Intense pressure on BTS to ‘reconsider their break’ in South Korea

Last week, BTS announced plans to pause their musical activities as a group to focus on new personal projects. If this news was understood by fans, South Korea’s National Association of Singers issued a statement on Wednesday urging them to “reconsider their decision.”

To what extent can a music group carry the economy of an entire country on its back? Last week, BTS announced that they were pausing their musical activities as a group to focus on new personal projects. The members explained in a video aimed at fans that at the age of seven they were exhausted and didn’t know where to go with their career anymore, so they could find themselves better later, so they decided to devote more time to their personal lives and future albums to dedicate. Solo. While this decision was greeted with intense emotion by their admirers – the ARMYs – they quickly understood the importance of giving themselves time to breathe to protect their sanity.

But on the professional side, this announcement didn’t get the same support. First, multiple media outlets around the world hinted that the group would finally disband, prompting the company HYBE, under which BTS is developing, to make a quick update when its stock market started falling. A few hours later, the leader of the RM group himself wrote a letter on the social network Weverse, in which he also extensively questioned the bad information published. “I had never received so many calls since the beginning of our career,” he initially commented. “When I looked at the titles and the screenshots sent to me, there were many provocations and deliberately chosen keywords (…). It’s not that we didn’t expect it, but it leaves a sour taste in my mouth,” he added, explaining that the video’s content was primarily made for her fans, who have been following her for almost 10 years .

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“In the interests of the Korean music industry”

This time on Wednesday, it was South Korea’s National Association of Singers who begged the group to “reconsider their decision,” ignoring their declarations or personal woes. President Lee Ja-yeon released an official statement, picked up by the Korea Times, in which she said she was “very concerned” that the Korean wave revolves around BTS, which is the strongest soft-power Cultural object in the country and China is the world to disappear.” “Maybe you made this decision after much thought, but could you reconsider it in the interest of the Korean music industry?” President Lee Ja-yeon went even further and took following the example of the group’s fans – who they regard as “missionaries of the South Korean culture wave” – ​​saying that ARMYs will also disappear.”The tourism industry will suffer and it will be difficult to hope for a future for South Korean culture,” added She then tackles the thorny issue of military service, which is mandatory for all men under 30 and which some believe may be one of the reasons for this split as a group e. While successive governments, from former President Moon Jae-in to new President Yoon Seok-youl, have never been able to resolve the issue of BTS’ military exemption, Lee Ja-yeon is calling for a change so that idols, such as athletes or classical musicians, can also be exempted will.

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This press release apparently did not fail to anger the fans, for whom the well-being of their favorite artists naturally comes first. On Twitter, the #BTSItsOkayToRest (“BTS, there’s nothing wrong with resting”) hashtag was the hot topic of the day. The reaction is all the more virulent because the South Korean music industry did not give the group a gift from a label that was once without money and power in its early days. “So this industry, which never supported them and did everything they could to make them fail, now has demands? Leave them alone, they owe you absolutely nothing”, “How daring after the way the media and industry have treated them for years”, “You can’t change what the rest of the world thinks but as ARMY you can We did have the power to stand up for what BTS wants and they passed that on to us. No one will force them to end their break quickly. You deserve to be happy and rest.” “Asking BTS to come back out of love or admiration is very different than asking them to come back to save a declining market. You don’t have to worry about how to feed your wife and eight children,” we can read in particular.

“What BTS is doing in sharing their exhaustion will legitimize that discomfort”

The Association of Singers’ statement echoes comments made by RM — Kim Namjoon’s real name — who, in last week’s famous video, explained with rare candor the ​​point at which the middle of K-pop “doesn’t exist, there is not time for artists to mature,” they are demanding more and more albums and content, even if it means losing their inspiration. “You always have to produce more music, always do something, and you don’t have time to grow,” he commented. In view of economic considerations, artistic and human sensitivity seems to be difficult to assert.

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Recall that in 2020, according to the Hyundai Research Institute, BTS allowed the country to earn $3.5 billion a year. The New York Times recalls that even during the pandemic that has devastated the concert industry, BTS has driven HYBE’s sales up 58%, according to the company’s 2021 year-end reports. 19, the country hoped to count on the resumption of the group’s concerts. The Korea Institute of Culture and Tourism predicted that a single BTS concert could gross $500 million or more. But for the seven members, the essence lies elsewhere. “It’s time for us to move beyond the spectacular side and think about the kind of message we want to send. (…) It’s time to focus on what I have on my hands and find the solution,” RM told Weverse magazine. By focusing on their well-being and mental health, members have already taken a step forward by opening a discussion that is still difficult in South Korea, especially in the music industry. “What BTS is doing in sharing their exhaustion will legitimize that discomfort for those afterward. They show that we have the right to be exhausted, that the value of the work is too high and even more so for the idols,” said Match Vincenzo Cicchelli, lecturer at the University of Paris-Descartes and researcher at Gemass, last week. “By making such statements, they have shown the limitations of the system and that will have a significant impact,” and a shame for those who would try to pressure them.

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