It is always wonderful to see the big and established media houses give attention to a band you admire and respect, especially when the band is non-English and comes from the stereotyped industry of K-Pop.
BTS (Bangtan Sonyeondan), the rapidly rising band in popularity and influence, was recently featured in the British The Times Magazine and it was certainly a big moment for the band and fans alike.
The Times is a fairly respectable and big publication that unlike the entertainment media houses, only features quality content. However, I might be changing that mentality after reading this weird and strange piece of write-up that baffled me as not only a fan but also a journalist/blogger myself.
The 7 member band BTS is currently on their world tour of Love Yourself and recently finished their American leg with an epic and historic performance at the iconic Citifield Stadium in New York.
They are the first K-pop group to ever perform there to a sold-out audience of almost 55,000 people.
Now they are in the UK finishing up performances in London and then moving onto other parts of Europe.
UK, for the most part, has always been a little closed off to non-English music, and while America has accepted and praised BTS a lot, UK was still to be won over.
Thus, you can understand how important The Times Magazine article was since a lot of the general population in London and other areas read it.
However, the article had a lot of errors that I was extremely puzzled by and wondered who exactly approved this article to go up in the first place. Let me take a look at a few of them here:
#1. Factual Errors
One of the first mistakes that jumped out to me and left me baffled as to how it was not corrected instantly would be the name of one of the K-pop idols mentioned in the article.
But last month, two stars, HyunA and K’Dawn, were indeed sacked by their agency after their relationship was exposed.
It is a journalistic rule to at the very least get the nouns, that is places, names and such always correct. It is an absolute no-no and an embarrassment on part of not just the writer but the editor too if such a mistake is overseen.
Here, the name of E’Dawn, a former member of the group Pentagon who was involved in the dating controversy is misspelled as K’Dawn. It not only is a grievous error, but also shows a certain lack of care since they are just K-pop idols, nobody really cares, right.
The second one is not exactly an error but more an assumption that could have easily been avoided had the writer taken the time to add a few words in between.
The Korean-American film director Joseph Kahn recently launched a Twitter assault on BTS for succumbing to pressure to have plastic surgery, a practice that appears to be near universal in K-pop, even for those in the prime of their youth.
Here, had the writer added just a word like ‘allegedly’, or ‘assumingly’ or any other such words before stating that BTS succumbed to plastic surgery, it would have portrayed a very different image.
Now, an average reader could get the impression that BTS have gotten cosmetic surgery done which is not something that has been proven till date.
When the boys dance in their T-shirts, there is never a glimpse of abs; there are leather trousers, but no crotch-grabbing or pelvis-grinding.
I can understand that you want to show how BTS are different and don’t use over-sexualising of their body to get attention, but I’m sorry… have you actually not seen even one of their performances or music videos?
If you had, you would have seen the sultry and sensual moves of ‘Blood, Sweat and Tears’, the abs reveal from No More Dream and more. Applauding them for not succumbing to cheap moves to get views is different, but completely overriding their sexuality and making them out to be some Ken dolls is totally different.
This year a fan petition was organised and questions were asked in parliament, proposing that the rules be changed so that BTS could be saved from this fate.
Again, the facts are distorted here making it seem like it was the fans who were asking for military exemption for BTS when in reality nothing of that sort happened. Instead, it was only the politicians who used BTS as an example to broaden the horizon for who gets exemption from the military. Along with that the authenticity of the petition actually being from BTS fans was also never proven. I have gone in detail about this issue in another one of my article here: Why Is The Korean Media Inaccurately Reporting That BTS’ Fans Want Military Exemption For The Band?
#2. Condescending Wording:
Another thing that was apparent from the beginning of the article itself, was a certain condescending vibe to the words.
From mocking RM’s (leader of BTS) English, by saying that,
He does indeed speak with impregnable confidence and faultless intonation, although (despite the claim of my fan guide that he has an IQ of 148) his occasionally baffling syntax gives the impression that he is channelling Joey rather than Chandler.
to not only targeting BTS, but also putting down the K-pop industry, and its artists.
This seemed to be changing in 2012, when Gangnam Style, the wacky viral video by a chubby South Korean rapper known as Psy
In this line here, the adjective ‘chubby’ is completely unnecessary and puts focus on his physical appearance instead of just addressing him as an artist.
They are a brand, a social-media identity and an ongoing reality show. No wonder their members don’t have time for girls.
This line also rubbed me the wrong way since it reduced all the achievement of BTS as artists and musicians to something akin to being a product.
Even now, the seven of them live in the same house (two of them still share a room),
A lot of fans took offence to the writer’s wordings and commented on the unprofessional article.
High time the English get their arrogance in order.
Image Credits: Google Images
Sources: The Times, South China Morning Post, AllKPop
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I totally agree … oh godd … this article was really helpful …
You who wrote this article is an army I bet you are amrymazable Jin dad jokes
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS ARTICLE! I can’t believe how much a Journal that is supposed to be qualitative has been so unprofessional! Especially given the number of ARMY! did they think it would go unnoticed!!! As for me they’ré canceled
I’ve been into BTS for like a month and a half but i’ve consummed an unhealthy amount of mv’s, songs, shows, compilations, tweets, and have received way too much cringe from the fandom – but it’s like any fandom, so this latter doesn’t matter. I’m 16, graduating from high school in a few weeks – therefore definitely in their targeted demographics, and definitely Taehyung-biased if you actually give a fuck. Anyway, let’s move to my opinion on both articles – the time’s and yours.
Put aside the misspelling of the others kpop idol mentionned, which is a bit of nitpicking at this point ( I’d have understood if they had misspelt one of the member’s name though ), I honestly felt like this article was refreshing. Their words on the awful kpop industry are right, but it’s not a surprise to a lot, I hope so at least. And your point on the surgery thing is funny to me – yeah, they imply they have gotten surgery. Because to different extents, all of them have. From Seokjin and Taehyung looking like the most natural despite just some fillers from times to times, to Hoseok and Jimin who’ve done a pretty terrible amount of procedures, all of them have ( mostly after their debut because their agency was broke but you probably know it if you’re reading all of this anyway ), sorry to break it to you.
Namjoon’s english is far from perfect ( neither is mine, I’m not a native either, but let’s be objective here ), so compared to the constant praising of his skills which is sometimes exaggerated, it kinda balances, the phrasing is definitely condescending but the man’s 26 ( was 24 at the time but hasn’t improved in english ) and definitely isn’t fluent, I’m sure he can take criticism. He’s good, but again, how could one learn perfect english by simply watching a show over and over. They’ll miss words, concepts, topics because they’re not mentionned in it, and it will show later when they put their knowledge into application.
What they pointed out in the ” knowing their personality ” section is kinda right as well, as much as it could hurt hardcore fans feelings – and it seems like it indeed did – they’re grown men, and information about their favorite colours, foods, animals just feels kinda pathetic. I don’t know how to phrase it correctly, but it’s the same awful feeling that I have when I watch run bts. Infantilisation, something disturbing I can not put my finger on but which is definitely here.
The emphasis put on the fact that they’re single through the whole article isn’t wrong to me – I won’t get into how they actually date, get laid and all like normal men in their 20’s, despite how BigHit tries to conceal it and how for some reason most fans eat it up. They’re famous, good looking, and living their last years of true youth, how do you not expect anybody with an unbiased point of view to be shocked when they’re told that these men aren’t in relationships and supposedly haven’t been for at the time 6 years and now 8 ( especially with Jungkook debuting at fucking 15 and becoming a trainee at 13 ). It would be desolating if it was true.
Idols are not who they are, it’s their job. They’re not considered as human by their agency but as some commercial value, if they weren’t solely viewed this way in the first place. It’s a heavily, unhealthily overwhelming job, but it’s not their identity. That’s what they’ve highlighted in the article, and the image of disturbing cuteness they’ve been attributed and the constant exaggerated praise from the fandom are what is criticized here, not the seven men in themselves. This article is objective compared to many and some harsh words are sometimes needed to break some fan’s delusions. But the deeper the latter, the tougher the ice is to break I guess. The word I’d use to describe it again is refreshing. Because the praise about them being so genuine and their lyrics being so deep and thoughtful definitely is annoying and more or less wrong. The members, between pressure, media, sasaengs, and sometimes own obsession with being perfect ( Jungkook who’s collapsed at concert and needed oxygen countless amount of time because of overworking himself and Jimin’s saddening unhealthy eating habits – an ED to me, but I don’t know enough to call it so ), don’t have it easy. They’re not babies, or cute balls of fluff who love their army so much or some other bs. They’re human, they have their korean & japanese fans, the rest are numbers. I don’t think a human brain is made to process how that amount of fame actually is. The analogy to the overworked salary man isn’t that wrong – despite how much they earn compared to that latter haha.
The journalist definitely seems to like Yoongi a lot, it’s kinda cute. I liked the end of the article, how it’s phrased. It’s just sad, how much people are willing to give for some people they’ll never talk to – or if they do, for a minute or so, and will get forgotten later anyway. It’s hard to believe in the end after watching so much content from them, but they’ll be always considered as product and act that way, briefly incorporating their own nature in the guidelines they’re given.
So yeah, to conclude, I appreciate BTS’s music ( even though it’s in my opinion really declining since 2018, I really don’t like Boys with Luv, Dynamite, and don’t get me started on Butter. These songs feel so hollow it hurts ), especially War of Hormone, Coffee, Boy in Luv, Save Me, Not Today, Spring Day. Why do I appreciate these in particular ? The visuals of the MV’s, the music in itself and in some cases, the lyrics as well. Everything’s polished, so neatly polished you can’t feel like it’s genuine anymore, but can still appreciate it nonetheless. There was also a soul that’s been off since Mic Drop in my opinion, can’t really put my finger on it, which was again the glimpses of their selves we could have through the heavy filter imposed by the kpop industry, I suppose. But everything surrounding it – sasaengs, army’s, anti’s, numbers, marketing, shows, promotions… is like a heavy buzzing that will give you a migraine if you focus on it, but is always here in the background. Like a bee swarm surrounding a glass bubble. This article definitely didn’t not criticized the seven humans, but the image that’s given of themselves.
Which is why I defined it as refreshing, considering the rare amount of articles that have a balance between feet kissing and straight up racism, homophobia when it comes to BTS. Praise and criticism, like anything in this world deserves. Condescending ? Yes, as it should be, towards the industry. Factually incorrect ? Apart from a one letter spelling mistake, I don’t see anything wrong.