A love letter to Korean pop sensation BTS and an ode to fandom. An Atlantic Edition, featuring long-form journalism by Atlantic writers, drawn from contemporary articles or classic storytelling from the magazine’s 165-year archive.
The supersonic rise of the Korean pop group BTS may seem enigmatic to some, but for Lenika Cruz, senior culture editor at The Atlantic, their worldwide fame is obvious. As Cruz argues in On BTS: Pop Music, Fandom, Sincerity, the group’s trajectory—debuting on a relatively obscure label in Korea to becoming a global household name in just a few years—is a natural result of their authenticity, artistry, energy, social conscientiousness, and general coolness. As a non-English-language band finding record-breaking international success, BTS is helping usher in a fresh, more inclusive era in the music industry. In this love letter to the once-in-a-generation pop sensation, Cruz narrates her own unexpected journey into the fandom, and in doing so might welcome you in, too.