Interview: BTS

Client: The Guardian (2018)

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BTS arrive for their first ever UK shows by private jet. They have been using it on the US leg of their world tour, which culminated in a show to 40,000 people at New York’s Citi Field on 6 October, three days before playing to as many people again across two nights at the O2 Arena in London. They have racked up two US No 1 albums and billions of global streams, and were recently invited to the UN as Unicef ambassadors, where their charismatic leader, RM, made a speech, in English, on self-acceptance. Milestones such as these are monumental for any artist, but in reaching them BTS – rappers Suga, RM and J-hope and vocalists Jimin, V, Jin and Jungkook – have changed the face of pop, as the first Korean group to reach the upper echelons of the western music industry.

 

Ethereal-looking Jimin broke down at the end of the Citi Field show. The band have played similar-sized shows in other countries, but the US has always been the final frontier for K-pop – a market that has been attempted many times with only minor successes by acts such as Big Bang, EXO, and 2NE1’s CL. “We feel it all the time,” says Jimin. “On this tour we played some very large venues, and it makes us see that people really love us. Being inundated by all these emotions, it kind of got to me.”

 

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