The Exciting and Colorful K-life as an ARMY

  • By Ming Lagman, OT7 ARMY, Ultimate bias: RM aka Kim Namjoon

I’ve been an ARMY for a little over a year now and, after just a short amount of time, I’ve questioned how I lived my life for so long without having known Bangtan Sonyeondan (BTS).

My becoming an ARMY wasn’t all thanks to a “they” but only one person: my little sister – the OG K-pop fan in the family and now, my sister in ARMY, too. Before, I was more of a casual fan, having only truly listened to second-generation groups like 2NE1, Girls’ Generation, and Super Junior before stepping away from the scene because of social discrimination that existed then. A time before BTS and other revolutionary artists came into the picture. A time that, thankfully, feels so far away from this K-life I live now thanks also to BTS.

Me and my sister, posing for a quick selca, while we excitedly wait for day one of the Map of the Soul ON:E concert to start last October 10, 2020.

The Call of Pied Piper

‘Pied Piper’ Hangul and English lyrics provided by Genius

I don’t know how similar my journey as an ARMY is with others, but as far as I can recall, it all started out with one specific member capturing my attention and affection. In my case, it was the best leader Kim Namjoon (RM) who did it for me. Because who wouldn’t stan RM, given his – as the members put it – ‘sexy brain, and his passionate pursuit for the concept of loving one’s self?

After that, all there was for me to do was to follow the breadcrumbs or, as they say in their song, “follow the sound of the pipe, follow this song.” From just casually scrolling through updates on stan and main social media accounts, I began exploring a whole world of content from BTS. Props to my hard-working mobile data for supporting my excursions through thousands of YouTube videos, BTS Gayo and Run! BTS, Bon Voyage, and In the Soop episodes, old Vlive sessions and, of course, music streaming apps so I can blast their songs on any day, for every mood. To say the least, I came out of that rabbit hole as a not-so-casual fan.

Sadly, RM’s first mixtape ‘RM’ and a lot of other work with and outside of BTS are not available on Spotify. For more of his work as a solo artist, BTS’s main rapper, and other songs and covers by RM, you can check out BTS on SoundCloud.

Inevitably, all that time I invested going through all of that content made this baby ARMY even more emotionally invested in this musical sensation from Korea than I had imagined. RM was, as it seems, only the hook and what reeled me in was all of the members and what BTS stands for, as an entire group.

But yes, RM still holds a special place in the heart of this fan, and nope, this playlist is not me compiling all of RM’s self-produced tracks, collabs, and music written for and with BTS.

Welcome to the Magic Shop

‘Magic Shop’ Hangul and English lyrics provided by Genius

For me, the most endearing thing about RM and the reason why I strived to get to know the rest of the members better, is because he talks about them so proudly and with so much love. What’s even more wonderful is that BTS isn’t a group that falls short of regarding each one appreciatively.

After all the merch has been purchased, and the content has been combed through, I’ve discovered that I’m not just here for the sickening sounds and the “looks” of the boys.

I’m here because I’ve found a warm and reliable friend in each of them. There’s Jin who I’d mostly likely have a good laugh with or trash-talk while playing video games. For a gloomy day, I’ll look to J-hope for a smile that will instantly brighten up my mood. V would be someone I’d go on photo walks with. Jimin, a thoughtful confidant. Jungkook, a motivating workout buddy. Suga, a pragmatic co-debater. More than the music and inspired content, the appreciation for their work and the members and who they are as people is what I and – I would like to believe – many others are here in this fandom for.

The fact that their message – be it through their songs, speeches, or any profile or unprejudiced feature – has translated into real-world acts of kindness from the fandom is the biggest proof of that. Though the fandom isn’t a perfect one, on the best days it affects positive change and amplifies messages of love and acceptance constantly asserted by BTS.

One day, we’re bopping to ‘Dynamite’, crying to ‘Life Goes On’, or losing our minds over blonde Jungkook and bufftan, and on another, we’re supporting causes of massive social concern. We’re full-time members of a socially responsible youth community (part-time BTS simps, really).

These changes and healing inspired by messages of love, for me, is the highlight of this K-life as an ARMY. That the BTS members are all ridiculously good-looking and produce quality content – music and all – is just the cherry on top of this delightful hallyu sundae.