How BTS Are Breaking Down one K-Pop Taboo after another

Politics in South Korea are not something that are usually addressed by K-pop groups. Given how amazing the young men of BTS seem to be however, it's not unsurprising that they are hell bent on changing the world as we know it.

Most idol groups carefully avoid anything to do with the political scene and with good reason - the government in South Korea has a history of keeping a close eye on its performing artists opinions. 

BTS however, who just became the first ever K-Pop act to top the Billboard 200 sales chart, owe part of their astronomical success to their willingness to be outspoken about issues that they think are important for young people today.

They have been the first K-Pop group to openly discuss the right of LGBTQ people, mental health and the ferocious pressure to succeed - all of which are traditionally taboo subjects in Korea. Indeed, in most countries around the globe, it's rare to find open conversations on these topics at all. It's clear that these issues mean so much to the members of BTS.

In blending deep and important messages into their incredibly catchy songs they have ascended to a unique place in the music world drawing both K-poppers and people who may have never heard K-pop before into their circle.

BTS' open-heartedness on difficult issues dates to the days of 2013 when they were still very much a fringe act and addressing such issues could have been a career ending move. The leader of the group, RM tweeted his admiration for the song "Same Love" by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. He said "This is a song about homosexuality. The song is twice as good when I listen to the lyrics.” 

The Army span generations, genders, religions, nationalities and sexualities. And these fans listen intently to the group’s self-penned lyrics and message, before disseminating and translating them into many languages. 

As the members of BTS have grown from teenagers into mature young men, their lyrics have gained more weight. So too, has their outspokenness on topics and issues that matter to them. They are keenly aware that their fame gives them a gigantic platform to make a difference.

It's estimated that thirty-six South Koreans die from suicide each day. While the Korean government has been hesitant to acknowledge this problem, some members of BTS have spoken out about their own bouts with psychological illness. RM talked about how depression had previously made him afraid to go back on stage: “I was unable to enjoy things like I used to.” And in their annual New Year’s message to their fans, Suga told them, “It’s okay to live without a dream.” 

In South Korea, there is also immense pressure on young people to perform in school and get good grades. This can have a negative effect on their mental health. Through their music, with songs such as 'Fire' they tell their fans that it's ok to 'Live as you like, it's your life anyway'. In the new track 'Paradise' they echo this message telling their listeners that it's ok to have modest goals: 'We deserve a life!'

The taboo smashing, wonderful BTS have got the attention of their president when following this week’s historic #1 placement on the Billboard 200, Korea's leader Moon Jae-In said that "“BTS has a magical ability to turn sadness into hope, and differences into similarity.” 

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