BTS, or otherwise known as Bangtan Sonyeondan in their native language, is an explosive Korean boy band full of fresh-faced members who have recently taken the world by storm. Their music encompasses a wide variety of genres, including pop, R&B, and hip-hop, that, when combined with their energetic and complex choreographies, produces the exhilarating performances the group is known for. Besides achieving explosive popularity in the US in just the past few months, with trending YouTube videos and swarms of media attention (including being featured on Time magazine’s cover, performing at the American Music Awards, and attending talk shows like Ellen) they are already seasoned international celebrities who have toured extensively in Asia, Europe, and Latin America. In addition, their album Love Yourself: Tear is the first album of the K-pop genre to rank No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart. On top of that, the boys have managed to win (with the help of their fans, the ARMY) the fan-voted Top Social Artist in the Billboard Music Awards for two years in a row, beating artists like Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande. And it’s no wonder they’re so popular; all seven of the members—RM (24 years old), Jin (25), J-Hope (24), V (22), Jungkook (21), Jimin (23), and Suga (25)—have worked extremely hard to get to where they are today.
Each member came from humble backgrounds, and the boys are much more than mere products of the Korean pop industry, as critics like to call them. For example, the group’s leader, RM, has revealed that he learned English all by himself just by watching the TV show Friends. However, that is not surprising once you learn that he has a staggering IQ of 148. He also started as an underground rapper prior to becoming a part of BTS, with over 100 songs to his name. Another band member, Suga, has a similar background. He decided to pursue music as a teenager—against his parents’ wishes—and became an underground rapper as well. During those years in which he struggled to make a career for himself, Suga has talked about how he was frequently scammed by people who took his music without paying for it. He was so poor that he even had to skip meals, which consisted of $2 bowls of ramen, in order to save money for the bus home. Perhaps it is because of the immense amount of hardships Suga has personally experienced that his music is often deep and reflective of his struggles, such as depression. The third member, whose stage name is V, is actually the son of poor farmers from Daegu. J-Hope, the happy-go-lucky persona of the group, began as a street dancer. Jungkook, the youngest member of BTS, joined the band at the youthful age of 15, while Jimin, the band member known most for his kind and caring nature, studied as the top student at a contemporary dancing school in Busan. And finally, Jin, whose backstory is actually quite funny, only became a member of BTS after being scouted getting off a bus.
However, one thing is common among all the members, and that is their awareness of the responsibility placed on them as influential people who can truly make a difference in the world, and their determination to fulfill that role to the best of their ability. Their motto “love yourself” is reflected in both the title of their newest album, as well as the speech that the leader RM presented to the United Nations on September 24, 2018, that highlighted the importance of self-love: “Find your name and find your voice by speaking yourself.”