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Why BTS Leads And Why I Am A Fan

By Marie Tanate, VP Group Internal Audit, AEV

If you do not know BTS yet, then let me introduce you to them.

BTS is a seven-member K-pop group from South Korea that debuted in 2013 and has since then skyrocketed to global stardom…and I mean G.L.O.B.A.L. Their ARMY, BTS’ official fandom name, spans over a hundred countries with the Philippines taking the top spot at 21% of its worldwide count. Jungkook, Jimin, Jin, J-Hope, RM, Suga, and V.

BTS composes, sings, raps, dances. As of this writing, BTS member V’s self-composed song ‘Sweet Night’ is No. 1 on the iTunes Top Chart in 117 out of 120 countries save for Venezuela, Nepal, and Turkmenistan. If The Beatles is to the Baby Boomer generation, BTS transcends all generations from the Boomers to the Gens X, Y, and Z.  My Gen Z daughter is an ARMY. And I am a Gen X ARMY Mom.

Let me share with you an ARMY Mom’s insights on why BTS leads and what we have to learn about leadership from these men-boys.

BTS Breaks Barriers.

For a boy band whose spoken words are splattered with annyeonghaseyo (안녕하세요) and saranghae (사랑해), it comes as a surprise why and how the world understands them. Language has never been a barrier to music. Music has no rules. Yes, there are formulas on what works, what sells. End-of-day BTS music communicates to people. Their music speaks a language understood by listeners of different cultures, ages, races, gender, walks of life. There is a clear, unmistakable message in every song that finds its way to relate to everyone, a message that touches a heartstring or maybe even your core. BTS builds a commonality that motivates the ARMY to move as one. BTS break barriers through their music in whatever language it was sung—Korean, English, and even Japanese.

Great leaders break barriers, too. They unite. They do not separate. They do not confine. They find ways to overcome limitations and roadblocks to achieve their next big breakthrough. They forge new paths. They speak a language so clear, so inspiring that makes you want to be one with them. Leaders create opportunities that build an openly authentic environment that connects people.  

BTS addressed the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly in 2018 to launch a new partnership on global education and training for all young people by 2030.

BTS Transforms.

BTS is one of the world’s biggest influencers.

When the music video of their first all-English single “Dynamite” debuted on August 21, 2020, BTS shattered YouTube records by having 10 million views in the first 20 minutes of release and 101 million views all within the first 24 hours. (Watch the video here.)

Big Hit Entertainment, the founder of BTS, describes “Dynamite” is a disco-pop single that sings of joy and confidence, bringing a new surge of much-needed 'energy' to reinvigorate the global community during this pandemic.

A year ago in one interview, BTS said that performing a song fully in English is not something they will do as they do not want to change their identity or the “genuineness” of their music. Yet they took this on. They transformed. Not only are they talented, they adapt.  And they are timely.

Great leaders do not stay static. They morph. They become better. They have foresight. They respond quickly to both threats and opportunities. They create a vision that inspires change and transformation. They seize the day and take risks. Time is of the essence. They transcend beyond regular innovation. And people follow.

A still from the “Dynamite” music video 

BTS Stimulates.

Mobilizing power. K-pop fans are known for their prolific social media activity and have used their influence to support social justice issues. BTS and its record label, Big Hit Entertainment, donated USD1 million in support of Black Lives Matter on June 5, 2020.  As soon as the news became public, the ARMY organized an online campaign #MatchAMillion and reached its goal within 25 hours!

Korean ambassadors. The ARMY is learning to read, write, and speak Korean. Why? Learning a new language empowers the fans to access BTS information that would otherwise be off-limits. My own ARMY daughter has a strict, designated self-study time for spoken and written Korean and, mind you, that is over and above the time spent for her university requirements.  

Great leaders “do” to inspire people to action. They make you think. They make you question. They stimulate innovation, creativity, intellectual learning as well as social consciousness.

BTS on the cover of TIME magazine, October 2018

Break barriers. Transform. Stimulate. These make for a great leader. Learn to be one.

So, what is BTS? What is ARMY? Find out more about why BTS leads and why the world loves them. Join the ARMY. (Or are you are already part of it?) I hope this short article was enough to stimulate your curiosity. Read on them.  Listen to them. Watch them.  Send me a line or two of feedback on who your favorite member is and why. Hopefully, not only because they all look good because they do.

I am an ARMY Mom. Yes, we have an official ARMY Bomb lightstick ordered online directly from Korea.

BTS I purple you. Why? Read.

University of Experience is a new Aboitiz Eyes section that features leadership insights drawn from the unique experiences, perspectives, and wisdom of leaders who have stood at the helm of Aboitiz over the years.

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