There’s no denying that these first six months of 2020 have been arguably the most successful for BTS. However, some journalists suggest that the setbacks the group has faced could overshadow all of that success. Here’s a brief rundown and commentary of 2020’s events thus far as told by a Korean journalist.
They chose to remain anonymous in their article.
The year began with a bang, quite literally. BTS was invited to perform on Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve program at Times Square in New York City, becoming the first Korean artist ever to do so.
It looked to be the best way the group could ever kick off a new year, especially since a little less than a month later, BTS was invited to present and perform at the 62nd Grammy Awards, once again becoming the first Korean musical act to do so. They were featured on a stage alongside country singer Billy Ray Cyrus and rapper Lil Nas X for an epic mashup of “Old Town Road—All-Stars.”
What BTS has done musially is nothing short of phenomenal. They already have a Billboard and an American Music award, and them performing [at the Grammys] could completely blow the door wide open for them.
BTS released their fourth studio album Map of the Soul: 7 in late February, and it immediately became a huge success. It broke into the Billboard 200, which ranks the top albums and EPs in the United States. Four months later, the album is still on the charts, currently sitting at #64 as of the week of June 20.
Unfortunately, things started to head downhill shortly after, albeit for something out of their power—the coronavirus pandemic. They were scheduled to perform 38 shows in 18 cities worldwide. Of those performances, four have been canceled (all four shows in South Korea), and the remaining 34 shows have been indefinitely postponed.
Another looming event in the relatively near future is Jin‘s mandatory military enlistment. The eldest member is set to enlist along with other idols born in 1992. However, fans and even some music executives have lobbied for all members to be exempt, and while it could still be possible, it still does seem far-reaching.
The first major to the group was the “Itaewon controversy” at the end of April that involved several members in different idol groups. Maknae Jungkook was one of these idols caught breaking the social distancing that was mandatory at that time and fell from grace, albeit temporarily.
I find it surprising at times—and even disappointing—that celebrities of any kind sometimes think they’re above the law or that they’ll never get caught, especially if they’re bigger name ones. I’m not saying this was necessarily the case any of those involved, but regardless it really brought negative attention to the group. That’s all.
In early May, Big Hit Entertainment first stated they “cannot confirm their artists’ personal lives.” After issuing that statement, they retracted it and instead offered a formal apology. However, many felt that the excuse was too late and felt reluctant to accept it. Jungkook later issued his apology to which fans were more receptive.
I’m not surprised that fans were more willing to accept his [Jungkook’s] apology compared to Big Hit’s. Whenever I’ve covered an agency that issues an apology statement, it seems like it was a form filled out. When you see or hear or read the words of the accused themselves, it puts a face behind those words. You realize it’s a real person there, and it become easier to accept those words.
The group’s latest scandal is about the sound sampling from Suga‘s latest mixtape D-2, released under his other stage name Agust D.
The track “What do you think?” was revealed to have excerpts from a Jim Jones‘ speech. This notorious pseudo-religious leader was the main perpetrator behind the “Jonestown Massacre.” Big Hit Entertainment once again issued another apology, claiming “lack of understanding of historical and social situations,” but some fans are reluctant to buy the company’s excuse once again.
This is another case similar to Jungkook’s. A idol claims innocence, or what’s worse, their company does that. Again, I’m not suggesting that Suga did this intentionally, I just find it surprising that things like this still happen, especially by an artist so diligent and intelligent and a company that’s supposed to be even more that way…once again, the company’s apology seemed rather scripted.
Despite their analysis of why these adverse events could spell trouble for the group going forward, the journalist is also quick to commend BTS on their momentous achievements, not just during this first six months but over their entire career.
It might seem hypocritical to say all of this after just highlighting and emphasizing flaws, but BTS has still done amazing things for Korea, and not just in the music industry. They’ve changed tourism, how our culture is perceived overseas, our international presence, and more. Anyone who denies their influence and impact on Korea and on the world is denying reality.
There’s no denying that these first six months of 2020 have been quite a roller coaster for BTS, but if history tells anything, it’s that these seven guys will find a way to emerge above it all.