The world-wide phenomenon, boy band BTS have made history many times throughout 2018,especially in the last few months. Starting off the second half of 2018, they have broken records, like being the first Korean act to reach #1 on the Billboard Top 200, and selling out concerts during their Love Yourself: Tear World Tour and much more.
A look deeper into their outburst popularity, their fans also known as ARMY, an acronym for “Adorable Representative M.C for Youth,” have contributed to much of their success.
“[Our] fans gave us the wings that allowed us to be where we are and fly to where we are today,” said BTS member V in their Grammy Interview. “We are always thankful and we know that [our existence] here [is] to thank our fans.”
BTS and ARMY hold a very close relationship, and through their music, fans globally appreciate the messages expressed in lyrics. The boys and ARMY never fail to exchange their thanks for accomplishments and inspirations.
“Listening to them gives me strength in times when I’m hurting or [in need of] a boost because a lot of the issues they talk about [are issues] I have gone through, so it is inspiring.” said BTS fan Alina Baquar ’19. “Their recent album [Love Yourself: Answer is] about loving yourself and because they came from such a small company, it goes to show that if you work hard at something you love, you can definitely achieve it, which goes for me and my future career.”
The socially aware group has always used their own stories to speak out for this generation’s youth, under the guidance of their CEO and organizer, Mr. Bang Si Hyuk. They cover topics varying from following one’s dream, mental illness, women’s rights, and their most well known message, loving yourself.
“When we had the conversation with Mr. Bang when we first started out, he always emphasized that we should sing about our own experiences, our own thoughts, our own feelings,” said BTS member Suga in their Grammy interview. “So that has been the center of the music that we make. [When we started, we were young], and so we talked about issues that we faced, and I think that really made BTS what BTS is today.”
Not only has BTS made impact in the music industry, but BTS teamed up with UNICEF Korea and launched a Love Myself campaign on Nov. 1, 2017 to end violence. In a span of exactly one year, BTS and ARMY raised $1.4 million USD. On Sept. 24th, BTS was invited to the United Nations to speak as ambassadors of this project, marking another day history as being the first K-pop act to speak at the UN.
“I want to hear your voice,” said BTS member RM, in his speech at the UN. “I want to hear your conviction. No matter where you’re from, skin color, gender identity, just speak yourself.”
Through the guys’ hard work and efforts of making music to share their stories and experiences, on Oct. 24, BTS was awarded South Korea’s Hwagwan Order of Cultural Merit (문화훈장). According to the Korea Times, this award is given by the President of South Korea for “outstanding meritorious services in the fields of culture and art in the interest of promoting the national culture and national development.” BTS was also marked to be the youngest recipients of this award yet, in their acceptance speech, the boys mention their gratefulness to ARMY.
“I’m happy that it seems that we’re really becoming the hope of popular culture.” said BTS member J-Hope in his acceptance speech according to Soompi.com. “The Hwagwan Order of Cultural Merit is such an immense award. It’s an award that carries weight and includes the hard work of many staff members, BTS’s blood and sweat, and the cheers of ARMY all over the world”