The Han River runs through Seoul in South Korea:
This river is as beloved and integral a feature of South Korean identity as the Seine is to the French.
In June this year, various bridges and other landmarks in the city were illuminated in purple:
This is a big deal. They don’t color-code Seoul every day.
So why did they turn on the purple lights? Because purple is the signature color of Korea’s own pop stars BTS, and the seven-member singing group had just completed a 13-coutry tour and were returning home.
By the way, in case you don’t know, it’s a BTS world we are living in.
You might have heard of the term, K-Pop, short for Korean popular music. You might have heard snatches of a K-Pop song on a soundtrack of that hip Netflix show you watch. This might have led you to check out a few K-Pop groups on YouTube and you kind of liked its catchy mix of pop, old R&B, rap, and EDM. You might have had Korean food for lunch in LA and bought a few CDs in Koreatown and thought, Well, I’m pretty much a K-Pop connoisseur now, look how cool I am.
That was all me, before I found out about BTS.
Then I found out about BTS.
Trust me. Nothing prepares you for BTS.
BTS is/are the single most powerful addictive substance out there, and I can personally compare them to tobacco, wine, Lay’s potato chips, various recreational products that are not, strictly speaking, “legal”, and the occasional off-label use of prescription drugs.
BTS are much, much worse than oxycontin.
BTS have made me an addict. Like, bad. Real bad. I am obsessed.
BTS have been churning out content (music, music videos, social media, TV shows, special internet movies, etc) since 2013 and are finally this year becoming the biggest thing in America, selling out stadiums in LA, Chicago, and New York [NJ Giant Stadium] on their recent tour and it kills me that I have wasted SIX YEARS not knowing about them.
When friends spot the Korean newspaper in my living room, I mention that I’m learning Korean because two of my books have been published in Korea. . . but it’s really because I want to be able to sing along with BTS songs.
When my husband asks what I am watching for hours in the den with my headphones on the computer, I tell him it’s Korean horror movies because that makes me sound really cool. . . but I’m really watching BTS videos. For hours.
When I quit my volunteer job at the used book store and the library staff asks me what I’m going to be doing instead, I say I’m going to spend a few months in Korea because I love the food and culture. . . but it’s really because I want to shop at the Mother Ship for BTS merch.
But Vivian, you ask, Why should I care about BTS?
Because BTS matters to about a3 billion people in 79 countries, and 2020 is going to a BTS year and you can’t be cool if you don’t know that.
Because in South Korea, a country which depends of exporting 53% of its goods, BTS is worth approx. US$3.6 billion to the national economy every year — on par with the contribution of 26 other well-known mid-sized companies.
Because BTS is mentioned an average of 600,000 times on Twitter per day,(reports Brand Watch).
Because BTS has built a reputation as one of the most socially conscious groups in Korea. Their lyrics have touched on subjects like mental illness, consumerism and issues in the school system. On September 24, 2018, BTS became the first K-pop group to speak at the United Nations for the launch of Generation Unlimited, a campaign to ensure every young person is in education, training or employment by 2030.
Because here at home, BTS is the first group since the Beatles to have three number one albums in the United States in less than a year.
You all remember how important The Beatles were, right?
This is bigger.
In 2020 BTS will go back on tour and America will light up the Empire State building. . .
. . . the Golden Gate Bridge. . .
. . . and the Grand Canyon:
I know this because I know Girl Power.
Girls and women are 85% of the fan base of BTS, the majority of them old enough to already have had their starter marriages under their belt, and they are united in a single co-hesive force that they call A. R. M. Y..
Where A. R. M. Y. marches, it conquers.
For example, this is what the Baidu V Bar division of A. R. M. Y. is doing in Seoul this week:
Baidu V Bar did this for a BTS member named Kim Tae-hyung, known as V, who is celebrating his 24th birthday on December 30. In an amazing feat of fore-thought, Baidu V Bar liaised with the city government to become an official part of the 2019 Seoul Christmas Festival and created this Purple V Zone homage in downtown Seoul.
By the way, this is V:
Yeah, he’s really beautiful.
But wait, there’s more.
In addition to this Purple V Zone in downtown Seoul, Baidu V Bar announced that they will be printing a full-page birthday celebratory ad on December 30 in 25 different print newspapers in Korea, producing 13 million copies of his “birthday card” in total.
But wait, there’s more.
You have to understand that Baidu V Bar is not a Korean A. R. M. Y. division. Baidu V Bar is based in China, a country where BTS has never even toured, a country where BTS is not even the most popular K-Pop, or Mandarin-speaking, group. But BTS has A. R. M. Y.
So, in addition to the display in downtown Seoul and the 13 million newspaper ads, Baidu V Bar raised 2M yuan — $286,000 — in just 15 days so they could mount a spectacular event in honor of V called “Starry, Starry Night” , and it will be the world’s first light show at the foot of The Great Wall of China.
(Baidu V bar teamed up with DAMODA Intelligent Control Technology Company, the executive cooperative partner of the 2019 China Central Television Spring Festival Gala, to design an aerial show that will be performed by 300 Kongming lanterns and autonomous drones, and it will spell out V in purple lights as well as several other images associated with his solo music.)
Are you getting that A. R. M. Y. is, like, the most fearsome special ops corps in the world?
Remember, A. R. M. Y. is 85% female, and they pull off things like this for BTS all the time. Ask RM about that forest that got planted for his birthday on September 12. A forest.
That, my Dear Readers, is what Girl Power can accomplish. It is creative, life-affirmative, and good for the planet.
You know what else Girl Power can do?
And so on.
So, after hiding my obsession and feeling kind of icky for my virtual stalking and wondering if I’d had a stroke or something, I am admitting that I am powerless when it comes to BTS and I am confessing right here and now that I am A.R. M. Y., and I’m honored to be enlisted.
I hope you will google BTS blood sweat tears, or BTS boy with luv, or BTS V singularity, and that you will find yourself several hours later still googling all the A. R. M. Y. videos, the BTS Tv shows, the BTS movie, etc.
I know what you will be going through, because I’ve been there. It’s scary, and weird, and a little bit embarrassing. You are not alone.
You can save yourself a lot of self-loathing by reading this first from Mandarin Mama.
Just read her anyway because she’s hilarious and she gets YOU. You’re welcome.
Before I go, here’s some reminders of how twisted your inner self is already. If any one of these makes you l laugh, you’re ready to become A. R. M. Y. Let’s you and me make martinis and stan BTS together.
Have a great weekend, Dear Readers.