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A Beginner’s Guide To BTS For Everyone Who Is Curious

It's never too late to get to know the pure joy that is BTS.

Welcome to the world of BTS.

Big Hit Entertainment

While BTS are by no means a new phenomenon, they are picking up new fans all the time. If you're one, or you're even just mildly curious and perhaps want to learn their names (warning: that's how it starts for everyone), this post is for you.

Maybe you saw an article about one of the many records they've broken, or their charity, or the passion of their fans. Perhaps it was a Twitter fancam that did it, or a music video, or a performance that drew you in.

Whatever caught your interest, it can be overwhelming to dip your toe into the BTS pool at first. Eight years' worth of content is A LOT – especially with a band as prolific as BTS. But there's also a lot of joy to be found once you start making your way through it. So consider this a basic overview to help guide you on your trip down the rabbit hole...

Who are BTS?

BTS run towards the camera in a white studio wearing preppy clothes
Big Hit Music

BTS are a seven-member group from South Korea who debuted on June 13, 2013. Their name in Korean is 방탄소년단 – which means Bangtan Sonyeondan and translates to Bulletproof Boy Scouts. Their fans are known as ARMY. Originally focused on hip-hop, over the years BTS have diversified their range and produced a vast array of music (and a lot of other content, too). When it comes to BTS, there's basically something for everyone.

In terms of following the band, there are several platforms to check out, depending on what you're interested in. The seven members share one Twitter account, @BTS_twt, which they use for personal updates. They also use the app Weverse for sharing posts and photos and interacting with fans, while the VLive app is where they livestream.

BTS' YouTube channel, Bangtan TV, is where behind-the scenes clips, dance practices and video logs are dropped.

BTS' Soundcloud is where you'll find a whole bunch of music the band has released for free, from pre-debut songs to solo tracks and mixtapes to covers of their fave artists.

The band has an official Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, all of which are updated by staff and used primarily for official announcements and photos.

New video content tends to come with English subtitles, and livestreams are typically subtitled within a day or two. But Google translations for social content are basically never accurate, so it's a good idea to follow fan translators who collectively provide almost instant translations. Here's a Twitter list of some fans who regularly translate BTS content into English.

Meet The Members

BTS wear suits and novelty sunglasses while lined up in a green studio
Big Hit Music / Via Facebook: bangtan.official

RM a.k.a. Kim Namjoon

Big Hit Music / Via Facebook: photo,, Twitter: @BTS_twt

RM, 26, is the leader of BTS and part of their rapline (that is, the rappers of the group). He was formerly known as Rap Monster, but changed his stage name to RM in 2017.

RM is fluent in English, having learnt it from watching Friends growing up, and is known for his intelligence and introspection. His hobbies include bicycling, bonsais, visiting galleries and museums, and collecting art and woodwork.

While all the members of BTS are involved in song-writing and music production, RM writes a significant portion of their lyrics. His solo songs within BTS include "Intro: What Am I To You", "Reflection", "Trivia 承: Love", and "Intro: Persona".

In addition to their work with BTS, each member has solo projects that they release on the side. For RM, that's his two mixtapes – RM and Mono – as well as collaborations with artists such as Lil Nas X, Younha, and Wale.

Jin a.k.a. Kim Seokjin

Big Hit Music / Via Facebook: bangtan.official, Big Hit Music / Via Facebook: photo, Twitter: @BTS_twt

Jin, 28, is the eldest member of BTS and a part of the vocal line (i.e. the vocalists). He originally trained as an actor, but was scouted off the street by Big Hit Entertainment, the agency that formed BTS.

Jin's nickname is "Worldwide Handsome", which he earned after going viral several times for his good looks. He has a cheerful personality and goofy sense of humor that is rife with dad jokes, which he often uses to break the ice and set the other members at ease during public appearances.

Jin sometimes does mukbang (i.e. "eating broadcast") livestreams using the name Eat Jin. He spends a lot of his spare time gaming, and also enjoys fishing, especially with fellow member Suga.

His solo songs for BTS include "Awake", "Epiphany", and "Moon", and he's also released two songs of his own, "Tonight" and "Abyss".

Suga a.k.a. Min Yoongi

Big Hit Music / Via Facebook: photo, Twitter: @BTS_twt, Big Hit Music / Via Facebook: photo

Suga, 28, is a part of the rapline of BTS. He's quite introverted, but is also a direct communicator with a dry sense of humor.

While all the members of BTS often display strong emotional intelligence, this is especially the case with Suga – he frequently dispenses realistic but comforting advice to both the other members and fans.

Suga often acts as an MC in BTS shows (more on those later), and in 2020 did his own version of a radio livestream series called Honey FM. Suga grew up playing piano and basketball, and is currently learning guitar.

His solo songs for BTS are "Intro: The Most Beautiful Moment in Life", "First Love", "Trivia 轉: Seesaw", and "Interlude: Shadow". He has released two solo mixtapes under the name Agust D, called Agust D and D-2. Suga has also collaborated with Halsey and Lee So-ra, as well as produced music for artists like Heize, Epik High, Suran, and IU.

J-Hope a.k.a. Jung Hoseok

Big Hit Entertainment / Via Facebook: bangtan.official, Twitter: @BTS_twt, Big Hit Music / Via

J-Hope, 27, is the third member of BTS' rapline. With a background in street dance, J-Hope is also one of the main dancers of the group.

His stage name is no coincidence, and J-Hope is often called "sunshine" by fans because of how outgoing and bubbly he is. His catchphrase is "I'm your hope, you're my hope, I'm J-Hope", and the other members frequently credit him with giving them energy. He's also passionate about fashion, and his eclectic clothes reflect his bright personality.

J-Hope has a series of dance videos called "Hope On The Street", in which he uploads clips or livestreams himself dancing, sometimes with others as guests.

J-Hope's BTS solos include "Intro: Boy Meets Evil", "Mama", "Trivia 起: Just Dance", and "Outro: Ego". As a solo artist, he's released the mixtape Hope World and the single "Chicken Noodle Soup", which featured Becky G. In March 2021, he released a full length version of "Blue Side", a song which appeared on Hope World as an outro.

Jimin a.k.a. Park Jimin

Big Hit Music / Via Facebook: photo, Big Hit Music / Via Facebook: bangtan.official, Twitter: @BTS_twt

Jimin, 25, is a vocalist and another of the main dancers of BTS, with a background in contemporary dance.

Jimin is an extrovert who often talks about how he thrives in the company of others and enjoys spending a lot of time with his friends. He's known as a "memory squirrel" because of his habit of taking and collecting Polaroids.

Jimin is frequently shown to be affectionate and caring, leading birthday celebrations and offering comfort when the others are upset. But he also has a Slytherin streak that manifests in a wicked sense of humor.

Jimin's solo songs with BTS are "Lie", "Serendipity", and "Filter". As a soloist he's also released "Promise" and "Christmas Love".

V a.k.a. Kim Taehyung

Big Hit Music / Via,, BTS Weverse / Via

V, 25, is part of BTS' vocal line. He has a reputation for being friendly and outgoing, with a mischievous sense of humor. He is often shown thinking outside of the box and coming up with unique ideas.

V has a love of visual arts and is especially interested in photography. He sometimes shares his own work under the name Vante.

He also has acting experience, having starred in the k-drama Hwarang. He became close friends with fellow castmembers Park Seojoon and Park Hyungsik, and together with actor Choi Wooshik and musician Peakboy, they have a famous friendship group called the Wooga Squad.

V's solo songs with BTS are "Stigma", "Singularity", and "Inner Child". He has also released several songs as a soloist, including "4 O'Clock" (with RM), "Scenery", "Winter Bear", "It's Definitely You" (with Jin, for the Hwarang soundtrack), "Sweet Night" (for the soundtrack of Park Seojoon's drama Itaweon Class), and "Snow Flower" (which features Peakboy).

Jungkook a.k.a. Jeon Jungkook

Big Hit Entertainment / Via Facebook: photo, Big Hit Music / Via Facebook: photo, Twitter: @BTS_twt

Jungkook is a vocalist and, at 23, the maknae (i.e. youngest member) of BTS. He's open-hearted and a perfectionist, with a reputation for being good at everything (especially singing and dancing) that's earned him the nickname "Golden Maknae".

He's athletic and loves the gym and adrenaline-fuelled activities. He boxes as a hobby, and he also gets creative in his spare time, occasionally sharing his art with fans.

Jungkook is particularly passionate about video, filming and editing his own clips while travelling with BTS and releasing them under the name G.C.F. (which stands for Golden Closet Film).

His solo songs with BTS include "Begin", "Euphoria" and "My Time". He's uploaded many covers to BTS' Soundcloud, and in 2020 released his very first song as a soloist, "Still With You".

The Music Of BTS

Big Hit Entertainment

BTS generally releases music as part of ongoing series that focus on different themes and tell specific stories. While their music videos usually include captions with English subtitles, in general they don't release official English translations for all of their songs. There are, however, plenty of fan translations, such as those at Muish, Doolset Bangtan and Do You Bangtan.

Here's a broad overview of the main eras in BTS' music career:

The School Trilogy (2013-2014)

A still from the "No More Dream" music video; BTS pose in front of a school buss with flames surrounding it; they were black and white patterned outfits and lots of jewellery
Big Hit Music

BTS' debut era was centred around teenage feelings, from crushes to the frustration of being up against rigid and oppressive systems. The School Trilogy is made up of three EPs:

2 Cool 4 Skool, the release of which was connected with BTS' debut trailer, a music video for title track "No More Dream", and a second music video for "We Are Bulletproof Pt. 2".

O!RUL8,2?, which was released with a trailer and a music video for title track "N.O".

Skool Luv Affair, which came with a trailer, a music video for title track "Boy In Luv" as well as one for "Just One Day". This mini album was later repackaged as a Skool Luv Affair Special Addition with two extra songs.

Although not technically part of the School Trilogy, BTS' first full studio album, Dark and Wild, follows on from it and extends the themes of teenage rebellion and horniness. The trailer for Dark and Wild features RM's "Intro: What Am I To You". It was followed by music videos for the title track "Danger" and then later "War of Hormone".

In addition to their Korean music, BTS also releases Japanese versions of some tracks, as well as original Japanese songs. In this era, they dropped Japanese singles of "No More Dream", "Boy In Luv", and "Danger". These were followed by their first Japanese album, Wake Up, which featured the singles and Japanese versions of other songs, as well as several new Japanese tracks.

The Youth Trilogy (2015-2016)

BTS walk in a line along train tracks; they wear casual clothes
Big Hit Music

The Youth Trilogy is also known as Hwa Yang Yeon Hwa (HYYH) or The Most Beautiful Moment in Life series, and it explores the growing pains of young adulthood.

This era saw BTS play with a new look and a different sound, and introduce a fictional storyline – later dubbed the Bangtan Universe (BU) – told through their music videos and in notes in their albums. All videos that are part of the canon include "BU content" in their description on YouTube – and if you want to dive even deeper, you can get a compilation book of all the notes that expand on the story, plus read the associated webtoon.

The albums in this series are:

The Most Beautiful Moment in Life, Part 1, a mini album. A trailer was released featuring Suga's "Intro: The Most Beautiful Moment In Life", followed by two versions of the music video for title track "I Need You". A music video was also released for "Dope".

The Most Beautiful Moment in Life, Part 2, another mini album. This was preceded by a short BU film called "화양연화 On Stage: Prologue" and also a trailer featuring "Intro: Never Mind", a song performed by the rapline. There was then a music video for title track "Run".

The Most Beautiful Moment in Life: Young Forever, which is a compilation album that includes some tracks from the Part 1 and Part 2 mini albums, in addition to three new tracks and several remixes. Music videos were released for title track "Fire", as well as "Save Me", and "Epilogue: Young Forever".

This era also saw the release of the Japanese album Youth, with singles including the original song "For You" and Japanese versions of "I Need You" and "Run".

The Wings Era (2016-2017)

BTS sit in formalwear in a purple elaborately styled room with multiple chandeliers
Big Hit Music

Partly inspired by Demian: The Story of Emil Sinclair's Youth, a coming-of-age novel by Hermann Hesse, this era continues the BU storyline and deepens BTS' exploration of growing up, with a focus on losing your innocence and navigating temptation.

Wings is the first album of the era. It was preceded by the release of seven short films, each centred around a different member's solo song: "Begin", "Lie", "Stigma", "First Love", "Reflection", "Mama", and "Awake". These were followed by a trailer featuring J-Hope's "Intro: Boy Meets Evil" and a music video for title track "Blood Sweat & Tears".

The second album of this era is You Never Walk Alone, which is actually a repackage of Wings with the addition of three new songs. Two of these, "Spring Day" and "Not Today", were released as singles with music videos.

These Korean releases were followed by a Japanese version of Blood Sweat & Tears.

The Love Yourself Series (2017-2018)

BTS stand in a row wearing casual clothes; they all have dark hair
Big Hit Music

This era, as the name suggests, is all about loving yourself. It continues the BU plot, and began with the release of four short films called the Highlight Reels: "起", "承", "轉", and "起承轉結".

The series consists of three albums:

Love Yourself 承 'Her', a mini album. Its trailer is a music video for Jimin's solo "Serendipity", which was followed by title track "DNA" and later "Mic Drop".

Love Yourself 轉 'Tear', a studio album. Ahead of its release, a short film "Euphoria: Theme of Love Yourself 起 Wonder" featuring Jungkook's solo "Euphoria" was dropped, as well as a trailer/music video for V's "Singularity". There was also a music video for title track "Fake Love", which was followed by an extended version.

Love Yourself 結 'Answer', a compilation album featuring tracks from Her and Tear as well as several new songs and remixes. Its trailer was a music video for Jin's solo "Epiphany", and its title track was "Idol". A second version of "Idol" was later released featuring Nicki Minaj.

A Japanese album Face Yourself was also released in this era, featuring both original tracks and Japanese versions of some Love Yourself songs. Music videos were released for the Japanese versions of "Mic Drop" and "Airplane Pt 2", the latter of which wasn't on Face Yourself but released afterward as a separate single.

The Map of the Soul Series (2019-2020)

BTS stand in a row wearing formalwear with different coloured hair; there are lit-up signs in the background
Big Hit Music

This era takes inspiration from Carl Jung's psychological theories, as examined in Jung's Map Of The Soul by Dr Murray Stein. It uses Jung's ideas of the persona, shadow, and ego as a framework through which BTS explore their own lives and fame.

The series began with the mini album Map of the Soul: Persona. Its trailer is a music video for RM's solo "Intro: Persona". Its title track is "Boy With Luv", which features Halsey. A music video for a remixed version of "Make It Right" featuring Lauv was later released, and was followed by two more remixes of the song.

The next album in the series is Map of the Soul: 7, a full studio album which carries over five songs from Persona and adds 14 new songs. There were a number of videos tied in with the release of 7: two trailers which act as music videos for Suga's "Interlude: Shadow" and J-Hope's "Outro: Ego"; an art film for "Black Swan" followed later by an official music video; and a kinetic manifesto film for title track "On", which was also followed by an official music video.

Although not part of the Map of the Soul series, BTS also released a soundtrack for their mobile game BTS World during this time period, which featured four new songs and had an accompanying music video for "Heartbeat".

BTS also released a Japanese single "Lights" in 2019, and the Japanese Album Map of the Soul: 7 ~The Journey~ in July 2020, which included several new songs, including the title track "Stay Gold".

The Dynamite and BE Era (2020)

BTS wear different colored clothes and stand in a CG field
Big Hit Music

Like literally everyone else, BTS' 2020 plans were completely derailed by COVID-19. Instead of touring the world, they found themselves stuck at home, and so they turned to doing what they do best: creating music.

In August 2020, they released their very first all-English single, "Dynamite", saying they wanted the song to give energy and joy to fans around the world going through a hard time. They also released several remixes of the track, and "Dynamite" earned BTS their first Billboard Hot 100 number one and a Grammy nomination.

In November 2020, BTS released a new album BE, which features "Dynamite" and six new songs, including title track "Life Goes On", which also hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100. The album reflects their experiences during the pandemic, with a particular focus on mental health, their relationship to their work, and their yearning to see fans.

While all seven BTS members have always participated in creating their music to some degree, BE saw them take on a greater level of involvement than ever before. In addition to more input in the songwriting process, different members each took the lead on various aspects of the album creation, such as the concept photos, packaging, and music video. They documented some of this work in a series of livestreams in the lead up to the album release.

BTS has not yet announced what their next era will be, although they do have a Japanese compilation album coming out in June called BTS, the Best. It features new single "Film Out".

The Performances Of BTS

BTS performs in suits on a stage designed to look like a temple

One of the most impressive things about BTS are their spectacular live performances. While it's definitely worth watching their full concerts if you want to really dive deep, there are a lot of performances from awards shows and other TV appearances that are a great entry point. Here are just some to start with:

"Blood Sweat & Tears" on M Countdown.

"Boy Meets Evil", "Blood Sweat & Tears" and "Fire" at the 2016 Mnet Asian Music Awards (MAMAs).

"Not Today", "DNA", "Cypher Pt. 4", and "Mic Drop" at the 2017 MAMAs.

"Fake Love", "Airplane Pt. 2", and "Idol" at the 2018 Melon Music Awards (MMAs).

"Boy With Luv" and "Mic Drop" on Saturday Night Live.

"Make It Right" on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

"Intro: Persona", "Boy In Luv", "Boy With Luv", "Mikrokosmos", and "Dionysus" at the 2019 MMAs.

"On" at Grand Central Terminal on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

"Black Swan", "Mikrokosmos", "Idol" ,"Home" ,"Dynamite" (with the Roots), and "Dynamite" (full choreography) on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

"Dynamite", "Save Me", and "Spring Day" for NPR's Tiny Desk Concert.

"Black Swan" (Instrumental), "On", "Life Goes On", and "Dynamite" at the 2020 MMAs.

The Shows Of BTS

BTS wear pyjamas and have their arms raised on a set decorated with purple streamers and balloons
Big Hit Entertainment

In addition to music and the content directly related to it, BTS keep very busy with a wide array of video projects.

There's a lot to explore, but their current shows are the best place to start. Variety show Run BTS is extremely entertaining and a fun way to get to know the individual members better. All episodes are available for free on VLive, with newer ones also released on Weverse. Bon Voyage, BTS' travel reality series, is also great if you are willing to pay for content. Seasons 1-3 are available on VLive, and Season 4 is on Weverse. In The Soop, which documents a soothing pandemic-era escape into the forest for the group, is also available for purchase on Weverse.

BTS have released several docu-series following their lives on tour, which are all incredibly insightful. The first, Burn the Stage, focuses on their Wings tour and is available for purchase on YouTube, as is the accompanying Burn the Stage: the Movie. Their second series, Bring the Soul, follows their Love Yourself tour and is available on Weverse, as is a companion movie. Their third series, Break the Silence, which focuses on the end of the Love Yourself tour and the subsequent Love Yourself: Speak Yourself tour, can also be purchased on Weverse along with its movie version.

So, do you know BTS?

BTS laugh as an interview asks "What is your go to pick up line" and Suga answers "Do you know BTS?"
Billboard / Via

If you made it this far, congrats! You've just scratched the surface of BTS content and still have so much left to discover. Go forth and binge! There's no turning back.