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10 Things to know about: BTS

When BTS took home their first win on SBS MTV’s The Show, a Korean music chart show back in 2015, nobody expected the hip-hop idol group to chart #1 on Billboard and numerous other global music charts a mere three years later.

Without context, their fans’, or ARMY’s, endless love and support for the seven-piece can seem quite extreme or cult-like. But if they can make the unrelenting mainstream Western pop audience fall head over heels for them, even without a single song that is fully in English, learning more about who they really are might just make you fall for them too.

Here are 10 things you need to know about the Korean boy band phenomenon:

1. Who The Members Of BTS Are

BTS is made of seven members who namely are RM (Kim Namjoon), Jin (Kim Seokjin), Suga (Min Yoongi), J-hope (Jung Hoseok), Jimin (Park Jimin), V (Kim Taehyung) and Jungkook (Jeon Jungkook). RM, who is fluent in Korean, Japanese and English, is the leader and designated spokesperson of the group. In terms of roles, RM, Suga and J-hope are the rappers, while Jin, Jimin, V and Jungkook are the vocalists. On stage, J-hope, Jimin and Jungkook are nicknamed the “dance-line”, while Jin and V often leave especially lasting impressions on the red carpet.

2. What BTS Stands For

“BTS” is the acronym for “bangtan-sonyeondan”, which roughly translates to “bulletproof boy-scouts”. J-hope explains that the group aims to be the resistance against the bullets of prejudice that target their generation, striving hard to protect the values that they hold with pride. In July last year, the group extended the meaning of the acronym to also include an English version, “Beyond The Scene”. Perhaps this is a sign of their readiness for global domination, but they have already started to do so a long time ago.

3. What A.R.M.Y. (아미) Stands For

The band’s fiercely loyal fans are probably as famous as BTS themselves. Coined by BTS themselves, the acronym stands for “Adorable Representative M.C. for Youth”. The meaning of a military army is also implied here, tying in with the concept of BTS as a bulletproof armor. Put together, the boys hope for their fans to be able fight and stand up for themselves together, with BTS always protecting them in their pursuit.

4. They Come From The Label Big Hit Entertainment

While the more successful idols are typically from one of the “big 3” entertainment companies, namely SM, YG and JYP Entertainment. BTS comes from the smaller Big Hit Entertainment, founded by producer and songwriter Bang Sihyuk (or “Bang PD” to ARMY and the band).

5. They Started Out As a Hip-Hop Idol Group

The band debuted in 2013 with a ’90s gangster rap hip-hop image, then something very new and niche for the mainstream Korean entertainment industry. The first members were mostly recruited from Korea’s underground hip-hop scene prior to BTS, and so it seemed apt to leverage on this to produce a new one-of-a-kind idol group. Their songs now span a wide variety of genres, from, pop, ballads, and R&B to jazz, house and electronic dance.

6. They Write Their Own Songs

Though they are not the first idol-singers to participate in songwriting, they are one of the only groups to have been doing so even before the debut. Their songs touch on both themes of relationships, as well as social issues like bullying, depression, and recently, self-love. Fans hence enjoy tunes that are not only catchy, but also hold depth and give them something to think about.

7. What The Members Were Doing Before BTS

RM and Suga were both underground rappers. J-hope was a well-known street dancer back in his hometown. Jin was talent-spotted while out on the streets as a university student, while V had only gone for the company audition by chance because he was accompanying a friend. Jimin was training to become a contemporary dancer in an arts high school, while Jungkook actually appeared on local idol-sourcing cable programme, Superstar-K, before choosing Big Hit (over numerous others) because of RM.

8. How They Earned The Award For Top Social Artist

A big part of why people are so in love with BTS is because they are not afraid to show fans how real and human they are. Regular uploads of a behind-the-scenes footage in the form of heartfelt messages, candid photos and funny videos, not only lets fans into the members’ daily lives, but also shows how endearing BTS is with each other, and how they are like as people. This brings fans close to the boys, allowing the band to be seen more as a friend then a distant fantasy. Twitter, YouTube, SoundCloud, and VLIVE* are the main social media platforms where they have a large presence.

9. They Have a UNICEF Campaign Titled “Love Myself”

BTS launched an anti-violence campaign with UNICEF in 2017. BTS was also chosen as one of the guests to speak at the United Nations 73rd General Assembly in late September 2017, discussing this campaign in a profound speech delivered by leader RM. Since its inception, 1.6 billion won (approximately $1.4 million) has been raised.

10. They Are The Youngest Recipients of The Order of Cultural Merit

Most recently, BTS became the youngest awardees of South Korea’s Hwagwan Orders of Cultural Merit. Usually only awarded to veteran artists, BTS were honored for helping with the rapid spread of South Korean culture and language throughout the world.

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