Welcome back to my in depth look at the lives and stories of the ARMY, BTS’s dedicated fan base. If you are here at part three, you’ve likely at least skimmed through the other two parts of this series and know why I am doing this. BTS’s ARMY fan base tend to get the raw end of the deal when it comes to their reputation in the media, with many considering us to be nothing more than obsessed groupies.
Before we start, I have a little story that I wanted to tell about something that happened to me today whilst at work as an example of this. Keep in mind, this was all said in jest but it’s still a perfect example of what I’m talking about. I have a BTS lanyard and someone I worked with noticed it and questioned me about it. This person was very cordial about them when I explained who they were, even noting that they were aware of the rise of K-pop. Another person who was in the room- however- made some comments that were pretty telling and suggestive of how people who don’t know anything about BTS will sometimes view their fans. This person was also cordial and friendly- clearly joking with their comments- but they first joked that they thought that the BTS members (grown men, remember) looked like kids and that because I like them, I must be a …I won’t say the word but it begins with “P” and relates to someone who is attracted to children. That floored me a little but a joke is a joke and it was clearly not meant in malice (even though it’s not something I would ever joke about personally). I explained that my interest in the band led to an all-around interest in Korean culture and that I was now learning the Korean language because of it. This person then joked with me again, saying that I was clearly only learning the language so that I could travel to Korea to stalk the group once the lockdown was over. Again, I was more than a little surprised at this blatancy even if it was merely a joke. I ended up asking if this person knew anything about them or had even heard of them. They had not. All they had was my lanyard picture and this was enough to create the assumption and make the joke. I tried to have a good sense of humour about the whole conversation- like I said, there was genuinely no ill intent meant and I very much like the person who made these comments- but all it did was remind me of why I am writing this series. To show that there is more to us. We are real people with real stories who have been positively affected by BTS. All that being said, let’s get on to some more stories from the BTS ARMY. Make sure to check out part one and part two if you haven’t already.
Username @YoongisSeesaw__’s BTS Story
16. Male Student who was born in Guatemala but lives in the United States.
“I came across BTS in late 2013 and became Army in 2014. They have helped me in so many ways. I have depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and trauma and I’ve had so many low points in my life but when I really hit rock bottom in 2019, they truly saved my life. I don’t think I’d be here if it weren’t for them. I wouldn’t get out of bed most days in the middle of 2019. When I did finally get out of bed and take showers, I always played BTS. I’d cry while getting out of bed or I’d cry in the shower. But once BTS started playing, I’d calm down. My parents saw how they helped me. This led my dad to get into them and we would both sing along to their songs. This also helped me create a stronger relationship with my dad. Because of BTS I am here, I am continuing and I am happier. Thank you BTS!”
“My bias is Yoongi but I’m OT7 and my favourite song is “Sea or “Magic Shop!”
Note from Antonia: I’m so sorry that you have had such a difficult time but its amazing to hear how BTS not only help you through the worst days, but how they also created a stronger bond between you and your father.
Alyson’s BTS Story
58. Female. Administrative Officer from the UK.
“My daughter showed me “DNA” and I loved it. I became Army because I wanted to see more and learn more. They made me feel young again and worth something, encouraging me to love myself and when I am feeling depressed and having family and health issues I put on a track, watch a YouTube video or Tik Tok and suddenly feel better.”
“I found Kim Taehyung fascinating and compelling and he has been my bias since I became Army with “DNA” and this has never changed but I also love and respect all seven members. My favourite song has always been “Stigma”; favourite album is Wings (that’s the concert I most wish I had seen). I think I may be an orchestral girl at heart!”
Caitlyn’s BTS Story
20. Female. Student from England.
“I was a Dan and Phil fan (British YouTubers) and they were in the newest “Youtubers react to K-pop #2” and I thought “oh I’ll watch this”. BTS were the second group that they reacted to, which was the song “Dope” at the time. Straight away it got stuck in my head and I had to know who they were”
Paige’s BTS Story
19. Female. Student from England.
“I was already a K-Pop fan before 2017; however I became a lot more dedicated to K-Pop after finding BTS in 2017. The best memory I recall with them, is the Wembley Day 1 concert I attended. It was my first time in London and first time at a concert. I hesitated calling myself an ARMY before attending the Burn the Stage movie screening. After that, I started to come out of my shell and call myself an ARMY and feel comfortable.”
If you ever need a reminder of how much BTS loves you, read the “Mikrokosmos” lyrics and watch the “Mikrokosmos” performance 💜.
Debbie’s BTS Story
56. Female. Administrator from the UK.
“I had a teenager who had been introduced me to the world of K-Pop and anime back in 2014. I would hear strains of Korean lyrics from their room and really did not pay much attention in the beginning. I suppose it all started when Beaux said they were having a concert at the O2 and we tried to get tickets but failed. I started to listen to BTS more closely from then on, but kept it on the down low because I wasn’t sure how it would have been received; mum liking BTS! When they announced the stadium tour, Beaux asked, ‘please can we go?’ and from then on they started teaching me the names of the members to recognise them easily and made me learn the fan chant. We successfully bought tickets that following year and went to Wembley day 2 and that day changed my life!”
“I remember every time they pulled me into their bedroom to quiz me on the members, making sure I knew them well and pointing each out on the posters adorning the walls. I was drawn to one man every time. Suga is Beaux’s bias and I laughed the first time that I was told to pick mine, but there was no question who I would choose. Those dragon eyes had already drawn me in. Namjoon and BTS have become my light and have guided me into the most beautiful purple ocean filled with love. Thanks to them I now listen to music again, I now sing again, I also now dance again. The lyrics of the songs have truly begun to heal me; a single mum who had raised three children alone for ten years by then. A shell of a person that needed fixing to find herself again. I wish I had known them earlier, but I know they found me when I needed them the most. I am still a work in progress but thanks to them finding me I am finding myself again and becoming a better person.”
“They inspired me to write and draw again. I have published several stories on Wattpad after some encouragement from Army friends and am frankly amazed that anyone else would want to read them. I write to feel good. My link is here.
Charlotte’s BTS Story
28. Female. Hand Therapy Assistant from the UK.
“I first heard of BTS when BBC Radio 2 played “Butter” on the radio but thought nothing more of them. Fast forward two weeks later and whilst on Instagram, I saw a video on Jimmy Fallon’s page saying about a live performance of “Butter”. It was then that I was shocked to see not only was there seven of them but also that they were Korean. At this point I started looking at them on YouTube and that’s when I knew I was officially ARMY!”
“They have changed my life in the sense that they have helped me relax and become less stressed over situations I couldn’t control. Through their music and watching their shows, (Run BTS, Bon Voyage, In The Soop etc.). I can just escape with them and forget about my problems and through their lyrics, I start to feel a sense of ease and understanding to actually love myself and anything is possible. They’ve brought light to this otherwise dark world.”
“Jimin is absolutely my bias on many levels. I love how shy and cheeky he is one minute but as soon as he is lost in the music, this god comes out of incredible talent! I love the tone and diversity of his voice and when he begins to dance…those hips! Can’t take my eyes off him!”
Carol’s BTS Story
39. Female. Animal Groomer from England.
“Discovered BTS in 2019 when they released “Boy with Luv”. I liked them straight away. BTS help me through each day and because of them I’m learning to love myself and have confidence in myself”
“Namjoon inspires me because he’s always positive even when he’s down. He’s someone I really look up to.”
Helen’s BTS Story
50. Female. School Kitchen Assistant, Mother and Housewife from England.
“My daughter introduced me around a year ago. I had only really heard “Dynamite” and “Butter”. I started listening to more of their music, and watching Bon Voyage, In the Soop and Run BTS during lockdown helped keep me sane. I really got to see their personalities and sense of humour. They remain so humble, so grateful etc. and with their dedication and love for Army. I love their singer/song writing skills. The dance routines amaze me as does the passion and energy they put into this!”
“Bias is Jimin. Fave song is “Idol”. Love Jimin’s solo dance in “Black Swan”. Have yet to see them live. 50 years old and proud to be a BTS fan, so much so I have their name tattooed on my arm 방탄소년단💜
Carla’s BTS Story
42. Female. Receptionist from England.
“I was introduced to BTS by my eldest daughter (who is 22), and she was watching “Dope”. I first thought the music was catchy but couldn’t stand looking at the members because I thought they all looked the same. Over time, I began to watch more of their videos and I started to appreciate not only the music but also began to see the individuals before me. BTS have changed my life for the better as they have given me a positive outlet. I adore every single member and I wish I could thank them personally.”
“I would literally fall to the floor if I ever met them or saw them live at a concert. I had the opportunity to see them in 2019 but I sacrificed my ticket for a fellow Army who is friends with my daughter. She was scammed out of her ticket and was broken hearted so I gave her my ticket so she didn’t miss out. My bias is Jungkook and has been since day one, he amazes me so much and I’m never ever going to change my mind. However, I am fond of everyone else too……”
Note from Antonia: Carla, you did such a wonderful thing for your daughter’s friend!! It was so selfless and kind of you. I have to say, that is definitely the kind of act that BTS would be proud of. I truly hope you get your chance to see them one day.
Daniel’s BTS Story
20. Male. Unemployed but about to start a traineeship course. From the UK.
“Despite my sister being a fan of BTS from the start, I never knew about them. She’d listen to their music a lot and their songs would come up during road trips when we went to visit family but I still never really paid a lot of attention. Then one day in 2018, I was watching a compilation/top twenty songs list and “DNA” was included. I really liked the song. It was different to other music that I was listening to at the time. Then “Idol” came out.
““Idol” got me into the group proper since that album was full of fantastic songs like “Euphoria”, “Seesaw” and “Love Myself”. Once I fell for them, I went back through their discography and found iconic songs like “Blood, Sweat and Tears”, “Wings” and “Anpanman”. I was basically an ARMY at this point. All of the members shined in their own way in their songs and in their personality during shows and Run BTS. If it wasn’t for BTS, I wouldn’t have found the world of K-pop and I couldn’t imagine myself without it. As someone who has depression- and has had for years now- I’d be lying if I didn’t say BTS helped at times with songs like “Magic Shop” and “Mikrokosmos”. These songs are gentle to the soul and help bring me back around when I need it.”
“My bias to begin with was V/Taehyung but over time I grew to like all of them so it’s a hard choice. My favourite song has to be “Mikrokosmos”. I fell in love with it instantly when I heard it and seeing it live basically killed me (it made me cry). My favourite album, I’ll give that to Map of the Soul: 7. It might not have “Mikrokosmos” on it but all the of the songs were really well done and it has some of my favourite solo songs on it. BTS performances are phenomenal but “Euphoria” and “Dionysus” are my favourite.”
Kate’s BTS Story
40. Female. Disabled Carer from the UK.
I’m 40 and I have a 17 year old autistic son who I care for. I’m also disabled with something called RSD. Being autistic, he cannot stand loud music and me being eclectic, I love music from all eras. So one day, when he came to me showing me this group on YouTube I was shocked and paid him full attention. It happened to be BTS. He was so enthusiastic and joyous and it was so amazing to see. He was telling me all the names of each member and I was trying to remember them all. He told me about what they stand for etc. and as a mum I thought finally something wholesome he’s got into. I was astounded at the details he knew and it made my heart swell. So we found ourselves after school watching YouTube videos, listening to their music and watching episodes of Run BTS. Before long, I had my favourite song that I could sing in Korean (“Black Swan”) and I knew each and every member. I found I loved them each individually for their quirks and caring personalities and-as a whole- secretly wishing that my son would have friends like those boys. This was a huge thing to my son and he was so proud of me, so I started to teach him the Korean words so he could sing along properly. Now they are a part of mine and my son’s relationship and something we always keep each other up to date on. We have them on our Spotify playlists and even have merch, albeit only a small bit. We’re both learning Korean and he’s learnt about another culture. I’ve been an Army since the “Carpool Karaoke” YouTube video and my son has been since he was a teenager. He’s now in college and I’m losing weight all because they have taught us to accept who we are. Having RSD is no cakewalk, and these young men have helped in ways they will never ever know. Once you accept yourself, you can do anything. It’s all about #Loveyourself
My Bias is Taehyung and my son’s is Jungkook. My favourite songs are “Black Swan”, “Danger”, “Telepathy”, “Tomorrow”, and “Dimple”. My son’s is “Fire”.
Note from Antonia: This story really gets to me on a personal level as I have a brother with autism and I know the struggles all too well, as does my mum who raised us both by herself. I also know how amazing it can be when you see them discuss what they love, and how hard it can be for them to find something that brings them that joy. Knowing that BTS has done that for your son- and you too- is incredible. Also, super impressed that you know all the words to “Black Swan” and “Telepathy” and “Fire” are two of my all-time faves too.
Lia’s BTS Story
33. Female. Hotel Assistant Manager. Lives in the UK but was born in Portugal.
“I was going through a bad break up at the end of 2015. I didn’t know a lot of people in the UK and with the loss of the relationship. I also lost the friendships and connections I made through it. I was devastated and depressed, seriously considering leaving the country and going back to Portugal. I’m a long time anime fan and was healing my sadness on YouTube with anime edits to random songs when I came across one that had BTS’s “Butterfly” and I just thought the song was so beautiful that I had to look more into it. I was familiar with J-pop and K-pop but never really dived into it. It was a starting point of discovery and “going down the rabbit hole” as we say. I found their sound so unique and their music amazing. I started getting deeper into it and found ARMY. <3 I made new friendships and made myself whole again. They were the light at the end of a very dark tunnel.”
“Through the years, I believe their music and concepts have gotten even better. They have created beautiful pieces like “Spring Day”. As an avid reader and art lover, it’s incredibly touching to see their music and MV’s encompass so much and deliver such powerful messages through lyrics and visuals. The scope of what they have accomplished can be seen through the positive influence they’ve had on ARMY.”
Note from Antonia: I’m really glad you decided to give the UK another chance Lia! ARMY are rarely given credit for their warm and welcoming side and I think your story is a great example of how both BTS and ARMY can get us through the darkest of times in our lives.
Jennifer’s BTS Story
31. Female. Nursery Nurse from the UK.
“I first came across BTS on YouTube after my husband showed me their performance of “I’m Fine” on The Tonight Show. He knew I enjoyed K-pop. And that was it. I was so entranced by the song, the dancing, their vocals and their visuals! I immediately downloaded their album Love Yourself: Answer and then downloaded every album and song they’d released and discovered Run BTS, which I watched to get to know each member.”
“2018 was a dark time for me but discovering BTS, their music and messages, they gave me hope that everything would be alright and I owe them so much for helping me through that time. If I could say one thing to them, it would be “Thank you. Thank you for teaching me to love myself, for offering a shoulder to cry on, and for being a light when the rest of my life was dark.””
Nathalie’s BTS Story
48. Female. Unemployed due to long term mental and physical health issues. Born in France but lives in Kent in England (me too!!).
“The name BTS wasn’t completely unknown to me as my daughter has been ARMY since 2016 but I never paid attention to them or their music and, much to my shame, used to tease my daughter about “those pretty boys”(which I regret deeply). My BTS journey began last year, 21st of October 2020 to be precise, and the phrase “You don’t find BTS, BTS finds you when you need it the most.” This couldn’t be truer in my case. I have a long history of depression, anxiety, self-harming and, last October, I was at one of my lowest points (over six months in shielding, daughter moving out, financial difficulties etc.). On that particular day, I just felt empty. I was scrolling through the television channels aimlessly and stopped on some music channel. I got up and walked to the bathroom, sat down on the toilet and reached out for a razor blade. But, as the razor blade hovered over my wrist, a song came on that woke me up from my trance. I dropped the blade and walked back into my living room….BTS’s “Dynamite” MV was playing and I was transfixed, fascinated. I played it over and over again; called my daughter to ask her everything she could tell me about this band, discovered other MV’s…and that was it…I was hooked. I didn’t circle the BTS rabbit hole, I plunged head first, all in!! 21st of October 2020 marks the beginning of my love story with BTS but it also marks the last day I ever picked a razor blade to hurt myself or think about cutting myself, which- after almost 40 years of battling with self-harming or just thinking about self-harming- is a major achievement for me. I owe this to those seven amazing young men.”
“I could talk for hours about BTS, like most ARMYs. I get very emotional and protective when it comes to the Bangtan lads and, apart from my daughter, no one in my social or family circle understands my passion for BTS (most even mock me for being ARMY at my age). I genuinely love everything about them.Their music, their personalities, their values, culture, work ethics, them as a group but also as individuals, their achievements, etc. Although I love all the lads, Taehyung caught my eye from the start. I was in awe of his beauty but his quirky personality and how endearing and smart and funny he is. Jimin and Suga were very close behind (so I guess you could call them my bias wreckers…lol). I haven’t come across a track I didn’t like but some songs have had more of an impact than others. “Dynamite” will always be special as it was my first introduction to BTS. “Pied Piper” is my go to song when I have to face the outside world and keep my anxiety in check. Most of the solo tracks have helped me in one way or another, like J-Hope’s “Ego”, Agust D’s “Agust D”, V and J-hope’s “Hug Me”, Jin’s “Awake”, Jungkook’s “Begin”, RM’s “Do You” etc. 2019 MAMA’s performance is by far the most impressive performance of all performances…ever…from any artist….lol. All RUN BTS episodes are a must watch for instant happiness booster. I watch everything I can find about BTS. God, that makes me sound like a crazy fan and I might be, but not in a negative way. BTS and everything they do, everything they stand for, is helping me cope and survive and I don’t want to feel ashamed for being one of their fans anymore ever!!! Being part of ARMY is more than just liking their music. For me, BTS and ARMY are my salvation .I just wish I had more people around me who could share all of this and really appreciate BTS. BTS brought colour back into my grey life x”
Note from Antonia: Nathalie, thank you so much for being so open and honest about your struggles. Your story really amazed me and whilst I’m so sorry you’ve had to deal with these problems, it’s wonderful to know how much BTS and the ARMY have helped you alomng the way. I myself have also struggled with similar issues to yourself and Dynamiete has a special place in my heart too for the same reasons: it was the song that got me into the group and it was a song that picked me up at a n incredibly low time. What I’m trying to say is, you are not alone!
Sara’s BTS Story
30. Female. Dog Daycare Handler. Born in Portugal but lives in the UK.
“I found BTS in 2015. I love their message; their songs help me overcome a lot of things in life especially on those difficult days when you want to shut off from the world. They have also changed my views on so many topics.”
Stephanie’s BTS Story
21. Female. Student. Born in Venezuela but lives in the UK.
“I have been a K-pop stan since 2012, with BIGBANG as my all-time favourite group. I first came upon BTS as news broke about “I Need U” snatching awards and everyone’s attention, so I decided to check them out and followed their activity as well as listen to their music. BTS make their own music and I really love that, plus they are very active and the ARMY fandom is real family! I also love how humble BTS are and that they truly respect their sunbae-nims! (This means an elder/senior in terms of Korean honorifics).
“I feel that I am very much a casual listener to BTS as I am a bigger stan of the second generation of K-pop but I do love supporting them! I went to their London Concert in 2018 and they were brilliant and beautiful!”
“My Bias is Rap Monster/Namjoon although V/Taehyung loves to bias wreck! My favourite song has to be “Idol”, it is very fun and reminiscent of my Hispanic roots too!”
Thank you so much to all of the volunteers who shared their stories in this article. Some of these can be harrowing to read but I feel like it’s so essential for people to understand how we are so much more than we are made out to be. Again, I do wish I could have written a note for each story so forgive me if I didn’t leave one for your story! There are more stories to be told so stay tuned for more coming soon.