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Getting re-acquainted with the BTS septet after a decade

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Boy band BTS [BIGHIT MUSIC]
Boy band BTS [BIGHIT MUSIC]

Over BTS’s 10-year groundbreaking career, the seven-member band has been acclaimed for countless achievements that allowed it, K-pop and Korea to open a new chapter in history.

But what has amazed industry insiders more is that, over this period, the group has not fallen prey to any of the major hiccups that are endemic in the K-pop industry. The members did not take a break from group activities or have internal conflicts, nor did they suffer from the so-called “7-year curse” that frequently ails K-pop artists as the standard 7-year contracts come to an end and bands practically dismantle.

In fact, the group was well-known for always acting together — whether for music or for a simple TV appearance. All seven members were seen together in pictorials, interviews, concerts and any other event held under the BTS name. It was only from June last year that individual members started their solo careers, mostly due to each of them having to start their military service at different times.

Each member has been applauded for their sincerity towards their music, career and fans, surprising market watchers with each new project they have undertaken that proves that BTS is not just the name of a band, but a part of all seven artists’ identity.

To celebrate the Bangtan boys’ decade of making history, the Korea JoongAng Daily takes a look at the individual feats of each member.
 

Jin of BTS [AP/YONHAP]
Jin of BTS [AP/YONHAP]

Jin

Jin (real name Kim Seok-jin) was born in Anyang, Gyeonggi on Dec. 4, 1992. He is the eldest member and sub-vocalist of BTS.

After participating in some K-drama soundtracks from 2016 onwards, Jin was the second BTS member to make his official solo debut, releasing the single “The Astronaut” in October 2022. The song instantly debuted at No. 51 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and made it onto Rolling Stone’s Top 100 Best Songs of 2022 list. With just one single, Jin became a million-seller soloist and was the fastest solo artist to reach that milestone.

In December 2022, he became the first BTS member to enlist for mandatory military service — an event that was the topic of national debate for years— and will serve in the Korean Army as an assistant drill instructor until June 2024.

Jin made his solo debut in October 2022. [BIGHIT MUSIC]
Jin made his solo debut in October 2022. [BIGHIT MUSIC]

* Jin initially wanted to be an actor and was pursuing a degree in acting at Konkuk University when he was recruited by Big Hit Entertainment, graduating in 2017.

* He has been a member of Unicef’s Honors Club since 2019, after donating over 100 million won ($76,570) to the organization.

* Since November 2022, Jin is the face of Korea’s instant noodle brand Jin Ramen. Not only do the singer and brand share the same name, Jin stated in a 2016 video that he wanted to land this role.
   

Suga of BTS [BIGHIT MUSIC]
Suga of BTS [BIGHIT MUSIC]

Suga

Born on March 9, 1993 in Daegu, Suga (real name Min Yun-ki) is the group’s lead rapper. He is also known as Agust D, his alias as a solo artist. Suga dropped his first mixtape under the Agust D moniker in 2016, but his official solo debut was the “D-DAY” album that dropped in April 2023.

Suga once said he auditioned for BigHit Music (then Big Hit Entertainment) to find work as a songwriter and producer. Although he ended up debuting as a K-pop idol, Suga is the prolific songwriter and producer behind many of BTS’s songs. He produced and was featured in pop star PSY’s 2022 song “That That,” as well as producing for artists including Suran, Heize, Epik High, IU and ØMI. With a total of 156 registered songs, Suga ranks ninth on the list of K-pop idols with the most copyrighted songs.

The singer has been on the road since April with “Suga Agust D Tour,” his solo worldwide outing which saw him perform in the United States, Indonesia, Japan, Thailand and Singapore. The tour will conclude in Seoul on June 25.

Suga in the music video for singer Psy's "That That" (2022). The song was produced by Suga and features his rap. [SCREEN CAPTURE]
Suga in the music video for singer Psy’s “That That” (2022). The song was produced by Suga and features his rap. [SCREEN CAPTURE]

* He started his own YouTube talk show “Suchwita” last December, which features prominent K-pop stars and actors as guests.

* Suga has been the global ambassador for the NBA and fashion house Valentino since early 2023.

* In June, Suga joined forces with American pop star Halsey to drop “Lilith,” a remake of her 2021 song, to celebrate the launch of online game “Diablo IV.”

J-Hope of BTS [BIGHIT MUSIC]
J-Hope of BTS [BIGHIT MUSIC]

J-Hope

Born on Feb. 18, 1994 in Gwangju, J-Hope (real name Jeong Ho-seok) is a sub-rapper and main dancer for BTS. He was the first member to officially launch a solo career with his album “Jack In The Box” in July 2022, shortly after the band announced its hiatus on group activities. The first solo album by a BTS member was received with great fervor; pre-release track ‘More” immediately topped the iTunes Top Songs chart in 84 regions globally, and the accompanying music video surpassed 10 million views in 10 hours.

Prior to this, J-Hope also dropped his mixtape “Hope World” (2018) and song “Chicken Noodle Soup” (2019) in collaboration with American pop star Becky G. His collaboration track “Rush Hour” (2022) with hip-hop artist Crush sparked a viral dance challenge on social media.

J-Hope currently ranks at 13th place on the list of K-pop idols with the most copyrighted songs, with 136 registered songs.

In April, J-Hope enlisted in the Korean Army for his mandatory military service. He will serve until October 2024 as an assistant drill instructor, following in bandmate Jin’s footsteps.

J-Hope performs at American music festival Lollapalooza in 2022. [BIGHIT MUSIC]
J-Hope performs at American music festival Lollapalooza in 2022. [BIGHIT MUSIC]

* A year before debuting as J-Hope, he was featured on singer Jo Kwon’s song “Animal” (2012) under his real name.

* In 2022, J-Hope became the first Korean artist to headline Lollapalooza, a major U.S. music festival.

* He is the global ambassador for fashion house Louis Vuitton.

RM of BTS [NEWS1]
RM of BTS [NEWS1]

RM

Born on Sept. 12, 1994 in Seoul, RM (real name Kim Nam-joon) is the group’s leader and main rapper. He changed his original alias, Rap Monster, to RM in May 2017 and the latter was also the title of his first mixtape released in 2015.

During his middle school years, he was active as an amateur rapper under the stage name Runch Randa, which is referred to in BTS’s 2013 song “We On.” Three years before officially debuting with BTS, he had a solo feature on singer Lim Jeong-hee s “Ashes” (2010) and boy band 2AM’s “Love U, Hate U” (2010) under the Bulletproof Boy Scouts moniker.

His first official solo album “Indigo” dropped in December 2022 and set many records; the album peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 200, the highest-ever position for a Korean soloist. He was also the first BTS member to enter the album chart’s Top 10 with a solo release.

RM is the K-pop idol with the second-most copyrighted songs, with 214 songs registered over the past decade. He has collaborated with numerous Korean and international artists including Tiger JK, Fall Out Boy and Lil Nas X.

He is known to be exceptionally well-spoken, often taking the lead whenever BTS makes public appearances and gives speeches; most notably at the United Nations in 2018 and during the conversation with U.S. President Joe Biden at the White House in 2022.

rmRM's first official solo album "Indigo" dropped last December. [BIGHIT MUSIC]
RM’s first official solo album “Indigo” dropped last December. [BIGHIT MUSIC]

* RM is known for his interest in art and is an avid art collector. He is often spotted at museums and art galleries, usually resulting in their exhibitions becoming sold out quickly.

* With a keen interest in traditional Korean heritage, RM has donated 100 million won to the Cultural Heritage Administration and the Overseas Korean Cultural Heritage Foundation two years in a row, and has also donated to the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art.

* RM is the honorary ambassador for the Defense Ministry’s Agency for KIA Recovery & Identification and a global ambassador for fashion house Bottega Veneta.

Jimin of BTS [NEWS1]
Jimin of BTS [NEWS1]

Jimin

Born on Oct. 13, 1995, in Busan, Jimin (real name Park Ji-min) is the main dancer and lead vocalist of the group, who is often in charge of key melodies and choruses in BTS’s songs. He was the last trainee to join BTS’s debut lineup after a training period of only six months, the shortest of all the members.

As a producer, Jimin took part in the creation of BTS’s B-side tracks, including “Boyz with Fun” (2015), “Lie” (2016) “Friends” (2020) and “Dis-ease” (2020). “Friends” was later used as part of the soundtrack for Marvel’s “Eternals” (2021), the first Korean-lyric song to be included in a Marvel movie.

His experience shone particularly brightly in his solo debut album “Face” (2023), where he participated in the composition and lyrics of all six tracks. “Face” dropped in March and sold over 1.45 million copies, setting a new record for most-sold album by a Korean soloist. The lead track “Like Crazy” entered the Billboard Hot 100 chart at No. 1, the first time a Korean soloist achieved the feat.

Shortly before that, he joined forces with Taeyang of boy band Big Bang to release the song “Vibe” (2023). The collaboration between Jimin and the veteran K-pop star garnered attention in and out of Korea, sparking the viral #Vibe challenge on social media.

As of 2023, Jimin is the global ambassador for luxury brands Dior and Tiffany & Co.

Concept photo for Jimin's "Face," his solo debut album released in March. [BIGHIT MUSIC]
Concept photo for Jimin’s “Face,” his solo debut album released in March. [BIGHIT MUSIC]

* Jimin is one of the most-talked-about people on Twitter, TikTok and Intagram. In fact, his name has been mentioned so often on Twitter that it has been categorized as an everyday term since 2021, meaning the platform’s algorithm blocks the word “Jimin” from trending.

* The singer made it onto the Guinness World Records as the fastest Korean soloist to reach one billion streams on Spotify. It took Jimin 393 days to achieve the feat, breaking bandmate and fellow Busanite Jungkook’s previous record by 16 days.

* Jimin is also known for his large donations to charity. He has donated 100 million won to ChildFund Korea, Rotary International’s polio eradication program and relief for the Türkiye-Syria earthquake respectively, as well as donating to the education offices of Busan, South Jeolla and Gangwon, to name a few.

V of BTS [YONHAP]
V of BTS [YONHAP]

V

Born on Dec. 30, 1995 in Daegu, V (real name Kim Tae-hyung) is BTS’ sub-vocalist and dancer. He was the last member to be revealed to the public, and this was just 11 days before the band’s debut.

In 2016, he made his acting debut via a supporting role in the KBS drama series “Hwarang: The Poet Warrior Youth.” V and Jin also worked together on “It’s Definitely You,” a song for the drama’s original soundtrack.

Although he has not taken on more acting roles since “Hwarang,” V is the only BTS member with official acting experience and got a chance to showcase his skills during the 64th Annual Grammy Awards in 2022. A spy-themed scene of him whispering into American pop star Olivia Rodrigo’s ear before BTS’s stage performance instantly went viral.

V is a darling of the fashion scene, making headlines when he attended luxury brand Celine’s Spring/Summer 2023 menswear collection show in Paris with Lisa of Blackpink and actor Park Bo-gum. #TAEHYUNG×Celine was the most-tweeted hashtag that month and he became Celine’s global ambassador this year, the same year he was appointed as the brand ambassador for Indonesian finance firm Sinarmas Sekuritas.

Currently, V and Jungkook are the two BTS members who are yet to officially release solo music. Since plans for Jungkook’s solo debut this year have been announced, V is expected to be the last member to make his debut as a soloist.

V, from left, Lisa, and Park Bo-gum pose for photographers before the Celine men's Spring Summer 2023 collection presented in Paris, France, Sunday, June 26, 2022. [AP/YONHAP]
V, from left, Lisa, and Park Bo-gum pose for photographers before the Celine men’s Spring Summer 2023 collection presented in Paris, France, Sunday, June 26, 2022. [AP/YONHAP]

* With 59.7 million Instagram followers, V has the most followers for a male Korean celebrity and wields great influence in fashion, with BTS’s official Instagram account recording 73.5 million followers.

* He is accredited with coming up with the phrase “I purple you” (borahae in Korean), used by BTS and its fandom ARMY to mean “I’ll love you until the end of days.” He first used the phrase during a BTS fan meet and greet in 2016, inspired by the fact that purple is the last color of the rainbow.

* The color purple and the purple heart emoji are used as the band’s symbol, which was not always the case. Purple became BTS’s signature color only after V came up with “borahae.” So landmarks around the world lighting up in purple to celebrate BTS’s concerts or anniversaries is all thanks to V!

Jungkook of BTS [NEWS1]
Jungkook of BTS [NEWS1]

Jungkook

Born on Sept. 1, 1997 in Busan, Jungkook (real name Jun Jung-kook) is the main vocalist, lead dancer and sub-rapper of the BTS. He is the youngest member of the band, nicknamed “golden 〈i style=”font-size: inherit;”〉maknae [the youngest person in a group].”

Jungkook has yet to make his official solo debut, but has seen success in individual music projects. He sang “Stay Alive” (2022), a track produced by Suga for the BTS-inspired web novel “7Fates: Chakho” (2022-23). In 2022, he collaborated with American pop star Charlie Puth to release “Left and Right,” which climbed to No. 22 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. He has also dropped solo songs, including “Still With You” (2020) and “My You” (2022), on SoundCloud.

In November 2022, Jungkook released “Dreamers,” one of the official songs for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. He performed the number at the event’s opening ceremony, joined by Qatari singer Fahad Al Kubaisi. The synergy between the K-pop sensation and the international sports event led “Dreamers” to top Billboard’s Hot Trending Songs and YouTube’s Weekly Global Top Songs charts.

BTS’s agency said earlier in the week that Jungkook’s solo album is set to be released sometime this year, but a specific date has yet to be scheduled.

Jungkook performs "Dreamers" at the opening ceremony for FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. [NEWS1]
Jungkook performs “Dreamers” at the opening ceremony for FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. [NEWS1]

* Thanks to the above songs, Jungkook held the title of the fastest Korean soloist to reach one billion streams on Spotify even without any official solo release, before bandmate Jimin broke his record.

* Jungkook has been the global ambassador for fashion brand Calvin Klein since March. The day the news broke, the company gained a million more followers on Twitter and its stock price rose by 20 percent.

* In April, Jungkook donated 1 billion won to the Seoul National University Children’s Hospital for children and families in need.

BY HALEY YANG [yang.hyunjoo@joongang.co.kr]

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