The kings of K-pop continue to break boundaries and expectations. Not only one of the most powerful groups to emerge from Seoul, BTS has become a global superpower and continue to manifest change through their unifying messages of hope and positivity. In June, the band and their label Big Hit Entertainment donated US $1m to the Black Lives Matter movement, which their dedicated fans — the Army — matched by raising another $1m.
The band’s latest single, Dynamite, an unreserved celebration of life, has smashed multiple records, including but not limited to the single’s video becoming the most viewed YouTube video in 24 hours. It also became the band’s first Billboard Hot 100 number one, garnering 33.9m US streams in one week and making them the first all-South Korean group to top the chart. The band is, quite simply, unstoppable.
Here, in an exclusive letter written for Vogue, RM, J-Hope, Suga, Jin, V, Jimin, and Jungkook reveal how sharing stories have provided hope and comfort for both themselves and their fans during a difficult few months, which has seen the world grapple with the pandemic.
“We all grow up with stories. Sometimes, they are fairy tales read to us as we are tucked into bed, coaxed into our blankets with the promise of magic or victorious heroes overcoming difficulties with remarkable resilience and strength. At other times, they are stories in the media: movies and sitcoms, news articles, or the latest release from our favorite artists. These stories are voices we hear day today as we grow up, instilling values within us, and shaping the way we see the world.
“The world isn’t too perfect right now. Times are hard and fast-changing. We, too, have struggled in the hardships of this year and have had to abandon our plans. We were disheartened and upset. There would be no tours. Opportunities to share our passion and efforts with the fans who so fervently support us were seized from us for an indefinite period of time. We still think about our February album, Map of the Soul: 7, and how dearly we wish we could have performed ON on stage among blaring cheers, blazing lights, thunderous drums, and the shouts of tens of thousands singing along. We put in our all, and our fans would have loved it. We share with the world these feelings of disappointment, loss, and void. We understand the difficulties, even if we cannot fathom their depth. Regardless, we stand with you.
“As seven young men telling our own story of growth through our medium of choice — music — we dared not imagine from the start that so many from all over the world would relate to and share our message. We have been deeply fortunate with the love we have and still do receive. It is love so great that it still sometimes feels surreal. How could we have imagined we would be touring stadiums across the globe and hearing uncountable masses of all ages and nationalities echoing our songs back to us? It’s a feeling more brilliant than words can describe.
“We grew to become so much more than we had hoped. And as more and more people sing and dance to our music, we grow not only more thankful but also more aware that there are so many people out there who are influenced and inspired by our words and messages. We, BTS, are just seven young men growing and learning like everyone else in the world, but we wish to tell you: hope is everywhere — keep going.
“Although we did not get to meet our fans in person, we were able to reach out to them through our online concert, Bang Bang Con: The Live. We were also able to find time to reflect and collaborate among ourselves, preparing for an upcoming album for which our members have put in more creative input than ever before. We also released a new single that has been loved and enjoyed by our fans everywhere. Dynamite is the joyful and energetic fruit of our struggles and a much-needed breakthrough that helped us to stop feeling disheartened. The song is our message of hope, and we are lucky to share it with so many.
“For BTS, our stories are our music. Our happiness lies in being able to sing and perform, and our joy comes from our incredible fans, the Army, who give us the extraordinary experience of sharing our stories with millions.
“As seven individuals, stories have made our world. Now, as a group of seven, we tell our stories to the world as a message of comfort and hope. And we hope this message reaches you as well.”
BTS’s new single, Dynamite, is out now
Originally published on Vogue.co.uk