DUBAI: K-pop megastars BTS told fans they were taking a break from the supergroup to focus on their solo careers, citing exhaustion and the pressures of stratospheric success in an emotional video appearance – and Arab fans have flooded social media platforms in light of the news.
The Grammy-nominated septet’s label HYBE pushed back on Wednesday as their share price went into freefall, telling AFP that the pop juggernaut would still be working together.
The seven members of BTS, credited with generating billions of dollars for the South Korean economy, dropped the bombshell on Tuesday, telling fans that they were “exhausted” and needed time apart.
“We’re going into an off phase now,” said Suga, 29, speaking Korean to his bandmates at a group dinner, a video of which was posted to the group’s official YouTube channel.
The clip included English subtitles, which used the word “hiatus,” but HYBE quickly disputed that, saying group activities would not be suspended.
“They will be doing team and individual projects simultaneously,” a representative for the label, whose share price was down 27 percent early Wednesday, told AFP.
In the video, RM, 27, said they were “exhausted” and that they “didn’t know what kind of group we were anymore.”
“The problem with K-pop and the whole idol system is that they don’t give you time to mature,” he said, referring to South Korea’s notoriously hard-driving music business model.
“Somehow, it’s become my job to be a rapping machine,” he said, adding that this made him feel “trapped.”
“I wanted to shed that for a little bit, but the world wouldn’t let me be.”
Jimin, 26, said the members are “slowly trying to figure things out now.”
“I think that’s why we’re going through a rough patch right now, we’re trying to find our identity and that’s an exhausting and long process.”
By the end of the dinner, several of the members of the group behind “Dynamite” and “Butter” had grown tearful as they voiced gratitude for their supporters, a fandom known online as the “ARMY.”
J-Hope, 28, said the group “should spend some time apart to learn how to be one again.”
“I hope you don’t see this is a negative thing,” the artist implored fans. “And see that it’s a healthy plan.”
“It’s not that we’re disbanding – we’re just living apart for a while,” said Suga.
Jungkook, 24, said, “we promise we will return someday even more mature than we are now,” and asked for the “blessing” of fans.
The group’s Arab fan base’s online reaction was tearful but supportive, with tens of thousands of comments quickly posted on Twitter.
“I was studying and took a break on Tik Tok. I read BTS broke up and I don’t know why I started crying,” tweeted a fan, while another said: “It’s nice that BTS is taking a break to rest, but I didn’t like that everyone has a solo and they won’t come back as a group until after a while… its sad I swear.”
“The thing is, as much as BTS need this break a few army pages on here do too: translators, chart pages… even fanbases,” tweeted one user. “They work endlessly to pump content for us all so I hope with this they’ll be able to find balance or even take up some things that they’ve been holding back on.”
Another supporter tried comforting fans by saying: “BTS will not break up or take a break. They will work on their individual and collective projects, but the focus will be on their individual work mostly, and this is only for a certain time.”
BTS has said they were going on short breaks before, first in 2019 and later in December 2021.
The news comes just days after the group released “Proof,” an anthology album that included a new single, “Yet To Come (The Most Beautiful Moment).”
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