A story more critical than BTS’s suspension of activities

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‘Why do ARMYs participate in political and social activities?’ is a hot topic among BTS researchers. This discussion continued at the BTS international conference held in July. The analysis of ARMY, which has emerged as a political force, has just begun.

One topic that scholars studying BTS have recently focused on is ‘Why does the Army (BTS official fan club) participate in political and social activities?’ In July 2020, the American anti-racism movement ‘Black Lives Matter (BLM)’ was when ARMY’s political influence began to be highlighted worldwide. When BTS’ agency Big Hit Entertainment donated 1 million dollars (about 1.3 billion won) to the BLM campaign, the ARMY joined the procession. More than $1 million was raised in one day. They spread the hashtag ‘#We Love Black Army’ online and staged a collective ‘no-show’ protest during the campaign of former US President Donald Trump. Foreign media reported that K-pop fans had emerged as a progressive political force.

However, these events are only a ‘part’ of the social movements in which the ARMY participated. Overseas K-pop fans exert their power as political beings in their respective societies. It is no coincidence that K-pop always appears as a ‘fighter’ at the scenes of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, Thailand, and Myanmar. Dr. Lee Ji-haeng, a cultural researcher who wrote BTS and Army Culture, said, “In North America, there is a strong atmosphere to give political meaning to the fandom phenomenon surrounding BTS. However, the extent to which fandom activities appear as social movements is much stronger in Asia.”

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