[Article] 170603 [Hong Seokkyung's Hallyu exploration] BTS's soar



Hip hop idol group BTS literally put on a set of wings like the title of the album "WINGS" released last year. More than a million copies of this album were sold all around the world and the group received 300 million votes, that is 75% of the total votes and won the Top Social Artist award at the Billboard Music Awards. They did not promote in the US or have any viral video like "Gangnam Style". This is an achievement they accomplished only by interacting with their fans and the power of their music. 

BTS sang in Korean and they don't have a single English song that targets the US market. However, they are receiving compliments like "You don't need to understand the language to feel the passion of the new rising artist", "They boldly approach the culture of the younger generation", "They don't leave out the fans who don't speak Korean".  They succeeded with their musicality together with interaction.

Even without the prestige of the foreign music awards, BTS was a group that stimulated my curiosity since their debut days. They were an idol group who are produced for the industry yet they said they are a hip hop group which requires sincerity as their foundation. This seemed like a contradiction, furthermore "Bangtan" (Bulletproof) that reminds us of military culture which has nothing to do with creativity and "Boy Scouts" that reminds us of boy scouts or "Hitler Youth" in the worst case. To make things worse their fandom name is "ARMY".



The contradiction list kept growing the more I watched their stages and music videos. They enjoyed wearing the uniform but they sweep the stage with the energy that's enough to mess their brightly colored hair and tear away their outfits. They have the classic visuals of idol but all members participate in composing, lyric and rap writing to create their music. They perform high-level intense group choreography at the concert venue with fire as the special effect but some of the members were able to reach this level of dancing only by practicing and making effort without the talents of dancers. Moreover, the songs written by BTS is different compared to the consistent love songs by KPOP groups or the current hip hop groups who sing about having a rich lifestyle, party, love, and break up. BTS enthusiastically captures the frustration, anger, and social perception in their songs. This is why foreign critics acclaim that we finally have a conscious KPOP group. 

When democratic songs of 1980s and 90s played during the end of 2016 as the citizens held candle lights at the Gwanghwamun square as they yearn for democracy, the youths around the world repeatedly watched the music video of BTS "Not Today" on Youtube, which tells the viewers to not submit themselves to neoliberalism. BTS is opening the first door that's beyond the chance and frontier of Hallyu.

Hong Seokkyung,  Professor of Communication Studies, Seoul National University

Original article here


Responses
I like the article (62) This is heartwarming (0) This makes me sad (0) I'm angry (0) I want the next part of this article (2)

1. Professor, thank you for this wonderful article. I think you really expressed the true value of our BTS well. +44 -0

2. My younger sibling is a fan of BTS and I thought s/he would stop liking them at some point but after watching their stage and listening to their song, I understand why s/he likes them +42 -0

3. wow BTS is cool... +35 -0

4. I support BTS's powerful soar ♡ My heart felt so proud of them the entire time I read the article ♡ I'll always be with BTS ♡♡♡ +33 -0

5.  Thank you for the nice article ♡ +29 -0

6. They didn't start off like idols from big companies who receive support from their senior groups from their own company or have their articles featured on the main page of entertainment news ranking on portal sites or get themselves known to the public by easily appearing on famous variety shows... they didn't start 50m front like those idols in a 100m race. They steadily began at the starting point, stumbled, receiving judging eyes from many due to petty, ridiculous misunderstandings...but they didn't blame on others and continued with good genuine music... they reached here today after 15 hours of dance practice every day... You will understand why BTS gives strength to even people in other countries to live their lives every day when you learn about BTS ^^ +18 -0

6. Thank you for the in-depth analyze article about BTS~ When I read recent articles or columns about BTS, most of the journalists who don't know about BTS write their articles using facts you can find by searching them online or saying that they became famous thanks to the popularity of KPOP... this article written made me realize that professor has analyzed this after watching BTS's stage, music videos and other foreign articles~thank you again for the nice article~ ^^ +12 -0

7. I joined the fandom after watching a couple of their choreography videos.. I think there is a reason why people like them!! +11 -0

8. I love this kind of article ㅋ +9 -0

9. wow this is such a cool article  ^-^/ I can imagine the tone you'd be using to explain about them.. +8 -0



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