The Impact of BTS on Globalization
How it works
Music has for centuries been a source of enjoyment and entertainment to the public. Throughout time, music has played an enormous role in a variety of important events throughout history. For instance, Woodstock brought together a huge gathering of youth who, as a whole, used music as a means of expressing their dissatisfaction with the politics of the age, and the Vietnam War. One of the most impactful uses for music has been to bring people together to enjoy the music. One specific group doing this right now are none other than “the biggest boy band in the world” BTS. BTS is a Korean pop, or K-pop group, who have recently taken over music charts and social media with their music and messages. BTS is currently having a huge impact, not only on the entertainment industry but also on South Korean politics with their global success, messages of unity and empowerment, and their willingness to push the boundaries in a way that no other idol before them has.
BTS can credit a portion of their global success to their commitment and their ability to communicate across languages and cultures. They have an appeal that is difficult to explain when one looks at their popularity among youth of many cultures as well as other age groups. This success can be attributed to their ability to speak, sing and read in a variety of languages. They have performed, written and recorded albums in both English, Japanese as well as their native tongue. ( Bruner) This has been an enormous factor in the way so many cultures have embraced their talent and their message. Fans of all ages have taken the music and started to learn new languages, have attempted to understand and relate to other cultures that otherwise they may never have been exposed to, and have become more interested in cultures other than their own and in traveling outside of their comfort zones. Kim Namjoon, the bands’ leader, was the first member to have an understanding of other cultures, particularly of the English language. He was successful in sharing with his bandmates and motivating and inspiring what has now become more of a movement than a genre. RM, as Namjoon is fondly referred to by fans, claims to have gained his knowledge of the language from the TV sitcom, “Friends”. (Bruner) He says he watched the show often with subtitles and then without and basically trained himself to understand the language in this manner. Exhibiting another way the creative pursuits are lending themselves to the advancement of globalization, the Internet makes it so much easier to see and share outlets that before were completely foreign to anyone who could not travel outside of their country. This global popularity is due to their fanbase, known as ARMY, and also due to how accessible their content is thanks to today’s technology and the internet. Some could argue that the passion that BTS’ ARMY has is unhealthy, and can cause a lapse in the engagement of these students in school. In a study done by The Department of Educational Sciences at the Bulent Ecevit University in Turkey on 365 students at a high school in the Gaziantep province, they found that lower engagement in school is due to students having an internet addiction.(Ta?)
How it works
Understanding that they have a special privilege of creative freedom rarely granted to entertainers from South Korea, BTS takes their gift very seriously. They use their platform to bring messages of empowerment, unity, and self-love to their fans the world over. They also address more political issues such as poverty and the difference that millennials face from baby boomers in such things as purchasing a home or paying for a college education. The band, for this reason, has been recognized for their social justice efforts and are esteemed highly in their country for their work.
BTS also address social justice issues financially. They have been impactful in a number of ways financially one of which is the campaigns that they themselves engineer and carry out to raise funds for charities and issues that they themselves feel strongly about. One such campaign was the End Violence campaign that served to help youth remain free of violent interactions in their lives. This undertaking resulted in BTS being asked to speak to and address the United Nations Summit. Kim Namjoon was the speaker on the bands’ behalf and he addressed youth in his speech pleading that they “Speak Themselves” as in standing up for themselves and their rights and safety.
South Korea has a mandatory military requirement that all males 28 years of age much enlist and serve in the military for a number of years. The bands impact on globalization, possibly even bringing us closer than ever to world peace, has led the country to take a look at and possibly reexamine the requirement when an individual or group is making an even greater positive impact on the country and the world in other ways. This is yet another way the band is influencing the culture of both their own country and others as well. Although this has been discussed as a possibility and even exempting the group as the oldest member will soon be 28, fans and other speculate that given the opportunity to be exempted, the bands since of duty and loyalty would lead to them taking the military route anyway. Also, because there is negative stigma within their culture and others that view not taking their military service time as productive, contributing citizens of the conservative South Korea.
While some would argue that the band is simply kids pop music with no substance and no intended impactful meaning, a simple evaluation of the facts I’ve presented here lead to a far different conclusion. Thinking outside the box leads one to realize that without a doubt the band and possibly even the genre is bring the cultures closer together and making it interesting for folks to learn more not just about their neighbors but about other countries, Helping us to realize that we are all just flesh and bone and that we are far more alike that we are different. Giving us an idea of how other cultures function, of how we relate to and empathize with one another. Seeing the other guy, as a fellow human, rather than a “foreigner” would potentially bring us one step closer to globalization and one step closer to world peace.