As Korean popular culture turned more and more mainstream within the West — keep in mind when Korean sheet masks all of a sudden turned ubiquitous? Everyone began to settle down. This aid remained nearly from 2017 to 2019. Finally, I used to be free to do the issues I wished, like chasing chickens round a French monastery and writing a homicide thriller involving Chartres.
Then got here BTS.
In April 2019, BTS launched the album “Map of the Soul: Persona”, changing into the primary group for the reason that Beatles to have three No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200 chart inside a 12-month interval. Suddenly, folks wished me to solely discuss BTS. And not simply BTS, however particularly how — in keeping with some — BTS members had been principally shells created by the South Korean authorities for the aim of public diplomacy.
BTS has round 70 million followers on Instagram. Were these lakhs of individuals actual or bot, folks wished to know. What is that this mysterious group of superfans who name themselves the BTS ARMY (an acronym that will or could not stand for “adorable representative MC for youth”)? Why does it have half one million dues-paying, literal card-carrying members? Who is recruiting them?
The fever of conspiracy theories peaked in June 2020 after Donald Trump held a rally in Tulsa, Okla. K-pop followers on TikTok had joined forces to hog tickets, leaving seats empty, with the purpose of trolling Mr Trump and his supporters. Rally. It may have labored: A Florida politician tweeted that the incident was “foreign propaganda”. He accused Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, K-pop brokers (what are they?), and BTS (who he mentioned stood for “Big Time Socialists”) of “conspiring” to “undermine” Mr. Trump Planted. That’s after I realized the cultural clout of BTS: You’re no person in America till somebody calls you a socialist.
every part shall be alright. Last yr, a rumor unfold that the brand new McDonald’s BTS meals had one thing to do with intercourse trafficking, and that’s as a result of the rooster nuggets had been formed like online game characters. This is as a lot info as I can bear with out cringing.
The rumor that I helped to exist has damage me. At least it’s extra true than it was earlier than December 13: As military recruits, BTS members will truly be within the service of the Korean authorities. And with this, I can lastly discover the peace I’ve been on the lookout for.
Yuni Hong (@uni) is the writer of “The Birth of Korean Cool: How One Nation Is Conquering the World Through Pop Culture”.
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