Asia News (PIME)
By Fr. Martino Ohsejeong
Daejon diocese, Korea, 21 October 2020 --K-pop, Korean pop music is becoming a world-wide well known phenomenon, especially among teenagers and young adults around East Asia. However there is one especially emerging group, called BTS (seven young adults in their 20s who have performed together since 2013, and now are known all around the world like the Beatles 50 years ago).
When you ask some of the BTS fans, called ARMY (=the global army of BTS fans) “Why do you like the BTS”, their typical answer is: “Its authenticity and empathy!” How can I explain this answer?
Many have tried to analyse the BTS phenomenon, but the South Korean music critic, Kim Youngdae, is the most reliable voice. Based on an historical, cultural and anthropological understanding of pop music, he has written a book: BTS the review. A Comprehensive Look at the Music of BTS. For ARMY, he is a true and credible music critic. In Kim’s view, BTS as well as other K-pop groups are boy groups whose roots go back to USA of the 1950s, then brought to Japan in the 1980s and this musical genre flourished in Korea in the 1990s. …But BTS by creating and performing their own music, BTS members can insert real life stories into their songs and dances. They are naturally empathetic with today’s youth. To be more precise, although they work with producers and experts, the band members own their creative work, talk about hardships and pains shared by their peers who live in the same neoliberal world that uses them as tools of production or just maximize profit.
When young people listen to their music and watch them, they feel they are taking a walk with BTS. This path also leads to service. Whilst singing about their suffering, BTS stresses optimism, not pessimism, highlighting, for example, work with UNICEF in a campaign to end bullying, or supporting UN campaigns. ARMY, which closely follows BTS's activities, also serves society.
This positive aspect brings parental support. Sometimes parents are BTS ‘s biggest fans and introduce their children to their work. Thus, the key to their success is the BTS’s journey, with the producer and ARMY tagging along.
In his Apostolic Exhortation Christus vivit (n.37), Pope Francis deepens the teaching on the subjectivity of young people, stating: “Young people can help keep her [the Church] young. They can stop her from becoming corrupt; they can keep her moving forward, prevent her from being proud and sectarian, help her to be poorer and to bear better witness, to take the side of the poor and the outcast, to fight for justice and humbly to let herself be challenged”.
Editor’ note: Due to the generation gap most of the SDB and SF members are not familiar with BTS, so here is some basic information:
BTS (Korean: 방탄소년단; Bangtan Sonyeondan), also known as the Bangtan Boys, is a seven-member South Korean boy band that began formation in 2010 and debuted in 2013 under Big Hit Entertainment. The BTS seven are composed of RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V, and Jungkook—co-writes and co-produces much of their own output. Originally a hip hop group, their musical style has evolved to include a wide range of genres, followed by hundreds of millions of their fans.
BTS also helps improve the Korean economy. Every year it contributes some 3.5 billion USD. For those who have never listened to BTS, just search on YouTube for their main hit-songs or albums: Dark & Wild (2014), Wings, Love Yourself: Tear, Map of the Soul or Be (2020). Aside of their albums, concerts in Korea and abroad, they launched the ‘BTS Universe’ (Bantang Universe) as ‘alternative universe’ created by Big Hit Entertainment. So the BTS becomes the main icon of the Hallyu (Korean wave) already spread around the world in the last 20 years or so. Last 2018 BTS also attended the United Nations 73rd General Assembly for the launch of the youth initiative "Youth 2030"