Words by Marielle Balmores
Graphics by Althea Catipon
June 13 may be another regular day for most people. But to a specific fandom, it is a remarkable day that holds so much value and gratefulness. This year, June 13th marks the 6th anniversary of the musical debut of one of the world’s most influential artists, BTS, and their passionate fandom of ARMYs are overjoyed with how far they have come.
If you are still not familiar with them, they consist of 7 young Korean men between the ages of 21-26 who are studiously skilled in singing, rapping, and dancing. The following members are Kim Seokjin (oldest), Min Yoongi/Suga, Jung Hoseok/j-hope, Kim Namjoon/RM, Park Jimin, Kim Taehyung/V, and Jeon Jungkook (youngest).
Throughout their careers, the first few years were challenging especially since they came from a then-small and almost bankrupt company, Bighit Entertainment. Also, the boys squeezed together in their first dorm with 3 bunk beds, one solo bed for their youngest, and one bathroom. Yet, they kept that flame of hopefulness in their hearts lit by training day and night to succeed. Now 6 years later, they’ve become one of the greatest group-artists in the 21st century.
Just last February, they were the first Korean act to present an award for the Grammys. As of May, they dominated the BBMAs as they brought home two major awards, the Top Duo/Group award (I may have cried when they claimed that award) and the Top Social Artist award, and performed their recent comeback song, Boy W Luv, with the talented Halsey! Check the music video of it here. Besides this, they started off their sold-out stadium tour, Love Yourself: Speak Yourself, at the Rose Bowl in California, and became the first Korean act to perform at Wembley Stadium in London! There are still dates to be announced, so hold on to your seats!
With music that tackles social issues, happiness and darkness in life, they are charging the minds of many with motivation to make a change in their own ways. Definitely, this is not something I cannot just simply pass. So I asked various Filipino ARMYs about their views on the importance of BTS in today’s society, let them look back on their lives with a few follow-up questions too.
For you, why is the worldwide impact of BTS today very important?
Due to their popularity, they now serve as role models for a lot of our youth and non-youth. They have accomplished so far and yet remain to relay messages with meaning and not just plain music. – Keisha, 42
They are a good example of music is more than just the language. That music really helps people to understand and love their selves even more. This is not about the language anymore, it is about how their music touches people’s heart. Their breathtaking performances. Their amazing talents and skills. Their aesthetically pleasing visuals. Their commendable personalities. That’s why their impact is very important because they are showing the world that music doesn’t have to be in English for someone to appreciate it. – Athena, 20
They capitalized on their platform to convey their advocacy of loving oneself and being able to express who you are as individuals. – Danielle, 29
Since they have such a large audience all around the world, I think that they have a massive impact on the youth today. It’s important because BTS uses their image to promote positivity, love and all other kinds of characteristics that our world badly needs in this time. They also have the power to bring people together and create genuine relationships with each other. – Rafael, 20
It is very important since they motivate their fans, especially the young ones. Through their meaningful songs, nakakaconnect sila sa mga fans. They talk about depression and such, na very kalat nowadays. They also have this anti-violence campaign sa UNICEF na Love Myself. – Michael, 15
BTS impact worldwide is relevant right now because it ended the xenophobia and lessen down the racism towards us, people of color. It’s important because they opened doors and paved ways for other Asian acts to enter the US entertainment and also give another impression on what Asian artists can do. – Joshua, 20
How is BTS a positive influence in your life? What are some important life lessons you’ve learned from them?
Sa songs nila, and sa recent album nga nila diba “Love Yourself” and siguro very clear naman yung message diba? Like parang we should love ourselves before anything else or before loving others kasi how would we love others when we couldn’t even love ourselves na diba? Also, they taught me na I should never give up if I never succeed at first . – Raphael, 14
As a dancer, I have watched countless videos of them performing and dancing which inspired me and pushed me to be the performer I am today. not only that but they also encouraged me to do my best in everything I do and to ofc (of course) love myself. – Annika, 16
BTS has given me more meaning to life. The lyrics they write give me inspiration to be able to be where I am today. They have opened a new door to me to music, culture and other things. – Female, 20
They inspired me to do better and pursue my dreams. They taught me not to give up on something that will make you happy. – AE, 22
At thirty, I’ve somehow given up on some of my passions in life, thinking that I should just spend my time doing things that “mattered” more. When I started to be a fan (April 2018), I slowly eased my way into getting back into doing the things that made me feel alive and happy and motivated. The most important lessons I’ve learned from BTS are 1) always persevere, and 2) always find joy in every circumstance. – Chris, 30
BTS’ songs teach listeners to always look at the positive side of life and to never give up when life seems to get tough. Their songs also target certain issues such as depression and lacking in self-confidence. On the other hand, when looking deeply into the meaning of their songs, you realize that the members of BTS are just as humane as anyone else. They feel the same way everyone can such as sadness, being exhausted, and sometimes giving up. BTS is able to show that anything is possible if you put your heart into it and believe in yourself. – Cielo, 19
How much have you changed since you’ve invested in them?
A lot in many different ways. One is appreciation of young music, albeit foreign that I don’t even understand. Another is not to take the younger generation for granted. They may actually be more than we think they are. Lastly, if 7 boys can change and affect the world, maybe there is still hope for us, especially through the universal language, which is music. – Keisha, 42
I don’t exactly know how much but I know I changed. I changed for the better. – Athena, 20
Nagkaroon ako ng self confidence. Di kasi ako nakakasayaw in public dati, but now I can. – Michael, 15
Personally, I think I grew much more mature and loving and passionate. Since magaganda katawan and mukha nila, syempre nainggit rin ako so na-motivate rin ako ayusin pagmumukha ko and live a healthier lifestyle. – Raphael, 14
I became more aware, and culturally sensitive. – Danielle, 29
I have changed a lot. Not only with my taste in music, but my perspective on life and its creations. – Annika, 16
How would you describe the relationship between BTS and ARMYs in your own words?
ARMYs and BTS relationship with each other is actually good cause both sides know what they each love and reciprocating the love and support of the fans.- AE, 22
The word for me to best describe with our relationship to BTS and vice-versa is “Family”, we’re here for each other through ups and downs and celebrating every shared memories day by day even through the means of simple things. Family because we can’t be completed without each other, we’re like the bone and the flesh of each one. – Joshua, 20
Unconditional. ARMYs get BTS and I’m sure BTS gets ARMYs, too. It’s also a never-ending cycle of inspiration. BTS members have said time and time again that they get inspired because of ARMYs and I’m pretty sure that ARMYs get inspired from BTS, too. – Chris, 30
BTS and ARMYs quite have a very special bond with each other. The efforts ARMYs go through just to let BTS know that everything is not just a one-sided relationship such as doing fan projects within concerts to tell them to know how much they are loved back is really amusing. I wouldn’t say it is “unique” since many other fandoms do that same thing as well for their artists, but I would rather call it as “special. – Cielo, 19
The relationship is like best friends since there are times that we do not see each other but it means a lot that they are there like there is so much to talk about. There are times that we get affected by what they do but we’re still there. – Female, 20
To put it simply, it’s just a whole lot of love and gratitude that BTS and millions of people all over the world have for each other. The first time I was really immersed into the ARMY community, I felt at home and felt nothing but support and love and positivity, and I feel that with the members as well. – Rafael, 20
If ever you are new and interested already, you might want to jot this down. Consider it as an ARMY starter playlist.
Tomorrow – It’s about being able to dream, and doing something about chasing that dream. – Danielle, 29
Lyrics-wise, I would recommend ‘So What’ kasi yun nga it’s a song telling you to let go of your worries and fears. – Raphael, 14
It depends on the person, actually. If they’re more of a hype-type songs, I’d recommend IDOL and FIRE. If they’re more of a sentimental-type songs I’d recommend Spring Day and Fake Love. For their b-side tracks, I’d most probably recommend Born Singer, Moving On, 2! 3!, Sea, Young Forever, Magic Shop, Answer: Love Myself and Mikrokosmos. – Athena, 20
Epiphany really left a mark in me and a lot of my friends because it has a simple message, but it delivers it so well. The simple lyric “I’m the one I should love” is sung with so much emotion that it convinces you to do so, and it resonates within your soul. – Rafael, 20
The song I would recommend is Begin. Since it gave me a realization that without the people around me, like Jungkook, I wouldn’t be where I am. I am so thankful for them. – Female, 20
For me, the song that I would really recommend up until now is their sidetrack from WINGS album, Lost. This song talks about a person who lost the track, his path on where he is going in life, there’s this line their that I’ll not forget which is “I may lost my way, but I’ll not lose my dreams” this gave me so much aspiration to kept on moving, yes we may not know what’s ahead us but if we have that courage and dreams with us, we can see the path that we should take. – Joshua, 20
As BTS wholeheartedly addressed that music transcends language, proving that language barriers should not hinder us from having a good time and bringing us closer to more people from different backgrounds, it makes an effect on their ARMYs to spread their advocacies wherever they are even if it is tough. In the Philippines, it is very common for K-Pop music, as a whole, to be seen in such a negative way for many reasons.
Here are some insights I received from ARMYs about this phenomenon and how they would approach it.
To each his own. Anything negative means it also affects them in such a way that maybe needs more acceptance and understanding. I didn’t understand at first too, but watching and listening to them and music made me curious about their culture and why, maybe, their lyrics are such and how it is able to impact a lot of ARMYs. – Keisha, 42
I would respect their decisions in their dislike with KPOP since getting influenced and accepting another culture of music takes time and maybe they might not like it now or never but music is music nevertheless. – Annika, 16
It’s about looking at the positive side. We should not focus on the negative comments and actually be mature enough to ignore them and focus on supporting the artists that you love. – AE, 22
I’d just let them be. Since KPOP is our source of strength and happiness, bakit di nalang nila hayaan kami and give some respect. I mean, di din naman namin sila pinapakealaman sa mga bagay na gusto nila. And no one knows, baka isa na din sila sa mga magiging kpop fans in the near future. – Michael, 15
Life’s too short to argue with people and sayang sa data if we keep on fighting with them on social media! Ha ha! If they don’t like BTS or K-Pop, let them be. As the *old adage* in stan twt goes, “Let’s just focus on our faves.” ? – Chris, 30
I would say that if you don’t support it, then don’t. No one is forcing anyone to like something they absolutely don’t like. However, if someone does like K-Pop and someone ultimately hates it, just leave them be and don’t influence them to hate something they love. It’s 2019, let people live. – Cielo, 19
To BTS, thank you for spreading so much life and joy through your music that leads them to follow their dreams. Thank you also for the humor that lightens us up during our tough times, being the stars in our own galaxies. To more years with you.
Thank you to the respondents for their support and honesty! Knowing your stories were so heartwarming.
How about you? What are your thoughts on them and their impact?