Earlier this week, when the popular Korean band, BTS, announced their hiatus, but not disbanding, to focus more on solo activities, their fans across the globe almost went into a mourning phase. Over the past few years, the craze for K-pop has grown multi-fold. K-pop isn’t new and there are several older K-pop bands and singers (remember Psy of Gangnam Style fame?). However, BTS has managed to put Korean music on the world map. So, what is it that draws the youth towards the septet?
For the love of music
Interestingly, the these Korean pop bands are trending amongst teenagers and in their early twenties. But why are they so popular among teenagers in India despite the language barrier? “Because their music is so good. You can relate to their music and all the band members look so good when they perform. You don’t have to understand the lines, just listen to the music and you feel relaxed,” says 20-year-old Komal Ahuja.
The majority of Indian teenagers are enthralled by K-pop Idols and their songs. The band members’ attitude, lyrics, and dancing, particularly BTS, have a stronger impact on Indian youth. Most of the youth we spoke to confessed that they like BTS because they enjoy their music, lyrics, and rhythm.
Ritu Dhanjani, a final-year student is hooked on BTS music and likes V alias Kim Taehyung. She says her friends make fun of her admiration for a man who looks feminine. “I feel so angry when people say that. Just because they are clean-shaven you can’t them feminine. I love V and have his photos in my room and his name on my copies. I will start earning in the next few months and save money to visit them wherever they perform,” says Ritu. She adds that her family also likes BTS music. “I have made them popular in my house and now my mother and father watch their performance when they are on TV.”
Sanghamitra Ghoshal, a Mumbai University student and a K-pop fan, says she likes K-pop because of its lyrics and music. “I just feel they are with me. The music connects so much. It feels relaxing. Their performance is so lively you may not be able to catch their lyrics but you get hooked to the music,” Sanghamitra, who is a BTS fan, says.
We are ARMY
For the unversed, BTS’ — comprising RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin V, and Jungkook — fandom is called ARMY (Adorable Representative MC for Youth). It carries quite a meaning: fans will always be with BTS just like how the Indian Army is associated with the military and body armour and the two are always together.
“As an ARMY, I am sad that they are going on a hiatus. But, I am also happy that they aren’t disbanding. Somehow I feel this is their way of preparing their fans for their looming military enlistment. Nonetheless, ARMY will always support BTS, irrespective of their decision. We will patiently wait for their comeback,” says Delhi-based Araddhya A Singh.
Not just BTS
K-pop made its way in India with Psy’s Gangnam Style, way before the band made its official entry in 2013. His song became a global viral hit in the summer of 2012 and followed a thousand versions and parodies with more than three billion views on YouTube.
Korean music’s popularity can be estimated from the fact that Indian President Ram Nath Kovind chose to mention them in his speech during an official banquet hosted for South Korean President Moon Jae-In in 2018. “Korean popular culture has also charmed us. From Gangnam Style to Korea’s band BTS, our youth are captivated by the tunes of these iconic pop groups — even if many of them have never visited Gangnam!” President Kovind had said.