BTS diversity image

Popular K-pop band BTS is loved by many fans all over the world, including students at Iowa State. 

No other boyband dared to challenge the Beatles’ 22-year record for most No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200 within a year — except for BTS.  

The seven-member South Korean boy group BTS, equipped with numerous broken world records, concreted many firsts for a Korean act, including first to present and perform at the Grammys, to have certified gold albums, to seize awards at U.S. shows and to speak at the U.N. 

Starting out as a musical group from a small company, BTS later expanded into humanitarian work and helped spread Korean culture awareness. The boyband's growth in popularity and coverage received worldwide attention and, especially in the U.S., set a stage for Asian representation in the media.  

“They’ve broken so many achievements that minority groups aren’t able to … and not even in their native language,” said Janiely Vazquez, a sophomore in English. “… This is extremely important for Asian representation because there’s a lack of it.”

Vazquez continued to say BTS broke records and resonated with people who aren’t even familiar with Korean. 

“Music transcends language,” Vazquez said.  

BTS’ music — which is produced and written by the members — explores the concept of self-love, with many songs philosophizing the importance of discovery and reflection and how to overcome struggles that lace alongside it. 

“We wanted to be a method of help for the world,” BTS leader RM said in an interview with Grammy Museum Artistic Director Scott Goldman. 

Many of their fans (known as ARMYs) use their music as a healing mechanism. 

“BTS showed me it’s okay to be Asian," said Isaiah Arabe, a sophomore in civil engineering. "In high school, people always rejected me because I was Asian. I thought it was my fault being this way, but [BTS] told me how to love myself. That’s why their album is called 'Love Yourself.'"

Vazquez said BTS’ music has brought her a lot of comfort and has helped her see the world differently. She explained that BTS’ music has helped her realize she isn’t the only one with struggles. 

Many fans — or even casual listeners — attribute BTS’ uniqueness and popularity to the group’s talents, dedication and their ability to write meaningful messages coded in beats and lyrics. 

“They’re something different from what people are used to,” said Nguyetanh Deo, a freshman in apparel, merchandising and design. “They’re a group who are pretty good looking; they sing, dance, rap all at the same time. In America, there isn’t that type of musical group.” 

Valerie Rosales, a freshman in general preveterinary medicine, said she loves BTS because they’re transparent and connected with their fans. She said the members of BTS show their true self and that they have such an amazing story.

Many ARMYs agreed BTS’ hard work and passion for music paved the way for their representation in the media, from TV, newspaper and magazine coverages to landing movies about themselves. 

Apart from music, BTS also launched the Love Yourself campaign in joint with UNICEF to end child violence. 

They also contributed $4.65 billion to Korea’s gross domestic product, a part being from tourism, according to a 2018 report by the Hyundai Research Institute. Approximately 760,000 foreigners visit Korea annually because of BTS, the report also found. 

“They set an example for fans … I feel like their message is very important for people to look into," Rosales said. "… One of their biggest messages is to love yourself, which is what most people struggle with. I think it moved a lot of people.” 

BTS’ representation and influence even scored themselves a spot on Time magazine’s Time 100: The Most Influential People of 2019.

“Give BTS a chance and listen to their music without prejudice,” Vazquez said. “Stream Dynamite.” 

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