‘vocal-line’ of the group. Their ages range from 21 to 26 years old and their overall net worth is nearly $60,000,000, which places each member at roughly $8,571,428.57 (This number is simply by math).

BTS have released 12 main albums spanned out across the 6 years that they’ve been together, and have overall sold over 10,000,000 physical copies as a result. K-pop albums are quite a bit different than traditional American albums in terms of their structure and their contents. K-pop albums typically consist of a photobook that holds exclusive photos of the group members from specific photoshoots that were taken. The albums sometimes also contain stickers, posters, or other little goods, but one thing that fans go crazy over are the photocards.

Each album comes with a photocard with a picture of one of the members on it. There are usually different versions of each album that have different photo books and photocards as a whole, which makes them very collectible. One thing that they can be held to bar with would be Pokemon cards in the sense that collectors tend to sell and trade the cards in order to obtain the entire set.

“I had the money, and I really connected with them… so I decided to start collecting them, i want to keep the things that are close to me.” stated Gabby Garcia, a freshman at the high, “…if you listen to the albums there’s always something different.”. BTS is the type of groups that consist of multiple musical styles. For instance, ‘Dionysius,’ on their new album ‘Map of the Soul: Persona,’ is a song more closely related to hip hop, or rap, while their title track would appear more upbeat and pop-like.

Millions of fans across the world stan (it’s a fandom’s way of saving ‘favor’ and is used more commonly within Twitter and amongst BTS fans) BTS as their favorite boy band, and most agree that BTS in fact did pave the way. Though there are plenty of other large groups that made their debut before the band, groups such as Big Bang, that have also made a very large international impact, it’s become clear that BTS is different, having won awards that no other Korean group has internationally, and most recently having performed at the Wembley Stadium and being compared to The Beatles.

Fans of BTS from all over the world communicate mainly through Twitter via ‘Stan Accounts’. On Twitter, BTS also take the opportunity to interact with fans occasionally through their account that is managed by BigHit. The group posts pictures and videos of themselves as well as their concerts and various other messages for their supporters.

“It’s cool to see what people have to say about them, I guess. Stan twitter is crazy, especially BTS stan Twitter.” Jon’nette Kidd, a writer for the Wingspan admitted in regards to the funny shenanigans that are carried out on the group’s behalf, “No lie, BTS paved the way. I used to just listen to girl groups and really liked EXO’s music, but BTS stole me. Stan Namjoon.” Kidd explained that the appeal of BTS’s music as well as the different unique aspects of each member’s personality is what captivated her. “I love all seven of them, they’re all really talented and nearly every member has released a mixtape or their own original song and they’ve all been great.”

Overall, though, despite the appeal of the handsome young men, and the catchy songs and dances, many fans also have a strong connection to the lyrics. The interesting thing in terms of kpop is that many international fans don’t actually speak Korean, so they rely pretty heavily on translations. If fans are still touched so deeply by lyrics that are in a completely different language, then that must say something about the people writing them.

“I like that their lyrics are really deep and inspirational,” said Selena Escobedo, “They constantly tell you to love yourself. I guess it’s more meaningful coming from them because of everything they’ve been through and where they are now.”. In this case, Selena touched on the different types of struggles they went through as a group, dealing with incredible amounts of hate, and the harsh training conditions. K-pop is known for its crazy training and diet regimes.Members having passed out backstage and in their dorms numerous times do to lack of nutrition, but now, as BTS has stated in a number of interviews, they’re better, and becoming who they want to be with the help of ARMY- their fans.

“I like their lyrics and songs mostly because of the passion that’s actually behind what they’re saying.” added Rachel Phan.

On top of all of that, members have donated to plenty of organizations. For instance, on Suga’s birthday, he donated 100 million won to Korea’s Pediatric Cancer Foundation, and Jimin donated a generous amount of money to his old elementary school in Busan in order to help the students’ education.

There were numerous instances where members have actually given back to fans as well, Suga having sent out a ton of individual thank you gifts to fans on his birthday.

When it comes to BTS, it’s not just the fame, or the fact that they’re attractive young men who work hard, it’s the message that they strive to convey through their music. The entire group went through a lot during their training, this is something they’ve admitted in numerous interviews and even provided in some of their songs. Despite this, they continue to work hard and inspire their fans to be the best them and to… well, love themselves. This message has appeared to resonate within listeners, and with that, BTS paved the way.