You’re my worst kept secret

I am a busy working mum of 2. I had never being a fan of any artist before. My obsessions when I was a teenager were male and female athletes from quite obscure sports. And then my life got too busy to actually have a time-consuming hobby. Higher education, a PhD abroad, a first baby, a first job, then a house, a second baby… Music was always an afterthought, a few songs on a playlist on repeat, mostly “dad rock” songs, and that was it.

Because I had no time to actually sit down and watch movies or TV shows anymore, YouTube became one of my few pockets of escapism. I spent meaningless hours watching influencers or talk show snippets. This is how, sometime in 2018, I stumbled upon clips of a boy band from Korea performing “I’m fine” and “Idol” on the Jimmy Fallon show. I clearly remember loving the outfits, the choreography and obvious professionalism of those boys, even though I could not understand how everybody was deciphering every little detail in the voice or moves of each member in the comments section. I simply thought “I’m too old for this”, and moved on.

Fast forward August 31st, 2019. I watched Safiya Nygard’s video entitled “I got a kpop makeover”. She used a lot of clips of music videos and explained how fashion-forward the industry was, and how by the end of her research for this video she had become quite the kpop stan. I suddenly remembered those boys from 2018, and typed “BTS music video” in the search bar. Blood Sweat and Tears was the first result. I started watching it, and paused it after a few seconds and made the decision that changes every single army’s life: “I JUST WANT TO KNOW THEIR NAMES”. Youtube has several very good introduction videos on the topic. The rest is obviously history. Like everyone else, I fell down the rabbit hole to try to learn about and understand more than 6 years of content. The struggles, the joys, the industry, the artistry, the personalities… By the time the end of year award shows arrived, I was all caught up in what has become one of the most meaningful encounters of my life. I understood what a miracle it was for these men to have come together, and how legendary their legacy will become. For once, I will be part of history and not just standing on the side. Looking at my pile of albums slowly growing in my shelf, I feel my heart bursting with pride and joy that I live at the same time as them. I feel like I am part of the worst kept secret of pop culture, and there will be no gatekeeping, even though that means that I may never be able to see them in a concert.

My world views have become so much wider, I often say that “I love BTS, but I also love Army so much”. They are funny, educated, loyal, aware of pressing world issues and incredibly savvy. Never before had I grasped the true influence of soft power. As I am coming towards the end of my second year as an army, I reflect on the tangible influence they have had on my life: I am no longer overweight after more than a decade of struggles, I am in the process of a radical job change because I have finally grasped my professional value, and I have found a place in the world that is no longer just a wife, mother or employee: I am part of the most powerful army in the world, and I have made it my mission to be a listener and carer for anyone in this fandom who needs a hand or an ear.

The other day, my 3-year old was in the car behind me after a long and tiring day, and she asked to listen to BTS. I put on their recent “Fix you” cover and after a few seconds she said: “mum, this song is making me feel better”. Enough said.

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