By Moumita Sultana Hema
News about the global super group Bangtan Sonyeondan (BTS) and their upcoming enlistment for mandatory military service made waves around the world, spurring the entire spectrum of reactions, and fueling speculations about what this means for the Kpop industry as a whole. One big question being asked is what happens to the space created by the seven young men as they step out of the limelight for a while
Is BTS serving in a country’s military and performing a national duty so difficult for people to digest that they jump onto the search for the next BTS?
Ever since the announcement of BTS taking a break from group activities until 2025 to serve in the military came out, people all over the world have started speculating multiple scenarios. Although the band held a free concert in Busan gathering 50 thousand attendees and over 49 million viewers on the live streams just two days before this announcement came in, they are dogged by the assumption that this is end of BTS.
However, the fans who have closely followed and grown up with BTS’s journey over the years, have known about South Korea’s mandatory military enlistment for a long while. So, they know what they are in for. They know that one era has ended because the beginning of another era is ‘Yet To Come’.
Are their careers really ending though?
The answer would be no. Of course, the fans are sad, but more than that, they are proud. We will definitely miss the eldest member Kim Seokjin, more popularly known as Jin, who has just released his solo song The Astronaut in collaboration with Coldplay and is set to join the military after the promotions of this release later this year. Meanwhile Kim Namjoon, popularly known as RM, will be one of the hosts on the new season of TVN’s The Mysterious Dictionary of Useless Human Knowledge.
This is not the beginning of the breakup speculations. When the group announced in June that they would be taking a break, many media outlets chose to interpret it as BTS disbanding and going on a hiatus. What happened in reality was a steady stream of solo content – from J-Hope releasing his album Jack in the Box, to Jung Kook’s collaboration with Charlie Puth, Suga’s with Samsung, RM with Balming Tiger, to J-Hope again with Crush, with more slated to follow. The group’s legions of fans, popularly known as ARMY, have not suffered from lack of BTS content to enjoy.
Now, projects make it to award nominations and this year’s MAMA (formerly Mnet Asian Music Awards) nominations list was telling. BTS has been dominating these awards shows for the past few years, but to see this year’s fight for awards as BTS vs BTS was a surprise. BTS members have been nominated for both their individual and group projects in multiple categories, so the competition is mostly amongst themselves in the MAMA 2022. The categories include – Artist of the Year, Song of the Year, Best OST, and Best Collaborations.
Fans were outraged when Billboard announced a new award show called The-K Billboard Awards in which they’re only seeking the next BTS. A statement read, “This is part of our mission to find the next BTS. We will not limit our nominees to the festival attendees. Instead, we will strictly adhere to Billboard’s points system and honour winners visiting their studios if necessary,”
The Bangtan Boys’ impact has been incredible, and I feel it is unstoppable! Realistically speaking, there might not be another K-Pop group that can compete with them in the multiple areas they have expertise. This is why the fandom responded angrily when they learned that Billboard was looking for “the next BTS” with their new awards.
“To be honest, I don’t think there is anything such as the next BTS or the next someone. When we first started doing music, we all had this dream of becoming the ‘next someone’ as well. In the end, though, we didn’t become the next someone. We became BTS. I don’t believe anyone will become the ‘next BTS’. I believe there will be more awesome K-pop stars in the future.”
Min Yoongi (Suga)
It is not a new thing for Western companies to use the name BTS to leverage traffic on their sites, and after changing the voting methods multiple times in order to restrict BTS from reaching the top, Billboard has kept making history.
Personally, I feel this comparison is not just offensive to BTS, but also to the new K-Pop groups that are tirelessly working to establish a name of their own. Moreover, BTS is still alive, scooping up awards, selling out concerts, actively producing new songs, hosting shows, and releasing many more exciting projects! So this search for the next BTS should stop.
Lastly, the news of BTS Military enlistment has given me a new goal of becoming better (and richer) so I can at least afford to watch them online, legally!