The Year I Became ARMY (or something close to it…)

In the past couple of weeks, I was reflecting on how I ended up like this – following the social media updates, listening to song daily, trying to consume content; all by from one group.

I have mentioned before, 2020 has been, in a lack of a better word, traumatic. Suffering huge losses the year prior that, I was determined to overturn that state but 2020 refused to let me do so. Instead, I was stuck with fears of uncertainty both career-wise and health-wise.

By mid year, I tried to cope by drowning the noises in my head with music. Until was until the last quarter of the year that my curiosity was piqued by the buzz surrounding a certain boy group from South Korea. I have heard the name before – BTS, Bangtan Boys ( 방탄소년단). I have seen a few fan arts in Instagram, as well as posters from some stores. I must admit, I wasn’t really into K-pop before as they feel too manufactured, for me. I also want to understand what they are singing and I don’t feel like I have the time to keep checking on translations. Anyway, that time, it has been over a month since they released Dynamite.

After watching the music video in Youtube, I must admit it was catchy. The video and the music could also give a serotonin boost in such a dire time. I tried to learn more about their music. That led me to their NPR Music Tiny Desk (Home) Concert and I was impressed especially after they sang “Spring Day.”

Soon, I found myself trying to consume as much content as I can. I couldn’t say that I was a fan that time. I guess, I needed to see for myself what clicked, how did they have this huge ARMY, and why are they loved by fans all over the world.

Several music videos, concert footage, stage performances and variety show episodes after, I felt like I am completely drawn to these seven young performers. Their relationship dynamics, those which are shown on camera, are endearing. Their charisma and stage presence is evident in every performance. And most importantly, their songs convey relatable and inspiring messages. They shared their dreams and ambitions and at the same time, did not shy away from tackling social issues and mental health problems.

You’ve shown me I have reasons
I should love myself

내 숨 내 걸어온 길 전부로 답해
I answer with all my breath and all the path I’ve walked along
어제의 나 오늘의 나 내일의 나
Yesterday’s me, today’s me, tomorrow’s me

(I’m learning how to love myself)

빠짐없이 남김없이 모두 다 나
Without exception, all together, they are all me

Answer: Love Myself

I also adore how they derive inspiration from things like the 52-Hertz Whale, Pluto’s downgrade to a dwarf planet, and from literary works like Herman Hesse’s Demian. I also admire the imagery in some of their songs.

I read the lyrics of their songs, as much as I can, to fully appreciate their works. And this one touched my heart in such a way that I was pulled out of dark moment.

한 사람에 하나의 역사
In one person, there is one history
한 사람에 하나의 별
In one person, there is one star
70억 개의 빛으로 빛나는
Shining with 7 billion lights,
70억 가지의 world
7 billion worlds
This brings us back to the meaning of 소우주 (microcosmos): something that is smaller than the universe yet is a universe by itself. We all belong to this world but is a world by oneself.
70억 가지의 삶 도시의 야경은
7 billion lives, the night scenery of a city is
어쩌면 또 다른 도시의 밤
perhaps the night scenery of another city
Again, compare the lyrics to those of moonchild: “우린 서로의 야경, 서로의 달 (we’re each other’s night scenery, we’re each other’s moon).”
각자만의 꿈
Let us shine
The dream of one’s own, let us shine

넌 누구보다 밝게 빛나
You shine brighter than anyone
Note (to self): Everyone has (and is) a different world because everyone is different. There is no one that you can be (or should be) compared against in your own world. You are different. You are special. You’re beautiful on your own.
One

소우주 (Mikrokosmos)

The words came to me at the time when I was already questioning the point of my existence. I had so many questions about my life – my past decisions, my current significance, my uncertain future. But there is something with this song that turned a switch in my brain and inspired me to do something about my current situation. I started to draw and paint more. For one, I finished my first two acrylic paintings.

By November, they released their fifth studio album BE, their fifth Korean studio album. BE served like a blanket of comfort and a letter of hope during the COVID-19 pandemic. Inspired by the said album, I decided to work on an art project that I hope to share to the world soon.

So after all that, I think I can say that I am an ARMY (not officially yet) and I am grateful to be reminded to love myself and to keep shining.

For ARMYs, or anyone who wants to, feel free to download these mobile wallpapers. These were from the artworks I made last December for the birthdays of Jin and V.

I also have BE-inspired merch uploaded on Redbubble.

One of my acrylic paintings is to be featured in the Winter 2021 issue of Dream Glow Magazine. If you are interested to read and see works of BTS fans from all over the world, you may order in the link here.

Shine, dream, smile, everyone ~

Note: the lyric translations and notes in this blog post are from doolset lyrics.

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