If you’ve made it to part four of this series, first I want to say thank you so much for your interest and for reading! I would also say that if you are here at part four, you’re probably aware of what my goal is with this series. Rather than bore you with repetitive details, I’m just going to get straight into the stories from the ARMY. What I will say one more time is that there is so much more to the BTS fan base then the media acknowledges and I hope that I can bring some attention to our diversity, our struggles and our stories with this series. Let’s get into it! Make sure to check out part one, two and three here or at the links at the end of the article.
Kachina’s BTS Story
24. Female. From England.
“In 2017, during a difficult time in my life when I wasn’t finding joy in music, I came across BTS and fell in love with their music and the themes in their songs and videos. In 2020 my best friend, Hope, passed away. We’d been friends since birth and we both enjoyed listening to BTS together and watching their content. In honour of her, I made a fundraiser for Diabetes UK and ARMY from all over the world donated, raising a total of £754, which I wouldn’t have been able to do without them. BTS and ARMY alike got me through the loss of my lifelong friend.”
“My mum (59) also experienced that loss as she’d seen her grow from a baby, she was like family. During that time, she started to listen to “Epiphany” when thinking about my friend Hope and used it to help her get through all of those difficult emotions. My mum now watches BTS content with me and calls them ‘her boys’ now. It makes me happy and I know that my friend would be smiling about it too.
The link to the fundraiser in honour of my Army friend can be found here. She biased Yoongi.
Note from Antonia: Kachina this is both a heart-breaking and a heart-warming story. I got quite emotional reading this as it is so sad yet so lovely that the ARMY supported your fundraiser for diabetes in honour of Hope’s memory. I have donated and I hope that this article brings a bit of attention to it. I am so sorry for your loss but I’m sure that Hope would be so proud that you are spreading BTS’s message of love and positivity as well as supporting awareness for diabetes.
Aisha’s BTS Story.
23. Female. Social Media Executive. Born in Malaysia but lives in the United Kingdom.
“My best friend introduced me to BTS right before I was thrown into the deep abyss that was A-Levels. Looking back, BTS helped me go through what was the most difficult time of my life. To this day, my best friend and I are still their biggest fans. We were already soulmates, but to be able to cherish BTS and their music together makes me believe we can get through quite literally anything together. We hope one day we get to travel and see them live again. BTS brings so much joy to not only the two of us, but also to so many different lives all around the world. When I come across an ARMY whose life is entirely different from mine or my best friend’s, it leaves me in a renewed sense of awe, wonder and respect for BTS. Their existence has brought together people from all walks of life and made us all unite with such love for each other. I truly feel like I am part of a huge, loving family. My eyes get misty every time I think of it. They are a source of happiness and light for so many people for so many different reasons, and I hope they are always reminded of the love we have for them.”
“My favourite album, Dark & Wild, was the album that got me into BTS. It will forever and always have a special place in my heart. (@aishamerly on Instagram)” https://www.instagram.com/aishamerly
Ry’s BTS Story
33. Demi-boy. English teacher from Thailand (though used to live in the United Kingdom)
“It started because my best friend -who is ARMY-, took me to karaoke where she spent 2 hours singing only BTS songs until they got stuck in my head. I decided to give it a shot and listen for myself. I decided I liked it and started listening to more songs. I didn’t become full ARMY until I heard Namjoon’s first UN speech. It inspired me and I felt like they stood for the same things that I do. It just resonates. It feels like there’s hope in the world. BTS are so genuine and so positive. They’re like the light we run to as children when walking down a scary unlit pathway and your mind starts playing tricks that ghosts and monster are about to get you. They make you realize there’s still good out there. BTS is what I cling to when the worst happens. It doesn’t always work. Sometimes, I still try to overdose or self-harm but they help. And when life is so completely hopeless, it means the world that they’re there and they’re trying to help.”
“My bias is Namjoon. I feel like he’s everything the world needs right now. His ideology drew me to him more than anything else. What bothers me about how people view fans is that there has to be ‘sexual attraction’ involved. Like, you only like and fan and scream at someone you’re attracted to sexually? That’s ridiculous. I have may have rooms full of images of Namjoon but I’m very much devoted to my female life partner. I don’t want to date or marry my bias, my biggest fantasy is to meet and talk to him and that’s it. The world makes up too many stereotypes about fans honestly”.
Note from Antonia: Much love to you Ry and I hope that those feelings to hurt yourself are at least somewhat lessened by BTS and their positivity. Know that you are not alone and if you ever feel the need to do anything to yourself again, remember that line from their song “Butter” about ARMY being behind them. Just as we are behind BTS, we are also standing behind each other. Don’t forget that! I also complete agree with your sentiment on the attraction aspects. This is a stereotype I am hoping to overcome -at least in some small way- with this series of articles.
Yuliana’s BTS Story
52. Female. Senior Child Carer. Born in Bulgaria but lives in the United Kingdom.
“I translate Korean dramas as a hobby and in 2015, my oldest daughter- who was 16 years old then- introduced me to BTS. Later in the same year, I moved to the UK to work as a live in nanny and listening to the BTS music 🎶 helped me to come through difficult times when I was alone and far away from my family. I was always into music but I never felt so inspired and willing to fight regardless of circumstances. The critical point came in late 2016 when I was about to lose my job and go home at the same time. My friend, who does not listen to BTS, told me: “Julie, if you give up now and go back to Bulgaria, you and your family will probably never be able to go to a BTS concert.” I will never forget his words and since then I have found better job for me, I helped my husband and my daughters to come live and study in the UK. This year, I have been promoted in my current job and I am studying at university following my dream to become a professional subtitler.”
“Back in 2016, I was sure that BTS would become the new Beatles but wiser, smarter and they will lead the new generations to a better and brighter future. Their music is powerful, meaningful and educational. Thank you for the opportunity to share my feelings and trust in them. I Purple you.”
“I strongly believe that BTS music is healing our souls and gives motivation to overcome difficulties in life. Their music helped my daughter go through some very complicated mental health conditions and their music helped me to grow as a person. BTS are always one step ahead and challenge us to follow 💜 I was blessed at Wembley stadium in 2019 when we all sang “Forever Young”. It is my favourite song ever.”
Alex’s BTS Story
22. Female. University Administrator. Born in the United Kingdom but lives in China.
“I first got into K-pop in 2012 with the debut of EXO and soon after got into BTS when they released their song “N.O” in 2013. I was 14 and had lots of self-esteem issues. I also placed a lot of my own value in my academic achievements due to pressure from my family. The message of “N.O” is about living your own life and your own dreams and not to let the education system and society dictate to you what is important and what isn’t. BTS’s messages in their early songs about the struggles of being young and the expression of their own mental health struggles really resonated with me as I was going through a tough time. It made me feel less alone, knowing people even on the other side of the world go through similar struggles. Their music helped give me the courage to study what I wanted to and to be myself, despite what my parents or others wanted me to do.”
“I think to paint every fan of BTS or K-pop generally as ’15 year old girls’ is really degrading because it ignores the true power that music has to get us through tough times. I was 14 when I started listening to BTS and 8 years later I’m still listening to them. Music does not have an age, gender, race or anything else. It is a universal language that we all understand. BTS make music that reflects this sentiment that people can resonate with no matter where they are from and that is why they are so popular.”
“My favourite BTS album song is “Rain”. In 2014, that song really reflected how my everyday life felt. Dark & Wild was also the first ever K-pop album I bought! As for singles, my favourite is “Spring Day”. It was released while I was in hospital for a neurological condition and not in a good place at all; the bittersweet sound and lyrics again really resonated with how I felt and what I was going through.”
Caz’s BTS Story.
47. Female. Housewife and Carer to Elderly Mum. Lives in the United Kingdom.
“I’m going to be honest- which some might not like- but here goes. To be honest, I had never heard of BTS until my daughter showed me a video of them. I couldn’t see what the appeal was at first. Why listen to music you can’t understand? However, the more she played it around the house, in the car or watched their videos on YouTube, the more I began to like their sound. I sing along even if I can’t speak their language, but in my head I’m singing in Korean! I know I’m old enough to be all of their mums but I enjoy their music. I’m young at heart but they make me feel even younger and to top it all, it’s something special that I can share with my daughter who loves them too. RM has always been my favourite and I love “Idol”.
Sejal’s BTS Story
32. Female. Unemployed from the United Kingdom.
“I came upon the group when we had the first lockdown. I love how their songs talk about what people go through during life. I wanted to be part of Army because they always have BTS backs,no matter what. ARMY are family and they stick together. Their songs have helped with me my depression and anxiety and they taught me to love myself.”
“My Biases are j-hope and Suga. My favourite songs are “Blood, Sweat and Tears”, “Boy with Luv” and “Dionysus”. My favourite album is Map of the Soul: 7.”
Tiana’s BTS Story
43. Female. Carer and Housewife from Scotland.
“Joined the BTS ARMY in the UK and someone posted that there was BTS Army Senior Network so I joined. My daughter got me into them as I had been wondering what on earth she was listening to. She put “Fake Love” on YouTube and I’ve never looked back. When my depression and anxiety gets bad with my home environment, I just put my headphones in and go into my own bubble to calm myself down. They make me feel that I am worthy to be alive.”
“I love all seven but Jungkook has an extra special place in my heart. My favourite song is all of them on repeat (depending on my mood).”
Emily’s BTS Story
16. Student from the United Kingdom.
“I was watching a The Sims YouTuber and she mentioned them. I checked them out and fell in love with the music. V is my bias.”
Julie’s BTS Story
49. Female. Former Draughtsman, now a Shop Worker from England.
“My daughter became Army in August 2018 so that’s when I became aware of them. Then we got tickets for Wembley and I decided I needed to know their names and some of the songs. I still wasn’t great with the names by the time the concert came around. It was the atmosphere at the concert (before, during and after) that really dragged me down the rabbit hole and I’ve been Army ever since. I have to admit that I still don’t shout about it (which I feel slightly ashamed about) but I’m not a particularly outgoing person anyway and it’s just one step too far but hopefully I will grow in confidence in future. As Namjoon says: “we must learn to live ourselves”. I’m OT7 because I just can’t pick one!”
Sam’s BTS Story
48. Female. Children’s Crisis Worker from the United Kingdom.
“I became aware of BTS through my youngest daughter. My eldest then became ARMY. I discovered an old friend also enjoyed their music and antics. For me it’s not just about seven Korean men, it’s about their message, their diligence towards their work and the great work that BTS and ARMY participate in. Most importantly, they have built a stronger connection between me and my daughter as well as helped develop a lifelong interest in Korea. My daughter is attending university in Korea this winter and I’ll be travelling with her. I have also started my own catering business that creates Korean dishes.”
Georgina’s BTS Story
46. Female. Night Customer Service Assistant from the United Kingdom.
“My daughter introduced them to me in early 2019. She had been ARMY for six months already but I’d ignored it as I remembered her One Direction obsession. She introduced me to “Blood, Sweat and Tears” and I fell down the rabbit hole. I watched some videos trying to learn names etc. I was a bit low due to friend issues and after watching the UN speech, I changed my perspective. We then went to see them live at Wembley and wow what a weekend! I laughed, cried and met beautiful ARMY. After that I was in deep! I am a hardened ARMY. They bring me peace and make me so happy.”
“My bias is Namjoon. He is just so amazing and his words help me. For a young man, he is so profound. My wreckers are Hobi and Yoongi but I utterly adore them all. It is hard to pinpoint my favorite song as depends on my mood. “Forever Young” after Wembley makes me cry. “MIC Drop”, “Blood, Sweat and Tears” and “Cypher 4” are always at the top of my playlist.”
Tracy’s BTS Story
43. Female. Cashier. Born in Scotland but lives in Northern Ireland.
“My daughter was the original fan and I was oblivious to the whole concept of K-pop. To be honest, I thought her obsession was a bit weird! That all changed when I took her to Wembley in 2019 to see them in concert. I went in as an ARMY’s mum and came out an ARMY myself! They have enriched my life in ways I can’t even describe. They are my comfort, my joy. They came along when my life was kind of stagnant and I was going through something of a midlife crisis and they saved me. I discovered fan-fiction because of them, which initially made me very confused as it reinforced some feelings I’d had about my marriage for a long time but had ignored. But ultimately, we ended up going to marriage counselling and addressed the things that were problematic, making us stronger than ever. I could go on for ages about how BTS have changed my life for the better! I also go to a personal trainer now and am improving my health, all inspired by them. I have become more aware and educated about Asian culture and my views and opinions have changed and improved. I just love everything about them, they are beautiful souls individually and as a group. They have overcome so many hardships and negativity, never complaining and always humble. The best role models I could wish for my daughter, and for myself. I am Jikook joint biased. But if I was forced to choose, literally at gunpoint, I would probably choose Jimin. I am wrecked daily by Yoongi. So yeah, bias line is Yoonkookmin.”
“I can’t choose a single favourite song, it’s impossible! But some of my faves are “We On”, “Love Myself”, “Pied Piper”, “Black Swan”, “Seesaw” and “Zero O’Clock”. I have a tattoo on my left wrist which is floral bracelet with ‘zero o’clock’ where the face of a watch would sit. One of the flowers is purple and has seven petals to represent BTS. The idea of the tattoo is to remind me that no matter how hard life gets, there is always a new day so just hang in there. My life can be very challenging as I have a son with ADHD and a daughter with potential autism, assessment ongoing. So I often find myself glancing at my wrist for a moment of comfort.”
Note from Antonia: I really love your story about your tattoo Tracy. It’s a great sentiment that perfectly represents my own feelings in regards to BTS helping me to hang in there even on the most difficult days.
Sally’s BTS Story
48. Female. Medical Secretary from England.
“My 23 year old daughter was learning Korean (randomly) and I discovered K-dramas which I enjoyed immensely with her and then discovered BTS. I came home one day and asked what song she was playing as I absolutely loved the vibe – it was “Not Today” by BTS. The rest is history. After that, I started getting to know all of BTS’s songs and albums and their different vibes. I then watched their MVs, and it was Taehyung who pulled me in, and forever became my Bias. I then discovered the wonderful world of Run!BTS, Bon Voyage and In the Soop which showed the original and real essence of each individual members and how they live, play and work together to form the most amazing and unique bond that is BTS. That’s was when Jimin became my Bias Wrecker, along with Namjoon. Live concerts then pulled me to Hobi as my third wrecker, but by then I loved them all! That then made me love them so much and care for them, as I felt like I was seeing the ‘real’ lads inside the ‘Idols’. I then had such strong feelings of care, love, pride, worry, joy, sadness and happiness shared with them, and the other world-wide ARMY who I know feel exactly the same way I do about these 7 very special men that we have the great fortune of knowing in our lifetime xxx”
Annie’s BTS Story.
20. Female. Community Carer from England.
“I’m 20 and have been a fan since the start. I became a fan of K-pop due to “Gangnam Style” and from then I found BTS and BIG BANG. I had a very rough few years within my family and I felt like a ghost. Like I was invisible to people and unimportant. I was at my lowest but the only thing actually keeping me going was BTS. Their songs always touch my heart and then they brought out the Love Yourself albums. All their songs have meaning but those albums are the ones that picked me up from the ground and helped me to keep fighting and that is why I am the woman I am today. Because they taught me to love myself and continue being me no matter what anyone else thinks. They also showed me that they always have our backs and although the ARMY is labelled childish and a pack of wolves, I have to agree that yes, in a sense we are wolves because we are family, old and young, fans from the start and newly made ones. We stick together, we help each other. There is more to being an ARMY then people. Maybe because they don’t want to look further.”
“My bias is and has always been Kim Taehyung and my favourite songs are “War of Hormone” and “Love Maze”. A great memory of mine is experiencing their concert at the O2. It was the best feeling in the world, especially after getting noticed by jhope after screaming his name with my best friend!!”
I think Annie’s closing statement is a great way to finish off part four of this series. Some people just aren’t going to be willing to look past the whole “boy band fan” stereotype when it comes to the ARMY. Those people might not be able to look any deeper, but if this series can make even one person rethink their opinions on both BTS and their ARMY fan base, then I will consider that a job well done. Stay tuned for more ARMY stories coming soon.