Music

What Does It Mean to Be Part of BTS Army?

ARMY has practically redefined what contemporary fandom even is.
IMAGE HONG JANG HYUN
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BTS has been propelled to superstardom and will go down in history as one of the biggest—if not the biggest—bands in the world. Talent was a big part of its equation, but a large part can be credited to the band’s loyal fanbase, ARMY, a well-organized community that would put any military army to shame.

 “Inspired” is a weak way of describing the ARMY’s relationship with BTS. RM phrased it perfectly in BTS’ cover story with Esquire U.S.: the two “are always charging each other’s batteries.” Even “fandom” is a pretty simplistic way of describing what ARMY is exactly, as ARMY has practically redefined what contemporary fandom even is.

They’ve gone beyond cheering on the men of BTS. They’ve pushed social good in their name, protected the members from tabloids and gossip sheets, funded reforestation efforts, raised money for night schools, and so much more. “Movement” is a more adequate description of ARMY, and something that BTS does not take lately.

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“All those behaviors always influence us to be better people, before all this music and artist stuff,” said RM. “We’ve got to be greater; we’ve got to be better.”

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For those who exist outside the BTSverse, the band and its fanbase are a phenomenon that some can’t even begin to understand. Everyone from Gen-Z to even Gen-X has been roped into the world of BTS and ARMY, and for the people who want to understand what the buzz is all about, Esquire Philippines’ Lonely Hearts podcast interviewed “Angel Yu,” who’s far from the stereotypical image of a boyband fangirl. Yu, who’s going by a pseudonym, is a late-30s-to-early-40s PR and marketing professional who begins her morning ritual by playing “Life Goes On.”

“I’ve never been a fan or a strong music follower. I’ve never paid for a concert my whole life, I’ve been to Beyonce, J. Lo, and I’ve never paid for tickets. [But] for the first time in my life I bought a BTS ticket for a concert and it was one of the most amazing experience I’ve ever had,” said Yu to Lonely Hearts.

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In episode five of Esquire’s podcast Lonely Hearts, Yu, a certified member of the BTS ARMY, gives Sarge Lacuesta, Esquire’s Editor-at-Large, a crash course on the wholesome, universal appeal of BTS and how it’s resonated with millions across the globe. Yu and Lacuesta discuss everything from BTS’ efforts to challenge masculine stereotypes and its ability to connect to those who speak a different language through shared values.

At late-30s-to-early-40s, Yu doesn’t see herself outgrowing BTS, calling their messages timeless. And that’s pretty much the case with the entire fandom as well.

You can listen to Esquire’s ARMY episode on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and wherever you get your podcasts.

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Anri Ichimura
Staff Writer, Esquire Philippines
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