By Jay Ledesma

BTS Phenomena: Beyond culture, language, nationality 

WHAT is this craze sweeping people across the globe? It’s COVID?! It’s the vaccine?! No...It’s BTS!

For those of you who have not been bitten by the BTS bug, BTS (Bangtan Sonyeonda) is a group of 7 Korean boys and is now considered to be the most popular boy band in the world.

I learned about BTS from my daughter Abbie, who is an avid fan. Ever since she got hooked last year, BTS is her daily dose of the booster. At first, I frowned at her being a fanatic. How can you be a fan when you cannot even understand their songs which as expected are mostly in Korean? 

And then I learned that a number of local and foreign celebrities and even some of my friends and colleagues are also into this BTS craze. Their fans club, called ARMY, has millions of members of different nationalities, languages, and age groups. To top it all, the Korean government is said to have amended a law allowing their globally K-pop artists to defer their mandatory military service to age 30 (it was 28 before). This came at a time when BTS's oldest member (Jin, 28) is nearing the service. Now, they really must be something! 

I got interested and started joining my daughter on her nightly date with this boy band. I wanted to find out what’s drawing these people to this Korean boy band. Soon, I realized and understand why BTS is the phenomenon that it is. And learned a thing or two. 

The message of their songs is universal. (I watch their videos with the English translation so I can understand). Their songs reflect the sentiments and issues of the youth, which is the majority of their fan base. The ARMY can easily relate to their songs because they express the thoughts and feelings that they themselves want to communicate but cannot. They are singing the songs of their fans! 

My Take: We can use our talents, position, and popularity to be the voice of those who cannot and do not have the means to speak for themselves. 

Their songs are not only relatable but they also talk about positive and good vibes. In the midst of self-doubts, bullying, discrimination, and depression, their songs convey messages of hope, self-love, fighting on, chasing dreams, etc. which help their fans cope up and be hopeful during their own trying times. Their music accompanied and provided their legion of fans that much-needed inspiration and optimism during this pandemic. 

My Take: We can always choose to be the source of love, hope, and anything positive to others. 

They are disciplined and professional. They are not a product of any reality contest. They did not just win any contest and instantly thrown into the limelight. They are a product of years of training, practice, and more training and practice. Their professionalism is lauded by the people who have worked with them. They are admired because of their synchronized moves. Their level of performance has remained consistent through the years. This can only be achieved through countless hours of practice. 

My Take: There is no shortcut to true and lasting success! It can only be achieved through hard work, perseverance, and discipline. 

They always give outstanding and superb performance. Their passion and energy on stage is really contagious and their routines and steps are “buwis buhay”(risky). They literally “drop dead” after each performance. Many times, they have injured or hurt themselves while performing. They always offer something new. Never mind if they have performed a number several times, each time seems new and different. As they said in one of their interviews, “Giving our best in every performance is our way to show our appreciation and respect to ARMY”.

I know when I get the chance to watch their live concert, I will never get the feeling that I was shortchanged. 

My Take: Give your damn best in whatever you do, regardless of what that may be! We owe it to the people we work for and work with. 

They remained like ordinary boys.

No doubt, they are the biggest boy band of their generation. But they managed to stay humble and down to earth. They have received all forms of recognition and adulation but they still get emotional (they cry) and are still overwhelmed by the outpouring of ARMY’s support and admiration. They have this regular BTS documentary where you see them away from the spotlight and doing their daily stuff. They are just like any other regular boys. They play, have fun and just be themselves. There’s no air of arrogance, no prima donna, no scene stealers among them.  

My Take: Always be grounded and in touch with your true self. Don’t let success and accolades blind you to the reality and of what matters most. 

They have an excellent Management team. While these 7 boys deliver the performance on stage, several men and women are working behind the scenes to make sure that everything is perfect. From the props, stage concept and designs, costumes, choreography to marketing paraphernalia, merchandising, and promotional gimmicks, their management team really knows what they’re doing and how to do it A-1. 

My Take: Success is not the work of one person, not even of 7 people, in the case of BTS. It’s a team effort...it’s Teamwork! Many are involved in what you have achieved, be always grateful! 

And last but not the least, these 7 boys (Jin, V, Jungkook, Jimin, RM, J-Hope and Suga) are simply adorable and charming. Though they are in their 20’s already, they look so boyish. No wonder they appealed also to those in the higher age bracket. They are the sons and nephews that moms and Titas (that now includes me) love and are fond of. 

Their fashion and style are unique and refreshing. They are not afraid to experiment. Not all male artists can wear and pull off those colored printed suits, or those ruffled and flowery tops, or those silky robes. But these good-looking boys can wear them with flair. And their fandom loves it! 

My Take: Dare to be different...Express your individuality...Explore new things! Don't be limited and dictated by the norms and by expectations. 

This article is a departure from my usual beat. Some may even be shocked that am writing about this boy band. But I deem it worthy to write about BTS because I believe we can learn something from them.

Let’s be mindful, as BTS has clearly shown us, that we need not be of the same nationality and culture or speak the same language to influence, give happiness and make a difference in others’ lives. These 7 Korean boys, who can hardly speak the English language, are one of them, if not, the biggest influencers of today. 

You have to watch and experience them to understand the BTS phenomenon. 


About the Columnist

Image of Jay Ledesma

Ms. Jay Ledesma writes about local tourism and business bits that delve on investments and insurance.