The bad news is K-pop stars BTS are breaking up. The good news is the breakup is only temporary.
An undefined time-out has been called to give the all-time kings of K-pop time to regroup and recharge batteries, their label, Big Hit Entertainment, announced Sunday on Twitter, just after the completion of a concert in the monsoon heat of steamy Seoul.
“We would like to announce that for the first time since their debut, BTS will be going on an official and extended period of rest and relaxation,” Big Hit wrote. The power break will provide “an opportunity for the members of BTS, who have relentlessly driven themselves towards their goal since their debut, to recharge and prepare to present themselves anew as musicians and creators.
“This will also provide them with a chance to enjoy the ordinary lives of young people in their 20s, albeit briefly.”
Conquering the world
Fat chance of that. The Bangtan Boys are now among the most recognizable “young people in their 20s” on earth, given their membership in what is arguably the world’s hottest idol band.
Since breaking out of the starter’s gate in 2013, BTS has charged forward in a thunderous gallop that has passed all the competition.
BTS has shattered the jinx that has bedeviled K-pop for decades – breaking into Western markets. Not only have they planted bums on millions of seats around the world, they have garnered a truck-load of awards, addressed the United Nations in New York and been on iconic US TV show Saturday Night Live in what was one of the most highly anticipated sets in the show’s illustrious musical history.
In sales terms, the “Super Seven” have earned legit comparisons with Brit-pop originals The Beatles, having become the first act to register three number one spots on the Billboard album chart since the Fab Four.
But their schedule has been tough.
In addition to blasting out double albums, crafting Oscar-worthy videos, performing high-energy live acts and grinding through the publicity work, they have kept faith with their voracious ARMY of fans by providing them with a constant stream of social media updates.
All this while maintaining their weapons-grade warbling skills and carefully choreographed dance moves. Astonishingly, some members have even – somehow – found time to undertake solo projects.
But while the lads are highly professional – they are nothing but perfectly presented, ever upbeat, jolly good fellows, 24/7, 365 days – the relentless exposure must, surely, have taken a toll, even on the all-conquering kings of K-pop.
ARMY salutes break
Given this, the BTS fandom – the ubiquitous “ARMY” – have applauded the news that the Bangtan Boys are taking some time off.
“Huhuhu, I’m so happy … for all of them that they deserved that vacation,” wrote one fan. Others urged fellow fans to give the vacationing superstars personal space. “Leave them alone … don’t make me fly to Korea to break your kneecaps if ya’ll do something stupid,” another fan tweeted.
While Big Hit did not say exactly how long BTS’s break would last, the Super Seven will be back in front of their adoring legion when they light up Saudi Arabia on October 11.
Big Hit can take a well-earned rest, too – and they may need one in order to count a mountainous heap of money.
While other Korean labels have been fighting desperate rearguard actions after a gang of high-profile K-popsters were netted in a sordid sex, drugs, rape and prostitution scandal centered around now-defunct Gangnam nightclub Burning Sun, Big Hit and their star act have remained well above the fray.
And with BTS staying squeaky clean, the money is flooding into their label’s coffers.
In June, Big Hit became, de facto, South Korea’s ninth unicorn – an unlisted company valued north of US$1 billion – according to Seoul brain trust the Hyundai Economic Research Institute.