BTS is home.
BTS feels like a long and tight hug after a dreadful day.
That’s how a handful members of the 40-million strong ARMY (Adorable Representative M.C. for Youth) sum it all up when asked why they adore BTS—the zenith of the Hallyu Wave (a.k.a. Korean Wave) influence, which further gave rise to the popularity of Korean culture that includes music, drama and food.
In the music scene, BTS (Bangtan Sonyeondan), is considered as the top-ranking K-Pop group today, as reported by Koreaboo.
Talking about ‘food x music collab,’ McDonald’s Philippines launched the exclusive release of its BTS meal on June 17, 2021. This meal consists of 10-piece chicken nuggets with two new Korean-inspired sauces (cajun and sweet chili), medium Coke, and medium fries.
Most Philippine McDonald’s branches were filled with purple decorations to celebrate the BTS meal launch, and even malls such as Uptown Mall BGC and SM Mall of Asia joined the hype.
Of course, this wouldn’t be possible without the support of the ARMYs, BTS’ official fandom, who were the most stoked for this collaboration.
Since the BTS meal is only available for a limited time, ARMYs were found converting its packaging into a keepsake. Every bit of it is important, from the paper bag to the cover of the nugget-dipping sauce.
Some ARMYs would even go as far as putting and arranging the food packaging in an acrylic box, something similar to the stuff we see in museums.
Dani, a 22-year-old medicine student, simply arranged the packaging of her BTS meal in a binder sheet.
Elle, a 17-year-old senior high school student, made a keychain and notebook cover out of the BTS meal packaging.
KC, being a proud ARMY that she is, framed the packaging of her BTS meal.
These simple ways evidently show their love and support for BTS but what could be the reason behind it?
An ARMY was born
BTS debuted in 2013 with seven members: V (Kim Taehyung), Jungkook (Jeon Jeongguk), Jimin (Park Jimin), Suga (Min Yoongi), Jin (Kim Seokjin), RM (Kim Namjoon), and J-Hope (Jung Hoseok).
Photo by HYBE
Based on their official Twitter account, @BTS_twt, the ARMY is now made up of 36.6 million members all around the globe (and there could be more!).
One possible reason as to why they have this big of a fanbase is because of their “light” aura and charm. This makes their fans binge-watch their shows, music videos, and random snippets of their lives, making the ARMYs more connected and attached to them.
“They helped me get through some of my toughest situations up until now. When I get to watch them, I feel complete joy and contentment, knowing that they love us as much as we love them. Despite their phenomenal success, they remain humble, dedicated, and grateful to everyone who has helped them to get to this point.
“They’re SO SO SO different from all the other K-Pop groups out there, which I believe has aided them in getting to where they are right now, prompting me to support and love them even more than I did yesterday,” Kirsten, a 19-year-old Communication student shared.
Dani also believes that BTS is different from others, and said “I support BTS because their music carries messages that you don’t get anywhere else. They have a message they want to get across, and they do that. All that on top of the fact that they’re just hilarious and always put me in a good mood.”
BTS also paved the way for ARMYs to connect with each other and expand their social circle in support of the boys.
“My favorite part about being an ARMY is that I never felt that I’m just a fan.. It felt like I’m in a big loving family. The bond between BTS and ARMYs is really different from just an idol and a fan. I haven’t seen them in person but I feel so close to them and they will never make you feel that they only see you as a supporter and that made me stay,” Elle explained.
Every time BTS releases a new song, their fans unite to promote it on all social media platforms and stream it. They set a target number of views to break records after records. ARMYs would organize streaming parties and mass vote for BTS every time the group gets nominated in an awarding.
Aside from these, the fans would also splurge on several BTS merchandise (exhibit A: BTS meal) like albums, photo cards, lightstick, and many more. They collect these things to serve as ‘memorabilia’ and it also gives them a ‘sense of comfort’ to see their collection growing.
Kirsten’s BTS merchandise collection
Elle’s BTS merchandise collection
ARMYs and criticisms
The fans often receive comments such as “too obsessed,” “too invested,” and there are also times when the fandom is tagged as “toxic” and “snowflakes.”
In line with the recent happenings, “BTS biot” (“BTS is gay”) has been circulating all over social media. There were also instances that these fans are being questioned as to why they “stan” BTS when they do not understand the Korean language at all.
Despite all these, ARMYs would, again, unite to take down unnecessary hate and disrespect thrown towards the group and their fellow fans.
Dani said the fandom is rightfully dedicated and protective because so many people are hating on BTS just for the sake of it.
“We stand up to every criticism and bullying they get. Whenever they’re feeling down, we trend hashtags on Twitter and we cheer them up via SNS. They have good souls and they deserve nothing less,” Kirsten explained.
About the Author
Tricia Allyson Salvador is a Communication student from the University of Santo Tomas and currently an intern of SubSelfie.com.