Yoongi and the Dodgers posts shed light on BTS’s power as a force for social change

By Nadine Kam I

The central idea behind Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Batman trilogy is that the Batman exists as a symbol of hope that allows people to wake up every morning in hope that today will be a little better, a little safer than yesterday. Symbols/ideas are important because they live on beyond an individual’s lifespan and transcend geography.

In the music world, BTS was created by Bang Si-hyuk, also known as “Hitman” Bang or PD Nim, to fulfill that need.

That might sound like hyperbole, but consider that Bang, who got his start within the idol-making machine, wanted to fix what he thought was wrong with K-pop. That is, the industry is built on blank slate talents that can adapt to any music trend, whether they like it or not, to serve the need of their puppet-master producers. The result is “artists” that have no control over the style or message of their music.

Bang worked as a songwriter and producer with one of the Big Three companies, JYP, until 2005. He was disillusioned by the lack of personal expression in the music and set out to establish a different kind of company, one willing to support individuals who could express themselves through their art and storytelling. This was the root of Big Hit Entertainment.

In 2010, he began to assemble a rap group reflecting youthful resilience, that he named Bulletproof Boy Scouts to express toughness needed to navigate modern life, along with strong moral character to be a source of sincerity and goodness lacking in public figures ranging from entertainers to politicians. In interviews, he said he thought of BTS as sympathetic role models or heroes for fans who don’t need someone dogmatically preaching at them from above, but is peer who shares similar trials and anxieties, who can empathize and offer words of support.

As underdogs in an industry that did not receive them well, BTS members did not shy from speaking their minds in songs ranging from “Not Today” to “Dope.” They spoke up for a generation that feels powerless in society, reflecting on a wide range of issues, from job insecurity to prejudice and human rights.

Even so, it was still hard for me to imagine BTS as a significant force for greater good. That is probably the cynical journalist in me, thinking that the world is doomed by a larger population of haters and bigots, who are fearful and close-minded, and don’t hesitate to drown out any voice of reason.

But what changed my mind about social change being possible for the next generation is the online exchange that followed Suga’s (Min Yoon-gi) appearance at a Los Angeles Dodgers game, while he was in town for concerts, to support South Korean pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu. The Dodgers posted a series of pictures of Suga at the game, that were picked up by ESPN’s social media channels. Harmless sharing, right?

But some sports fans responded with racist, sexist, xenophobic comments such as “Americans don’t like that crap, except pre teen girls,” and, “JUST Another rich Chinese kid,” which set Army into caption to shut down the haters.

I was heartened that Army, once again, was there to take a stand against the haters accustomed to drowning out other voices by sheer show of force and puffery. Clearly, BTS’s message is getting through to the 94,000 who appeared on ESPN’s Twitter page in defense of Suga, with messages like this one from @taeyeol_bts: “Bts teach to love yourself and accept yourself whatever you are. (Haters) please learn to respect and love yourself first. Then you can love and respect other people! I am Army who loves bts with all my heart. I’m proud of BTS.”

I’m proud of Army fighting hate by spreading BTS’s message of love and acceptance.

First member of Big Hit’s new group TXT revealed

By Nadine Kam I

In my previous post, I mentioned the excitement over Big Hit Entertainment’s plans to launch a new boy band, building on the success of BTS.

While I expected a spring music launch, it looks like the company will be gradually introducing TXT, short for Tomorrow X Together, members one at a time over the course of weeks.

The first to be being revealed one at a time, starting with eldest member Yeonjun, 19, first to be officially introduced on Jan. 11.

The philosophy behind the group’s formation is described as “You and I, different but together. We explore one dream.”

Yeonjun, the first of Big Hit’s new boy band to be revealed,
is being described as a great dancer.

If it’s one thing Big Hit has learned with BTS, it’s that fans are looking for connection and being part of something bigger than themselves. BTS has always practiced inclusiveness, talking about their ARMY fandom, giving credit to fans for helping them achieve success, and addressing ARMY through their social feeds.

BTS and ARMY share one dream of the group’s success, mutual happiness and helping others, and they are accomplishing it together. It is something that evolved over time, but Big Hit seems to be making that level of inclusiveness and fan involvement part of TXT’s DNA.

Here’s an introductory video to Yeonjun:

Debuts add excitement to 2019

By Nadine Kam

2019 already got off to a good start with BTS Jimin’s release of his solo song “Promise” on New Year’s Eve in South Korea.

Given BTS’s success over the past year, the most awaited debut will be that of their parent company Big Hit Entertainment’s new boy group. Though Big Hit is not leaking any information about the group’s members, stalkers have kept an eye on the coming and going of potential members outside of the company’s headquarters and posted their videos to YouTube. The image at top allegedly shows some of the mystery members, said to have an average age of 17. The group is rumored to be debuting in March.

Also, with YG Entetainment’s broadcast of its “YG Treasure Box” series (10 p.m. Friday nights KST on Naver’s V Live, and again two hours later at midnight on YouTube) on the making of its next boy band from its “treasure box” of trainees, you can expect them to strike while interest is high and debut said band.

It’s anyone’s guess which of 29 hopefuls in “YG Treasure Box” will become the ones to debut as part of YG Entertainment’s next boy band. Here, three who initially made the band are being put to the test by challengers for their spots.

Along with debuts will come goodbyes in 2019.

Most prominent was the Dec. 31, 2018, disbandment of Wanna One, another group formed through a broadcast competition.

The group debuted in August 2017 following selection during the music survival show “Produce 101,” Season 2, reached the end of their contracts and although they were very popular and racked up 43 Korean and international awards and 49 Korean music program awards in its brief tenure, there was no plan by management company Swing Entertainment to renew their contract.

Fans will miss Wanna One after spring, but due to the group’s success over the year, individual members have plenty of prospects going forward.

With awards season continuing through spring, however, Wanna One will attend the award shows and will stage finale concerts in Seoul Jan. 24 through 27.

Although the disbandment was sad, given that they ended their year’s run on top of charts, the future looks bright. Although fans will miss them as a unit, it’s hard to feel sad for the individual members who will reap a small fortune from their year’s work. In that time, the group generated nearly 80 billion won (USD $71 million) in revenue since debut, with 44 billion won net profit, according to Sports Seoul, and each group member will walk away with a share in the income.

Here’s a look at some of their current plans:

Yoon Ji-sung: The group’s oldest member is slated to release a solo album on Feb. 20 February. He will also be starring in the musical, “The Days,” before enlisting in the South Korean military this spring.

Kang Daniel: Signed to the same agency as Yoon Ji-sung, he is planning to release solo music, although no details are available. He recently opened his own Instagram account to keep fans updated and picked up 1 million followers within 12 hours.

Kim Jae-hwan: He is said to be writing his own music with a solo career in mind.

Hwang Min Hyun: The former NU’EST member will be rejoining his former group under the Pledis Entertainment banner.

Lee Dae Hwi and Park Woo Jin: Have been signed by Brand New Music and will be making their debut in a group alongside MXM’s Lim Young Min and Kim Dong Hyun. The group’s lineup is still being finalized, but an April or May debut is expected.

Ha Sung Woon: Signed with Star Crew Entertainment. It is unclear whether he will be going solo or returning to his former band HOTSHOT.

Ong Seong-wu: Is exploring a future in acting and is reported to be joining a JTBC drama series.

Lai Kuan-Lin: Will be filming another reality TV show, then taking a role in a Chinese TV drama series.

Park Ji-hoon: Has also been offered acting roles but is currently considering his options as he also plans to continue singing, according to Maroo Entertaintment.

Bae Jinyoung: Will focus on acting, as well as forming another music team.

Due to contracts coming to an end in 2019, some groups that may come to an end this year due to relations with their companies or loss of members include B.A.P., AOA, Mr Mr, Cross Gene, BIGSTAR and 24K.

Other contracts coming to an end include that of Vixx and NU’EST, but with Hwang Min Hyun rejoining his former band, they are likely to continue with renewed energy.