The Gift of BTS

On New Year’s Eve 2017 my 11 year old middle child found BTS. Never one to shy away from things unique and different, she entered 2018 and the BTS rabbit hole full throttle. Watching from an acceptable mom-distance, I tried not to cramp her style, but asked her to play songs as we traveled that summer. She’d talk excitedly about the entire group, her bias V, and the music. When BTS’ October 2018 show at Citifield was announced, taking place the day before her 12th birthday, I knew going to the concert together would be the perfect gift for her. What I didn’t know, was that I’d receive a gift as well.

To prepare for the concert I tried to learn the members’ names, and the fan chant. That night at the stadium we sat next to a woman my age with a version one ARMY bomb and a Suga picket. When BTS took the stage, ARMY bombs alight, I watched my child transform. Her joy was pure and contagious. I had never seen anything like it. My daughter had found herself a massive, positive, multigenerational, international community centered around music I didn’t know existed. BTS’ performance was incredible and their ending ments inspiring. I wasn’t quite ready to call myself ARMY, but I could tell I was leaving a different person from who I was entering the stadium’s gates that night.

Wondering if there were really were adult ARMY, like the woman with the Suga picket, I joined a few online groups and read and watched everything about BTS that I could find. Three years later, I am a Suga bias myself. I fell in love with the group’s artistry, and sincerity. I attended more BTS concerts and exhibitions, and began to make ARMY friends and pen-pals. When the pandemic hit, I further realized that not only does BTS’ music provide comfort and consolation to ARMY, but ARMY provides comfort and consolation to each other. I can’t imagine how dark 2020 might have been if I didn’t have BTS, the opportunity to watch MOTS: One and BangBangCon with my daughter, or the “happy mail” my ARMY friends and I send to each other. A professional artist, I started making BTS fan art here and there. I began collecting enamel pins and supporting other ARMY artists. 

Up until then, being an “ARMY Mom,” supporting my child and her interests, was safe. Being an adult ARMY independent from my child, brought on a different reaction. Some people in my life made snide comments about a person my age liking a “boy band.” Others said nothing, while still thinking I was weird. But like the lyrics from Nevermind, I have, after 40+ years of living, decided to live how I want, guided by my own beliefs. The result is a smarter, braver, happier, me. I am more creative at work and in life. I took two semesters of college level Hangul and Korean language this past year and amazed myself with what I can do if I set my mind to it.

I thought discovering BTS would be a story of a mother learning from, and growing closer to, her daughter. It has most certainly been that, but it’s also a story of unexpected growth and empowerment for me. I now let myself be unabashedly inspired by BTS and their lyrics, because just like my daughter joyfully lighting up at the first few notes of Citifield, I eventually realized BTS’s music lights me up too. And that spark, is BTS’ gift to all ARMY.




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