In light of BTS’s upcoming performance at the AMAs, I wanted to delve into some serious stuff regarding Kpop and how we, as Americans and Westerners, consume it.
Does Western success matter?
The short answer? No. It doesn’t. BTS is incredibly successful in their own right in their own country. They haven’t had any releases in English nor have they particularly marketed themselves for an American audience, yet they hold success here because of the devotion of ARMYs. But ultimately, they do not have to cater to us to make money. The fact of the matter is that we are not their target audience and they don’t owe us anything. So they can continue to make music in Korean in South Korea–and we can continue listening to it! But they don’t have to change just because we’re a part of their market now. They’ll probably be advised to do so throughout their career and I’m thankful they don’t buy into it, because they’re already doing incredibly well being exactly who they are.
What we have to do as American ARMYs
Listen. I’m gonna get straight to the point–stay in your lane. Don’t ask the boys to speak English. Don’t insist that they come to your state. Don’t scream at them obscene things that make us all look bad for the LOVE OF GOD DO NOT STALK THEM. I feel like none of these things should be an issue. And yet here we are.
As BTS prepares to go through a barrage of promotions that will, hopefully, go well but will also probably put them through uncomfortable situations with people who will assume not speaking English equals stupid, I want to make clear that a real ARMY respects BTS and respecting them means understanding the boundaries that separate us. I know as ARMYs we wish that there was nothing between us and the boys but the fact of the matter is that even aside from distance that exists between a celebrity and a fan, there is a distance between BTS as Korean artists and us as American ARMYs. It’s not malicious and it’s not even a negative a thing, we just have to accept that we are guests in a culture and in a music that isn’t ours and we have to be willing to be understanding and mindful of how we behave.
I am so proud and excited to see BTS flourish in America and I hope this leads to bigger and better things, but I am also just grateful for what they’ve done so far. I know that a large part of why they bother to come back to the US is because of American ARMYs and I’m thankful they care so much about us.
But honestly I’m just happy to see them at all. When I discovered BTS they were still riding off the high of their first couple of wins and they were really finding themselves as artists with The Most Beautiful Moment in Life series and if their success had only ever blown up in Korea and they didn’t do multiple world tours, I would still love them just the same.