“The impact of supergroup BTS is presently being felt around the globe. Smashing records left and right, BTS has claimed an irrevocable and indelible space in the public consciousness as the face of K-pop and Korean soft power. Just as powerful is their legion of fans, known as ARMY. Unlike most common perceptions of fandoms, ARMY outstrips expectations of participatory culture by actively organizing itself across the globe according to the core message of BTS: love yourself.
It is this extramural, united sense of purpose that makes BTS and ARMY unique. Music groups and the publicity that surrounds them are often steered by the entertainment companies that initiate and drive their popularity. BTS is unique in that the reach of ARMY is unequivocally farther, faster, and fiercer than what BigHit Labels can wield on its own. As a result, ARMY has had just as much of a hand in crafting the image of BTS as the members themselves, if not more, through social media and activism.
This dissertation would explore how fandom and group intertwine to craft the coherent, unified mythos that is BTS and ARMY. The two are inextricable, co-dependent on one another to survive and thrive in a way that few other musical groups — K-pop or otherwise — have ever emulated. The Mikrokosmos (so-titled after a BTS song written directly to ARMY) coalesces as a result of both meticulous effort and ardent devotion to the concept, execution, and interrogation of what it means to be BTS and to be ARMY.”
I am currently in the process of formulating this proposal, selecting my objects of analysis, and deciding on methodology of research. I would appreciate any suggestions regarding source material (particularly as it relates to the smeraldo flower and its various appearances), as well as recommendations as to major contributors to fan theory regarding the BU.
All feedback is helpful! Diving into mythological thinking will be a first for me and I want to position BTS/ARMY appropriately. My academic background is not one founded on interviews or quantitative research, so any help in laying out a methodology for that would also be wonderful.
About the Author
Dominique Brigham earned her MA in Cultural Analysis at the University of Amsterdam, researching the translation and adaptation of “Pokémon: The First Movie” from Japan to the United States in the 1990s, and has previously presented on the cultural impact of video games. Currently she works as a product marketer for the medtech company Siilo, where she writes on how healthcare professionals utilize communication technology in clinical settings. She is also preparing a PhD proposal on BTS, the ARMY fandom, their (a)political natures, and their joint and disparate impacts on global culture and social media activism.