Following on from part one of our look at the stories of the BTS ARMY, we continue on with this multiple part article that delves into the fan base of one of the biggest bands in the world right now. The point of these articles is to show how much more BTS and their fan base are in comparison to how the media tends to depict them. This isn’t the case for all media outlets of course, but a great deal of them- particularly western ones- tend to portray them as a generic boy band with a legion of squealing fan girls behind them. As this is far from the case, I wanted to get to know some real life ARMY members and learn their stories. Make sure to read part one here if you haven’t already!
Cheri’s BTS Story
37. Female. Carer from England.
“My daughter was Army and was always trying to get me to listen to their music. Out of pressure I caved in and I’m glad I did. The first song I ever heard of theirs is “Dope”. I remember thinking what good looking, talented lads they were. Fast forward to now and I feel a lot different and admire them a lot more. Not only have they made the bond between me and my daughter stronger but their message of “Love yourself” that they send out to the world has had a massive impact on people, including me. I have suffered from depression in the past and this message really got through to me. To love myself. To take care of me. I’ve been much happier for it and so are my kids 🙂 They are more than a boyband in my eyes. They are inspiring my daughter, who now runs K-pop random dances and she would of never usually have had the confidence to do that! They led her down that path, she’s now at college doing dance. I’m thankful to them! And my son also likes them too and I’m all for it! Why wouldn’t I be, looking up to 7 talented, thoughtful, humble, positive boys? I couldn’t think of anything better for him to follow 🙂 we are looking forward to their next concert . We purple heart BTS and all Army 💜”
“My bias is Jimin (although in the past it’s been Jungkook, RM) and V is my bias wrecker (may as well be OT7 at this rate 😂) I really couldn’t choose a favourite album or song because I just love them all. Please could I mention my daughters random dance channel on YouTube”: www.youtube.com/channel/UCXEnasZcprpHkFaMBvUTx2Q
Her Instagram is: Making_nottingham-kpop
Gladya’s BTS Story
23. Female. Junior Software Developer from India.
“I was open to all kinds of music from a young age so I wasn’t new to K-pop. I had listened to various groups. 2017 AMA TV debut of BTS caught my eye. I watched the MV, had a doubt, went to the comment section. Their music, the sound and the hype about them made me curious. “DNA’s” lyrics were so beautiful. I wanted to know their names and here I am. Almost 5 years.”
“What really caught my attention is the amount of content. The fan base even at that time was huge (obviously now it’s probably tripled). The way, the fans support, respect them as artists and they in turn do their best to give their love back to us. They perform, make music for us… We repay by buying, streaming, enjoying, sharing and hyping our faves”.
Dorinda’s BTS Story
56. Female. Mother and Grandmother from England.
“I’ve always watched the Graham Norton show and it wasn’t the best introduction for BTS so I thought I’d go make a cup of tea but then I heard music. I was curious, so I decided not to jump to another channel. I saw them and thought ‘pretty boy band’ then by the end of “Idol” I went onto YouTube (it was just to see if Jimin was as pretty as they were!) and that was it, down the rabbit hole I started to fall. I needed to try and find out as much as I could about the people they are, their music and what floats their boats. I’ve always shared interests with my youngest daughter but at first I didn’t tell her or anyone that I really liked them. All I could think of was what would people think of me in my 50s being mad about them! I was sadly very scared to tell any of my family or anyone. I just kept researching the guys when I was alone. After a couple of months I told my daughter to listen to a couple of songs but not to be judgey with me and it was the best reaction from her in a polite way. She thought I was being sneaky/greedy not wanted to share lol! Then she told all the family and I’ve got 3 of her son’s into them. Her oldest son likes a few songs and I’ve had my family laughing in a loving way, telling me I should not hide anything that makes me happy. Lastly I’ve learnt not to keep judging myself and thinking I’m not good enough thanks to these seven angels of BTS. I quite like myself the way I am and who I am. I will love me one day. I’m working on that next.”
Suga is the perfect man, my other and better half with the lovely Tae nipping at his heels daily and the other’s catching up fast!
Maria Teresa’s BTS Story
68. Female. Retiree who lives in The Netherlands but was born in The Philippines.
“My grandchildren- in the USA- did a good job bringing BTS to my attention (from the time they debuted); my grandson was dancing and singing with “Fake Love” and from then on, I followed BTS. Not only did BTS attract me with their music, dances, and their performances. More so, I was taken with their ideals in life. Their perspective of everything in life. BTS had depth; they are good performers but aside from being talented, they brought inspiration to the youth and even to us, the older generation. Inside me, having these lovely seven young men- BTS- I saw hope for our younger generation, and the future and once again, I see something good reaching out to us, young and old! Every day, I thank God for his sign of hope for all in BTS!!! That is why BTS is legend!!! I hope many could see deeper in BTS. Not only their being idols or a boy band because they are more than that. Look deeper into who they are and you will be one with Army and call yourself a BTS Army, too…as I do😊”
“My bias: all of the 7, but esp, our youngest, JK💜💜💜”
Carla’s BTS Story
38. Female. From the UK.
“I truly believe BTS helped save my daughter from a dark place. I asked what she was smiling about one day because smiling became a very rare thing for her and she said “BTS, mama” and showed me RM’s U.N speech. Just before the Wembley concert, I lost my job and the BTS UK Senior ARMY came together and donated towards a fund to get my daughter an ARMY bomb. I will never forget that for as long as I live, most amazing group of humans 💜”
“Kim Namjoon is my ultimate bias – but the whole rap line is my bias. They have a love for hip hop like I have and their songs are absolutely phenomenal! “Fake Love” is my favourite song, it’s the first song I heard and I honestly never felt such emotion through music.”
Chrissie’s BTS Story
73. Retiree from England.
“First saw them on ‘The Voice’ and was totally gobsmacked by the singing and dancing. Then heard “Dynamite” on YouTube and I was hooked. I was suffering with depression due to pandemic and BTS pulled me through. I owe them my sanity.”
“I’ve done a lot of dancing in my life. I attended a dance school for years so no surprise that Hobi is my bias 💜 I try to copy some of their routines (not easy at my age or any age). Fave songs are “Pied Piper” and “Spring Day”.”
Margaret’s BTS Story
50. Female. Community Care Manage for People With Learning Disabilities from Scotland.
“Five years ago, my niece tried to get me to watch/listen and like a lot of people, I was dismissive. I ended up watching the “Danger” dance practice over her shoulder one day and was super impressed with the choreography and how in sync they were (I danced when I was younger so I could appreciate). I didn’t realise this was the same group she had been trying to get me to watch. I started to look them up on YouTube and watched more choreography. I liked the songs and was hooked but the biggest thing for me was “RUN BTS”. Getting to know them on a personal level was like nothing I’d ever experienced from any western band ever – seeing them cry and being vulnerable- seeing how unbelievable humble they are made me take stock. Like a lot of people, I was going through a period of low mood and loneliness and their lyrics hit hard. They expressed what I couldn’t and the healing came with the “RUN” episodes. I laughed with them and smiled when I saw or heard them and they made me feel alive. I started to look at myself and love me for myself (which has never been the case). Because of my love for BTS I have met some of the most amazingly generous and giving people who I have remained friends with. I’m not so lonely anymore. My enthusiasm has brought many members of my family- old and young-to ARMY. I am proud of everything these seven young men do. I laugh with them. I cry, celebrate and feel overwhelmingly protective. They have truly changed my life for the better. I’m only sad I wasn’t younger so I could enjoy them longer #Borahae.”
“I have a double bias –Taejin- but really I love them all. My favourite song is “Fake Love” and the best weekend of my life was Wembley. Only these seven men could have me driving 9hrs to see them 😉.”
Stephanie’s BTS Story
42. Female. Management Accountant from England.
“After working from home for a few months- listening to the radio as I worked- I suddenly heard “Dynamite” on Radio 1. I was vaguely aware of BTS, but didn’t know much. “Dynamite” became a brain worm that I couldn’t get rid of so I figured I should find out about them. I figured who was who by their mic colours and fell down the rabbit hole. I’m not sure how I found Weverse now, I think some US ARMY page mentioned it, but I joined and started to talk to other fans. By October 2020, I was hooked and became ARMY through and through.”
“I downloaded MOTS 7 first, and “Make it Right” just kept jumping out. Something about it connected with me in a way I couldn’t explain and that’s sort of how I feel about BTS. They make great music, they’re very easy on the eye, have such likeable personalities and as a teenage Thatter ⫩ (Take That’s fanbase), I understand the boyband appeal, but they mean so much more to me and I just can’t explain what it is. Through them I’ve made some amazing friends and they often say the same. We can’t explain what it is about them that makes them mean something more to us. I think my teenage self would have loved them too, but my 42 year old self has found something else in them, an unexplained but beautiful connection, and I’m so grateful I did. I think some of the fandom- and I will say often the younger ones because I’ve spoken to lots- get over protective and defensive about BTS. No one can say a bad word against them, not give them an award, make a bad joke, without some of ARMY jumping on it and baying for blood and I think that’s a shame. They’re not children that need protecting from the big bad world. When they are truly treated badly, I would defend them of course because no one deserves to be attacked but most of the time it’s not what I would deem serious and I think it diminishes the more serious things that they have had to put up with. They love ARMY, and are grateful for our love and support, but they don’t need us to start a fight over every little thing that might be vaguely negative towards them. If my teenage years had been lived in today’s world of social media then I may have been one of those to go on the defence and fight against anything that was said or done to them, so I don’t blame those that behave that way. We protect those we love after all. I just think the actions and the reactions of some are so unnecessary and give us all a bad name and -by association- it tars BTS too.”
Note from Antonia: Thanks so much for bringing up some really interesting points in regards to the more possessive natures of some of the ARMY. I think we all have to take responsibility for our behaviour and at the end of the day, some just go too far in their defence of the band. I’m hoping this article will show that the vast majority of us are not quite so possessive and quick to attack people.
Sally’s BTS Story
71. Female. Retiree from England.
“My granddaughter introduced me to BTS in 2018. I loved them the first time l heard them. I went to the first Wembley Concert with my daughter and two granddaughters. It was the best night of my life. They keep me young and make me smile when l am feeling down our boys help make things feel better.”
“My Bias is V he has such a beautiful voice. But they are all wonderful young men and have helped so many people with their positivity and charm. Plus they make me laugh with their funny ways too.💜💜💜💜💜”
MJ’s BTS Story
56. Female. Works in education. Lives in Scotland but was born in the USA.
“While I’d heard and seen them on TV talk shows since “Idol”, I somehow ended up with BTS showing up on my TikTok FYP a lot during the last lockdown which got me curious. From there I searched Twitter and discovered Army as well as the Weverse and v-Live apps. I kept seeing them mentioned and watched “Bon Voyage” and discovered their crazy “Run! BTS” shows. I also was watching a K-Drama back last spring in lockdown and liked the OST so I Shazamed it only to discover that V of BTS wrote the song. That song (“Sweet Night”) and discovering how funny BTS were, well, that was that, down the rabbit hole I went! I loved their personalities first and then I came to their music after. No exaggeration, unexpectedly discovering BTS during lockdown saved me. I had been slipping into a Covid isolation induced depression and was struggling. BTS gave me connection through humour, through meaningful lyrics, through ARMY Facebook groups and through their amazing v-Lives! They gave me energy through their music and MV’s and their live streamed concert, “Sowoozoo”, blew my mind! I noticed that I had begun to laugh again. I began to move again, dancing in my kitchen and listening to their songs at the gym. I began to sleep more soundly. Suga once called J-Hope his ‘vitamin’, well BTS are my vitamin. They rescued me from lockdown depression and bring so much joy and I feel eternally grateful to them. I officially joined Army on Weverse during lockdown and that’s me now. Bangtan for Life!!”
Bias wrecker: “Suga + V”
Fave Songs: “Mikrokosmos”, “Dis-ease” and “We are Bulletproof: the Eternal”
My Biggest Flex as a Senior Army: “Disposable income! I can buy their back catalogue and their merch. I could afford to buy “Sowoozoo” online tickets. I would buy a VIP ticket and happily fly outside the UK to the US, Europe even South Korea if that were the only way to see them in concert.”
Tiff’s BTS Story
55. Female. Legal Secretary / Singer Songwriter / Artist / Writer / Mum from the UK.
“I was spiralling downward as I hit the menopause and had faced a few setbacks with my singing/song writing so much that I thought about throwing the towel in. My marriage was on the rocks and I was feeling isolated. I just existed in a dark room without any sunlight. On a school run, my daughter asked to put on Radio 1. All the songs seemed to blend into each other until this one song came on. It hit me straight between the ears and then the language changed and I was intrigued. I checked the song listings and found out it was BTS. I thought I’d just check out the MV for the song I had heard on Radio 1 on YouTube. “Make It Right” then took me to “BWL” and “Blood Sweat and Tears”. It was like a ray of sunshine, as if someone had turned the lights back on. I watched various YT clips and found out their backstory, how they had gone through so much, it really hit a nerve, being in the same boat many times in the music industry, it made me feel ridiculous that I had even considered giving up on the one thing I love doing. BTS gave me the kick up the arse I needed to get myself together”.
“At the same time, I fell completely down the rabbit hole. My family and friends thought I was having a midlife crisis but I didn’t care. I had joy in my life again and I wasn’t going back into that dark hole. I became extremely protective of BTS (and still am). I would feel very miffed when people insulted them, it was like a personal slur so I distanced myself from people who were rude about them and sought out Army online. I joined BUSAN and love(d) the interaction. I knew I wanted to see BTS live so I joined Weverse and became “Army” purely on the pretence that I was just joining for that reason. I had never been in a “fanclub” before. I was way too cool for that. 😉 And then finally, when my Army membership card arrived, I had to admit, to myself, I was Army and actually, I was pretty okay about it. Since then BTS have lead me onto K-Dramas and a whole new watch list. The great thing is, if I’m having a crap time, I check out YouTube and I have an instant fix. They cheer me up immediately. Tuesdays are the best day as its “Run BTS” day. The members make me laugh no matter what they are doing. As I am an older Army, each member of BTS feels like a son to me. I pray for them every day and hope that they are keeping safe. I generally worry about them which I can’t say I have ever felt for any other artist. Thanks to BTS I got my old self back and she is never going back in that box”.
“I have written some of my best songs to date thanks to finding my light again. I owe this to BTS. My bias is Jimin and I am waiting for a song to be released that was written about him. My wrecker would be the rest of them. I have painted pictures of them and written songs and stories that are inspired by them. They have been a great source of creativity for me and helped me to get back on track. My only concern is that I may embarrass myself if I ever saw them live or if I happened to bump into any of them. In another life, I would love for Jimin come home with me so I can wrap him up in a blanket in front of the TV with a hot chocolate and make sure he was well fed and cared for, like the son I never had”.
Note from Antonia: That last little comment about Jimin and hot chocolate warmed my heart so much Tiff. Thanks for that.
Mary Anne’s BTS Story
54. Female. Guesthouse and Café Manager. Born in the Philippines but lives in Malaysia.
“I chanced upon their song while listening to Malaysia’s top Hitz on YT then searched for the group and more of the boy’s music. I liked most of them even if I didn’t understand them. Then upon reading the comments, I became curious about the translation, the story behind the songs and finally about BTS. I fell into the rabbit hole because of three things. The first was the mystery, the puzzle, the theories of the songs and the albums. They intellectually me got hooked. In turn, the more I fell in love with their music. This was the first time in my life that I learned to love hip-hop and rap ( but only with BTS songs!). I tried to listen to other K-pop boy bands… but mehhh. I didn’t like their music.”
“The second reason was the boys themselves. They were amazingly fresh, naturally hardworking, funny and talented individuals. They are smart, they have wisdom. Their charming personalities and even their weaknesses that made them human, made them feel like us common people who had same weaknesses, struggles, problems, concerns made me relate to them. They had the strength of character to rise up above all their personal struggles, challenges, trials, and also as a group, as a ‘second’ class K-pop idol, for the discrimination, for the hate, they continued and fought back. They inspired me and continue to give me inspiration. I have bouts of depression. I’m a person who likes to procrastinate, bordering on being lazy. I lost all passion and just continued to survive. I seem successful to some people and fine on the outside but internally I am struggling. No one knows. Thank God for BTS. Thank God for Jin. His story, his struggle as a trainee as a member whose colleagues are so talented and skilled is my story too. His philosophy and how he proved to himself, to the boys and to the world (with so much grace and quiet resolve and confidence) is my inspiration. I love all their performances but I love the “Wings” era best of all. I love the therapeutic “In the Soop”, “Bon Voyage” and “Run BTS” because you can discover their different personalities and hidden talents. BTS makes me happy. They make me laugh. They are a source of inspiration. I love that they have balance. Each member has his own unique personality, talent, skill, charm that contributes to the BTS as a group”.
“I love that RM is the nerdy, clumsy, ‘principal’ not a typical idol persona but a good lyricist. I think they were able to participate in the UN because him. There is a reason why he is our ‘President’ Jhope who is a ray of sunshine, very humble, self-sacrificing, a team player and a really good person. Suga. Producer, rapper, lyricist. The hyung they look up to. Even the members listen (take him seriously and doesn’t interrupt) and respect him. Jin. My bias. He is different from the usual hyungs. But as time went by, the members were able to appreciate his philosophy in life. He got respect for being consistent in improving his skill as a singer and dancer. He got respect for being the Ace of “Run BTS”, for being smart, for being good in sports, for setting the mood and culture as hyung.The three maknaes. Talented, charming visuals in their own right, hardworking. What more to say? They are most well loved by many”.
Emma’s BTS Story
26. Female. Soon to be Student from the UK.
“I found BTS back in 2015. I’d never heard of them before and never had I ever listened to K-pop before, other than that one song back in 2013 from PSY. Even though I didn’t understand the words they were singing at first, I instantly fell in love with their music. The more I listened the more invested I became. I would look up the lyrics to every song, understand the message behind it, and then I took the time to get to know things about them as people. Not only that, I took the time to understand their story of how they came together, what they stood for and how incredibly hard they work and how hard they have worked to get where they are now to this day. Namjoon was the first person who caught my eye. I thought -and still think- he was incredibly handsome. They’re all incredibly handsome men. I’ve always loved rap so instantly Namjoon, Yoongi and Hobi were my favourites but I love them all. They are all so incredibly talented and beautiful souls. “
“Namjoon was my first Bias but the more I watched them in interviews and “Run” episodes and performances and so the more I saw each individual member’s personality, I instantly related to Yoongi. We have such similar personalities and that’s when he became my Bias and still is my Bias to this day. It’s strange for others to understand because to them “it’s just music” but when you get to know them even though they are not a physical presence in your life, you can really relate to all of them on different levels. They’ve been through so much together and individually. They understand what it’s like to go through tough times, depression, insecurities, among other issues and they work hard to spread that message in their music to people and to a lot of people it’s a comfort because it feels like someone out there understands them. That someone is there to listen to them because they know what it’s like as they themselves have had to overcome challenges and it has brought together so many people from different ages, backgrounds, races and sexualities all because of these seven normal boys from South Korea who made them feel understood. Helped them to understand that it’s okay to love yourself, that you are beautiful just being you and that it’s okay to make mistakes and learn from them. As someone who has a lot of undealt with trauma and has suffered with depression since the age of 16, I am incredibly grateful BTS stumbled into my life because they have helped me learn to love myself, helped me realise that I can achieve what I want, that there’s no limit to what I can achieve. Finally- at the age of 26- I’ve decided my dream is to help people. I know what it’s like to experience trauma and depression and I want to help other people who are suffering too because I’ve been there myself. I’ve finally decided to study psychology and work within mental health. I’ll forever be grateful for the happiness and comfort BTS brought to my life, and I’ll support them long after they decide to depart. I’ll always and forever be proud to be Army! 💜💜💜”
Note from Antonia: I’m so sorry you have been through so much but I love that BTS helped you realise what it is you wanted to do with your life, Emma. Such an uplifting story. The future of mental health services is sure to be bright with your contribution!
Cheryl’s BTS Story
56. Female. Housewife from Hong Kong.
“Became an ARMY in October 2020. Covid had limited my social life so much that I began searching for things to watch on YouTube. Watched mostly US chat shows and Graham Norton. Saw this Korean boy band doing the rounds…“IDOL”, “MIC DROP”……I was addicted, no turning back! At first, I couldn’t tell who was who, and I’m Chinese! 😆 But their songs, their choreographies, their looks….I HAD to get to know them. Suga caught my eye and he has been my bias ever since. I love them all but, to me, he has that something special. They are so multi-talented, I’m just sad I didn’t get to know of them earlier.”
Best song: BTS-“Love Myself”; Suga-“Seesaw”.
Best album: For me, BE
Best performance: Too many to choose just one. They are that good.
Frang’s BTS Story
67. Female. Retired Artist from Ireland.
“I found BTS last year after watching K Dramas like Hwranag where I got interested in the background music, and then looked up K-pop bands. When I happened upon BTS, I found that their music made me laugh and cry. I cried a lot initially at the beauty of their message. It reminded me of the truths I pursued in my youth, ideas and tenets that I had forgotten, or put on a back burner because survival got in the way. They reminded me of the days when I did my own thing to make the world a better place, when I went out there unafraid and made a difference. I could feel myself in their music. I started watching their YouTube videos then and took an interest in their lives. I loved their kindness, their willingness to learn and understand about the world, and all of us Army. I love their decency, sense of fairness and above all their compassion and kindness. They reminded me of my own children and what I was missing in my life. I have incredibly kind, wonderful, beautiful children and grandchildren and BTS somehow brought them closer, and gave me hope for a better future for them. It has been nearly 3 years now since I saw my family, but BTS brings me comfort while I wait, and hope, that this pandemic might end soon. I became part of Army because I somehow needed that oneness with others, even in my isolation. I have never been to a concert in my life but I now have something to hope for in that I would love to see BTS in concert before I die.”
“I have been alone for the past several years, not due to Covid but instead because my family are abroad with their families. I only used to see them once or twice a year in the days when I could travel freely. Due to Covid, I have been in total isolation for over 2 years now. I only see or talk to other people about once every month or so for a few minutes at a time, such as delivery people or the occasional caller to the door. My isolation is because I have auto-immune diseases and a brain disease that is very rare. Because I don’t get out, I am reliant on TV, You Tube, and Netflix to find out what is going on in the world and for entertainment. I used to not even bother with that, but I can no longer paint or do crafts because of my diseases (I was an art teacher and artist), so now I only have the TV and computer, and even then my sight and mobility are waning. I get by, one day at a time, or sometimes one hour, or even minute at a time, because the isolation gets to me sometimes. BTS has been my lifeline.”
Note from Antonia: Frang your story touched my heart and I’m so sorry to hear about your illnesses and your isolation. BTS are such a saving grace to so many of us and I’m glad you are able to get some joy from them and their music.
That’s it for part two! What I found really interesting here is that although- so far- all the responses I have had have been from women, a lot of those women discuss how both their female and male children and grandchildren are also fans of the band whose lives have been changed for the better because of them. There seems to be a broad spectrum of fans being uncovered from these interviews which is amazing to read. I hope that BTS will continue to inspire young men and women around the globe with their message of being true to who you and are and not caring about what others think. Also, I wish I could write a little note to each one of the contributors here- as I have done for some- but this article is already taking a long time and I want to be able to share your stories sooner rather than later! Thank you so much once again to all of the volunteers who shared their stories. More coming soon!