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BTS caves in to the pressures of the K-pop industry

The seven members of the famous K-pop group, BTS, are taking a break to recover from burnout and to explore solo careers 

Members of the K-pop boy band BTS. Photo: Reuters
Members of the K-pop boy band BTS. Photo: Reuters (REUTERS)

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K-pop megastars BTS told fans, in an emotional video appearance, that they were taking a break from the supergroup to focus on their solo careers, citing exhaustion and the pressures of success. As the share price of HYBE, the label of the seven-member band, went into a freefall after the announcement, the musicians clarified that they would still be working together.

BTS is credited with generating billions of dollars for the South Korean economy. However, the band took its fans by surprise when the members stated they needed time apart. “We’re going into an off phase now,” said Suga, 29, in a video, which was posted on the group’s official YouTube channel. RM, 27, added that they were “exhausted” and that they “didn’t know what kind of group we were anymore” . 

The clip included English subtitles, which used the word “hiatus”, but HYBE quickly clarified that group activities will not be suspended. “They will be doing team and individual projects simultaneously,” stated a representative for the label, whose share price was down 27 percent early Wednesday.

Also read: BTS army and the joys of being part of a fandom

According to RM, the problem with K-pop and the whole idol system is that they don’t give you time to mature. “Somehow, it’s become my job to be a rapping machine,” he stated. “I wanted to shed that for a little bit, but the world wouldn’t let me be.” Jimin concurred, while adding that the various members are trying to find their identity, and that’s a long and exhausting process. 

By the end of the video, several of the members of the group behind hits like Dynamite and Butter had grown tearful as they voiced gratitude for their supporters, a fandom known online as the “ARMY”. “I hope you don’t see this is a negative thing,” J-Hope, 28, implored fans. “And see that it’s a healthy plan.” Jungkook, 24, promised to return someday, “even more mature than we are now”. The fans appreciated the band’s honesty, and could relate to the feelings of exhaustion and burn out.

This news comes just days after the group released Proof, an anthology album that included a new single, Yet To Come (The Most Beautiful Moment). BTS’s label enjoyed a surge in profits despite holding fewer concerts during the pandemic. But their messaging around the band’s next steps was “confusing” and “not clear”, says Lee Moon-won, a K-pop culture commentator. “It appears what they meant is BTS will continue their ‘supplementary’ group activities (such as on YouTube) while pursuing solo careers. It would have been more appropriate had the label first issued a statement clearly detailing what it would mean.”

Also read: Grammys 2021: Beyoncé leads with 9 nods, BTS earns the first for a K-pop band


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