BTS: Solo Work and Off Period

Professional photo of Kim Seokjin, Kim Namjoon (RM), Kim Taehyung, Park Jimin, Min Yoongi (Suga), Jung Hoseok (J-Hope), and Jeon Jungkook for ‘Proof’. Copyright goes to the Hybe Corporation and BTS.

Hey! Hallie here!

We’re back! We’ve been on vacation for the last two weeks, which explains the lack of posts recently. And, of course, just when we left we got some major BTS news. My sister will be talking about the ‘Proof’ album soon, so I’m not really going to focus on that. I’m focusing entirely on the FESTA dinner and all of the confusion that followed it. While there were plenty of warning signs for a bit of a BTS break in all of the ‘Proof’ promo, the news that the members would be focusing more on solo content and less on group content blind-sided many fans. And the large amount of opinions being shared on the internet as a result only seemed to get more hectic once Hybe’s preceding statement added to the confusion. There’s a lot to talk about when it comes to this situation, so I’m just going to get right into it!

FESTA Dinner:

These dinners happen as part of the yearly FESTA celebration that surrounds BTS’s debut. It’s usually an occasion for the members of BTS to goof off with one another and speak in depth about their feelings on each other, ARMY, and BTS as a whole. And we definitely got all of that this time. However, a lot of it was really heartbreaking to hear. Amidst the fun jokes and heartwarming thanks to ARMY, the members confessed how much they’ve been struggling with burnout. Namjoon and Yoongi even said that they don’t feel like they have anything to say in their writing anymore as a result of not having the life experience they feel they should have. Even more heartbreaking, all the members spoke at length about how nervous they have been to share these feelings with ARMY. Namjoon cried during the conversation, saying he felt as though he was letting ARMY down. Fortunately, we had members like Taehyung reminding him that true ARMYs would be understanding. In any case, all of it came down to one announcement they wanted to make. They will be focusing mainly on their solo work for an unannounced amount of time. J-Hope put it best, they need to spend time apart before they can become one again. They need to work on themselves individually in order to form a stronger group later down the line. They’ve clearly needed this kind of break for a long while, and I hope they know how much ARMY admires them for taking it. I’m only sad they felt they were disappointing ARMY by taking said break.

The Signs:

During the FESTA dinner we learned that BTS has been considering a break from group work since before the pandemic. Knowing this timeline makes a few things make sense. Starting with the most obvious, ‘Proof’ has always felt like a farewell album. It’s an anthology of their greatest hits, their main music video is a call back to all of their past music videos, and the members have frequently regarded it as an end to “chapter one”. Then there’s their “Permission to Dance” concerts, which were announced very suddenly and never fully developed into a tour before the members said with a finality that the “Permission to Dance” era was over. These concerts also focused on their most popular songs and the songs the members wanted to perform for ARMY the most, which now seems like something equally influenced by their inability to do concerts during quarantine and the incoming period where they wouldn’t be doing concerts as a group. There’s also the breaks BTS took from ‘Run BTS’ and from their crazy schedules in general, which helped their mental health but couldn’t solve everything. There are smaller hints to look at too. Hobi told ARMYs that his next album would likely be out earlier this year, but right when it felt like he was starting to promote it, it was pushed back again. That decision could very easily have been made in order prepare for the announcement that all the members would be releasing solo projects in the near future. There’s also quotes being passed around by ARMYs that hint at BTS trying to subtly console ARMY that their separation wouldn’t be permanent long before the announcement was made. And then there’s various member’s individual comments in interviews about how difficult it’s been to find purpose in their work recently. Which, rightfully, concerned many ARMYs. They really need this break and I’m so glad they’re getting it.

Confusion and Hybe’s Statement:

After the FESTA dinner there were a lot of upset ARMYs, although the reason for their distress varied from person to person. Some were upset that BTS had suffered for so long on behalf of ARMY. Others feared that BTS would break up completely despite the fact that Yoongi stated they wouldn’t be disbanding. Part of the panic was the fault of an English subtitle on the dinner video that changed a Korean word that meant “off time” to the English word “hiatus”. The word hiatus in particular scared US ARMYs, who are used to a music industry where a hiatus is sometimes the same thing as disbandment. And US ARMYs weren’t the only ones. Hybe stock tanked after the announcement as though stock holders didn’t trust BTS to return. While ARMYs were at work trying to remind each other that BTS said they would come back together, Hybe saw their stocks plummeting and made a quick announcement, telling everyone that BTS would not be going on hiatus and that they would still be doing group activities. Which made it sound like they wouldn’t be taking any sort of break at all. At this point you had ARMYs who were convinced that BTS would still be making music together as usual fighting with ARMYs who were angry at Hybe for making a vague announcement that didn’t quite seem to align with what the members themselves said. Honestly, Hybe really should have put more thought into the way they would respond to the reaction to BTS announcing their break, because they did not at all seem to know what to do. So everyone remained confused until the members stepped in.

Jungkook and Namjoon:

These two are the sole reason why I’m now pretty positive I know what’s going on with BTS. Jungkook, seeing the chaos, went live to clear everything up (And also mess around because he’s Jungkook). He clarified that BTS will be focusing on solo work, but they still have some group activities planned including a return to ‘Run BTS’. Essentially, BTS won’t be doing as many group activities together, and they won’t be releasing a lot of music together either, but we will see them get together on occasion while they work on their solo projects. Then Namjoon chimed in with a long and rightfully angry letter on Weverse. Here he mainly criticized the media for taking the fear that BTS would disband and running with it. He felt it undermined a lot of what he was trying to get across during the FESTA dinner and he reiterated that BTS wouldn’t disband. Namjoon deserves to be angry, especially after how vulnerable he was with ARMY. I’m glad he seems to know that ARMYs understand his intentions even though the media doesn’t.

Hopefully I helped clear some things up for ARMYs who are still confused by this situation. A part of me is sad that we won’t have a BTS tour or album in the near future, but the boys are way more important to me than those things. They’ve all been having an incredibly hard time recently, which many of us can relate to, and they really deserve a break. After dedicating so much of their youth to BTS, I hope this time spent separate helps them discover who they truly are. I also hope that they don’t feel pressured by Hybe or the general public to come back together before they’re ready. Everyone experiences burnout, and they need to take a lengthy amount of time to overcome it rather than the short breaks they’ve tried before. I’m so happy that they’re putting their mental health first. They’ve encouraged ARMY to do the same so many times. It’s even more encouraging to seem them take action on their own advice. I wish them the best, and I can’t wait for J-Hope’s album to drop next month!

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

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