Like so many ARMY, I discovered BTS during the lowest, most painful period in my life. My Father passed away suddenly from an accident in November 2019, and my Mother passed away from COVID in April 2020. In less than five months, I lost the two most important people in my life.
I completely shut down. I never left the house (which was easy to do, since we were still in COVID lockdown), I didn’t call or text anyone, and I stopped listening to music or watching TV. All I did was work and cry. It went on like this until mid-August 2020, when my brother and I had to start closing out our parents’ affairs. I drove to the lawyer’s offices and the banks alone in my car, in complete silence. After a few weeks, the silence became deafening, so I decided to try listening to the radio. None of the songs made an impression; I don’t even remember what I heard.
On August 27, 2020, I was in my car when I heard a new song. The radio display said the group was BTS and the song was “Dynamite.” I didn’t recognize the band or the song, but I liked what I heard. After the song ended, I hit the back button and listened to it again.
When I got home, I looked up BTS and “Dynamite” on YouTube. Every ARMY remembers the first time they stumbled upon BTS’s ginormous amount of content. I had no idea where to start, so I clicked on the official music video for “Dynamite.” When it ended, a suggested video popped up, so I watched it. Then I watched another. Then another. Just like that, I was down the rabbit hole.
I began listening to BTS’s music and watching their videos every day. I learned the members’ stage names and given names. I started to recognize parts of songs and I hummed along. I looked up the English translation of song lyrics. I remember tearing up the first time I read the beautiful lyrics for “Magic Shop,” “Spring Day,” and “Mikrokosmos.” I laughed along with Run BTS! and Bon Voyage. I followed other ARMY on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, and they followed me back. A high school classmate saw something I posted about BTS on Facebook and messaged me. She had found BTS in 2018 during a painful period in her life. We began texting about them, and now we’re close friends who text or talk every day. In April 2021, I started learning Korean online so I could read and properly pronounce BTS song lyrics. My classmates and I became friends, even though we live on opposite sides of the country.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was being pulled back into society. Yes, I was still grieving, but I was starting to heal by connecting with BTS and their music, and with other ARMY, and by becoming part of the global BTS family.
In November 2021, I flew to Los Angeles to meet my Korean class classmates for the “Permission to Dance” concerts. I was lucky enough to get tickets for all four nights, and they were all amazing, but the first night was one of the most incredible, moving experiences I’ve ever had. It was the only LA show where they performed “We are Bulletproof: the Eternal.” As they sang and the lyrics appeared on-screen behind them, the entire stadium was in tears, myself included. In April 2022, I flew to Las Vegas and met my classmates for BTS’s final two shows.
When I first started my journey with BTS, I remember reading people’s comments about how “you don’t find BTS, they find you when you need them the most.” At the time, I thought this was sweet but overly dramatic. Two and a half years later, I know it’s true. BTS’s music, their friendships, their relationship with ARMY, and their message of hope and self-love lifted me out of a deep, dark pit of despair. I still have bad days, but when I do, I listen to BTS’s music or watch their videos and I feel comforted. It becomes zero o’clock.
The odds of me ever meeting BTS are basically zero. If I did meet them, there are two things I would do. I’d give each member the tightest hug, and I’d say “감사합니다“ (thank you) to them for finding me when I needed them the most.
- United States