Read: I wasn’t a fan of BTS. And then I was.
Beck: Are you guys involved in the broader BTS fandom? What is the vibe of that fandom?
Haley: BTS’s fandom name is Army, and among Army, people always talk about how BTS seems to have found them at a time in their life when they really needed the band. A time when you felt truly low. For me, it was when all my friends were studying abroad.
Anna and I found them in November. Then I came home for winter break, over December, and we lost our minds collectively. By January, I had created a Twitter account [devoted to them].
Anna: Haley and I started our BTS Twitter accounts at the same time.
Haley: It’s so much easier to connect with the fandom [that way], because you need translations in order to really understand what’s going on.
Anna: And [the band members are] very active on Twitter, too.
Beck: Are there a lot of fans who speak Korean and English who will immediately translate stuff from the band when it comes out?
Haley: Exactly, yes.
Anna: Haley and I both have notifications on for the members’ accounts and then the translation account so that we get those at the same time.
Haley: When you say it out loud, it sounds insane.
Anna: It sounds insane, but it makes it so much easier to connect to the group. Army is amazing.
Beck: Have you guys made other friends through that community?
Anna: Before I had my BTS account on Twitter, I was using my regular account, retweeting all of my BTS stuff on there, because, again, I am a musical evangelist. So the people following me already, who I had been acquainted with in high school, had seen that content. [Some people] reached out to me and after that, we formed really good friendships. Now we follow each other on our BTS accounts, and we hang out. We went to the BTS concert together. I probably would have never talked to them anymore after high school had it not been for BTS. And now they’re like my closest friends.
Beck: Is it just fandom generally, the act of connecting over something, that helps people get close, or was there something about BTS specifically that served that function for you, in a way something else wouldn’t?
Haley: I think K-pop [fans] have such devotion because it requires you to really invest your time and energy into I’m going to look up these translations. I’m going to watch these videos. Im going to wait for English subtitles. You have to really care about this.
I think there is something special about this group, but that’s because we are insane fans of them. But they bring so many different types of people together, and give people an opportunity to look past their bias against the language barrier, against whatever they think this music is, and just expand. I just feel like I’m a completely different person after getting into this fandom.
Anna: It’s super fun to keep up with, because for BTS and [other] K-pop artists, compared with Western artists, they are churning out content constantly. They make it so easy to be a fan of them, because you can tell how much they care about their craft and [connecting] with their fans.