I’m sure a lot of people have heard of BTS or Bangtan Sonyeondan (Bulletproof Boy Scouts) recently, what with their new music video Idol and Fake Love being played on radio and TV channels. If you don’t know, no worries.
BTS is a 7-member Korean (K-POP) boy band consisting of rappers, RM (Kim Namjoon), Suga (Min Yoongi), J-Hope (Jung Hoseok), and vocalists, Jin (Kim Seokjin), Park Jimin, V (Kim Tae Hyung) and Jeon Jungkook. Some of their more famous songs are Idol, Fake Love, DNA, Blood Sweat & Tears and Spring Day.
BTS has recently been on the mainstream news due to their massive popularity and I am very proud of them.
The band writes most, if not all of their music and produces the music themselves as well. This is what makes their music relatable to us as they talk about love, loving yourself, inspiration, goals, dreams, being strong and mental health.
I could write an 18-page essay on BTS and why I love them and what makes them great and why they inspire me and more, but I’ll leave that to another day.
Today I’d like to share the difficulties of being an International fan, or at least a Malaysian fan of this worldwide famous band.
Malaysia is such a small country
Reaching international stardom means that BTS would tour to countries which can give them more money, i.e. the United States, Europe, Korea, Japan and China. Who are we, a small tiny country on the edge of the Asian continent?
This means that unless I strike jackpot and travel to wherever their next concert venue is, I may not get the chance to see them at all. That is such a sad thought as I really would love to meet them someday.
Not understanding Korean
There may be a lot of international fans, even Malaysian fans who actually can understand and speak in Korean, but me – I can’t. Well, I can understand a few words and I sometimes pepper random Korean phrases when I talk to my friends, but I can’t string a whole sentence together even if my life depended on it.
So, imagine getting excited to see a notification from their social media pages, only to click the translate button and getting what I got below. #facepalm #learnmesomekoreanplease #anyeong
Sometimes it’s not only the tweets. It’s also the videos or live streams that they’d post and obviously there isn’t time for the subs to be out yet, so I’m sitting in front of my laptop watching these adorable boys talk and laugh while I’m sat here like:
Not being a part of the fancafe
Not understanding Korean comes with also not being a part of the band’s fan cafe. Most, if not all, Kpop artistes have fan cafes where they’d post their thoughts and interact with fans. This means, you actually get to talk via social networking with your favorite idols. Back in the days, you only see your idols on TV – but now you can get closer to them through the internet.
I’ve seen translated versions of BTS members giving advises to their fans and I’m like : “Pay attention to me!”
Trust me, I’ve looked up ways to sign up for the fan cafe and for that, you have to have a Naver ID and then there’s a whole lot of steps to go through before signing up and it’s all in Korean. Yes, there are fans who post up translated versions of the signing up process to help us, but what are you gonna do once you’re in and your idol posts up a status and you’re just staring at it in confusion, because you can’t translate an image.
The albums are freeeeaking expensive and takes forever to arrive!
Obviously being a fan, you want to support your multi-billion dollar worth bands by spending your meager salary on their albums and other merchandise. Buying a Kpop album is freeeeaking expensive and not to mention the taxes and customs and things I don’t think I can even handle.
There are fan clubs who’d buy albums in bulk if you want to and you can order through them. They will handle all the customs and immigration thing (not sure about the process here), but obviously every thing comes with a higher price. I have just pre-ordered my Love Yourself: Answer album through my friend who pre-ordered it through her friend who pre-ordered it through a fan club admin. Do you see the amount of levels we have to go through just to get one album? You can’t just walk into a Speedy shop and get these albums. I mean, you can, eventually, but you might not get some of the awesome photo cards and posters that comes with the pre-order.
And not to mention, it takes forever for the album to arrive – as if South Korea is on the other side of the map. I still have not seen my physical album although I’ve already listened to all of the songs on Spotify and am able to sing along to it now.
New MV vs Lyric MV
BTS is known for writing their own lyrics and all of their lyrics are relatable as well as inspirational. Every time a new music video comes out, we fans want to stream it and listen to it as much as we can. Their songs are always so catchy and melodious.
Unfortunately, if you want to know the story behind the song, you can’t expect Youtube’s captions to be updated the moment the video drops. Sometimes it does, but some of the words may be off.
So the next step is to watch a lyric video posted by other fans. This would mean, the views will go to this random re-uploads instead of BTS’s official Youtube page. And you know how YouTube popularity works, right – with the amount of views and likes? Obviously, you know that BTS can gain a lot of views regardless of anything, but the illusion of them losing out on views in the first 24 hours usually stops the fans from watching videos with lyrics until a few days later.
So until that time, we have to just watch the new video with no subtitles and not understanding a single thing that’s going on in the video. Just to support our boys. Hwaiting!
Missing out on fan meeting
Fan meeting or meet and greets are the best thing for any fangirl/fanboy/fanperson. This is the only opportunity for you to meet your favorite idol up close, get their autograph, say you love them and cry in front of them (because you can’t believe they are really there in front of you).
But, obviously being a non-Korean fan means we’ll never get the opportunity to meet our idols in flesh. Yes, even if you get to go to a concert, it’s different from actually meeting them. Ah, this is already making me sad.
Not being a part of the ‘rainbow ocean’
Every Kpop Idols have their own concert light sticks and the BTS one is called the Army Bomb and these light sticks have various color lights that light up during concert.
The rainbow ocean is basically all the thousands of fans light sticks lighting up like an ocean of rainbow, supporting BTS during their concert and it’s every fans dream to be a part of that.
But being in a country where we might not get a BTS concert makes the dream seems so, so far away.
Still an Army regardless of all these
Despite all the challenges in being a fan (BTS fans are called Army), I still believe we can support our idols in our tiny little ways. Despite not knowing the language, I am able to memorize the songs and sing along to it. Heck, I even sing the songs during karaoke, jamming to it, not caring about the judgment of others.
Every time their song comes up, I get excited because it’s very rare to listen to Kpop songs on mainstream radios. I even attempt to make sad dance moves to their songs, what little I know off even though others never get my reference.
Because in the end what matters is the band. These goofy bunch of kids who are multi-talented makes my gloomy days better. Like what RM says in interviews: “Music transcends languages.”
Despite the language barrier, we all speak the same language in music and that is what connects BTS to their fans regardless of the languages. As long as they keep making music, we the Armies are going to be here supporting them.
I enjoyed writing this piece and do look forward to my post talking about why I love them and how they inspire me.
P/S : BTS are so hilarious and meme-able that I love searching for gifs of them.
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