4. Fandom Response


In this section, we look at some of the loudest responses of  K-ARMYs, I-ARMYs, and J-ARMYs surrounding the media storm surrounding Jimin and the T-shirt on social media. We have worked to contextualize the responses from K-ARMY, J-ARMY, and I-ARMY so that people from any background can better understand how these groups generally reacted.

Evaluating a T-shirt

K-pop fans in Korea have established a distinct culture over the past couple of decades, and international fans have adapted such mindsets and customs in their own ways. As one might imagine, the cultural disparity has resulted in the divergence of responses among Korean BTS fans (“K-ARMYs”), Japanese BTS fans (“J-ARMYs”), and international BTS fans (“I-ARMYs”), as we could observe at each turn of events as the controversy unfolded.

When the screenshots of the shirt surfaced in October, the initial response from many K-ARMYs was to ignore it. They felt there was no need to bring attention to it and that doing so would only subject them to trolls and antis in an age of relentless online harassment and fandom politics. Some would merely say this is ignoring a non-issue; others, a case of sweeping it under the rug.  

Indeed, international fans of K-pop are increasingly convinced that censorship of Korean news material occurs at every stage: from Korean fans, from fan translators, and even from the most protective of international fans who often ignore criticism or brand it as unfair, even when it is constructive or valid.

While there can certainly be selective bias at play in order for fans to focus on the positive aspects of their idols, such dismissive remarks reflect a lack of knowledge about the constant barrage of articles by Korean media and forum groups that fans sift through on a daily basis.

For example, while there are many well-established news sources that report on entertainment news, a vast array of “articles” are from forums where fans primarily post and comment (Nate PANN, theqoo, instiz, etc.), or from “news” media (Insight, WikiTree, e.g.) that draw their unsubstantiated material from social media. Thus, articles translated by English online outlets such as Soompi or Allkpop, and by fans of varying language skill, are always selective in nature, whether it be by degree of circulation or by what catches personal interest.

In this case, several factors prompted many fans to see the initial coverage as a non-issue in the beginning: the T-shirt had not been worn recently, the news had not been picked up by many outlets, and the story, such as it was, was unworthy of more than a few lines when first being noticed. Some Korean fans may have even recognized that if international fans caught wind of the articles, the conversation would quickly get ugly due to the nature of the issue, and they kept it quiet for that reason. So it was considered a non-issue – or at least by those who had the liberty of making a decision, it was kept as a non-issue.

However, two unexpected interventions soon drastically changed how this controversy was perceived. First, it was covered by English online outlets that focus on Asian news such as Sang (2018) [6], giving it a wider viewership. Second, comments from Japanese forums that negatively referenced BTS and this shirt were translated into English and posted on general K-pop forums, which meant that the story first gained greater traction internationally from outside of the BTS fandom.

Because of this, news rife with misinformation and disinformation spread in a skewed manner. Much disgust was expressed in regards to what had already been deemed an “atomic bomb T-shirt.” I-ARMYs began to rally in panic. Some encouraged one another to “clear Jimin’s searches,1” while others wrote passionate defenses on the shirt. Those who desired to place it in a wider political context were largely considered illogical.

Of course, whether the shirt and the wearing of it warranted the controversy was also a point of contention. The average international onlooker or fan who sought to understand the issue was particularly concerned by two points: First, why was there a seemingly stubborn sentiment from Korean fans that refused to be apologetic, pressured Big Hit Entertainment not to cede in this matter, and made it an issue of nationalistic pride? Second, why did it seem like there was a lack of remorse about the T-shirt in some circles?

K-ARMYs Responses and Frustrations: To Clarify and Defend

When the news of Music Station’s abrupt cancellation of BTS’ appearance was released, it sparked outrage among K-ARMYs. Not only was the last-minute cancellation perceived as disrespectful to BTS and the Big Hit staff, but the show’s reason – Jimin’s wearing of a T-shirt with an image of an atomic bomb mushroom cloud – seemed to reflect that TV Asahi was making a political move directed by the Japanese government, and was also legitimizing a campaign led by Japanese ultranationalists.

Many K-ARMYs wanted to clarify that the message of the shirt celebrates the liberation of Korea, not the atomic bomb itself, and that, in fact, the depiction of the atomic bomb was merely an image to convey the sequence of events that were instrumental in leading to liberation. Calling the shirt an “atomic bomb shirt” (“원폭티”) rather than “liberation shirt” (“광복티”) was a sticking point, as they believed the moniker framed the issue in such a way that the entire message of the shirt was twisted to be either celebrating the atomic bomb or mocking its victims.

To those fans with a strong sense of national pride, though, BTS had become martyrs standing up for their country, voicing themselves against Japan. In fact, the shirt in question was celebrated by many as an appropriately firm declaration of patriotism. The shirt even sold out online (yckim214, 2018 [7]), but much of the support for the label was retracted once they felt that the merchant was taking advantage of the situation.

Further, fans with this particular view did not think an apology from Big Hit or BTS was due in any sense. They not only perceived the imagery of the shirt to merely be a factual depiction of historical events that led to the liberation of Korea, but also believed that it was preposterous to say that the victims of decades of atrocities perpetrated by Japan cannot celebrate the demise of their aggressors in the war. Some also argued that there was no reason to apologize for such a trivial matter when the Japanese government refuses to take an apologetic stance toward the victims of its war crimes.

Even fans who did believe that the design of the shirt was in poor taste were ambivalent about whether an apology was in order, as there was nothing desirable about giving the right-wing movement in Japan any validation, and because an apology could be misconstrued and misrepresented as a national apology from Korea to Japan.

Though not a majority opinion, it should be noted that there were wary Korean voices amid the louder currents that emphasized the need to depoliticize this issue and look at it from a humanitarian angle. This line of thinking argued that the image of the atomic bomb, regardless of the T-shirt’s intention, was an undeniable display of insensitivity, which could not be justified under any political narrative. They contended that the victims’ pain should not be trivialized or dismissed, especially since the catastrophe took thousands of Korean lives as well.

Upon the issuance of Big Hit’s statement, fans appreciated that the apology portion specifically addressed victims of the atomic bomb, and not Japan as a whole. But those who had associated BTS with being the national symbol of South Korea2 considered it somewhat of a betrayal. To them, addressing the issue with any trace of an apology was tantamount to bowing down to Japan and chasing after Japanese capital over their values as Korean nationals. Many of those fans congregated in closed online communities, where they devised a plan to flood social media with a leaflet stating their demand for a new statement from Big Hit and to launch  a campaign for large-scale boycotts.

These plans, however, were foiled as other fans caught wind and reacted quickly to circulate another leaflet that preemptively counteracted these campaigns by advising fans to be wary of propaganda designed to incite division in the fandom.

Moreover, K-ARMYs had recently experienced a contentious online movement of riled-up fans who wanted to communicate to Big Hit their opposition to the inclusion of the single “Bird,” penned by Yasushi Akimoto, a Japanese songwriter with supposed right-wing political leanings, in BTS’ new Japanese album (Kwak, 2018 [3]). Many fans who were frustrated with such practices of aggression had wished to prevent repeating such missteps.

Once the dust settled since the issuance of Big Hit’s statement, some fans reflected on how things unfolded among Korean fans at each step of the way and what those responses signified. While there was some Korean press coverage that proclaimed these events exposed Japan’s horrific past acts to the international community and raised consciousness about the Korean side of history, this was refuted by K-ARMYs who categorized such a claim as naïve, wishful thinking. In fact, they maintained that close examination of the international coverage revealed nothing more than a sobering reality check on just how poorly the Korean side of the WWII history had been documented and communicated to the larger audience, as many international perspectives by and large neglected the historical complexities of Korean experience.

For instance, many international outlets included Japanese reports and allegations of BTS mocking Japanese victims of the atomic bombs without critically questioning the implicit notions in the presented narrative. While the insensitivity of the use of the image is not in question, the insistence that the shirt was designed to mock victims of the atomic bombs contributes to the harmful, denigrating, and ongoing erasure of Korean victims of the atomic bombs from historical memory; Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings claimed around 100,000 Korean victims, among whom 15,000 were children. The idea that Japanese were the only victims of the atomic bombs still to this day looms over and actively threatens these Korean victims’ every day livelihoods as they struggle to get their due governmental and societal support (Lee, 2018 [4]; English translation).

It should also be duly recognized that thousands of these victims were double victims of unforgettable violence: first as victims of forced labor and second as survivors of the atomic bombs. Many of them had been taken away forcibly from their homeland to work at Japanese shipyards and factories before the atomic catastrophe struck (Palmer, 2015 [5]).

Because international responses failed to introduce such historical complexities and expand on the reduced and arguably one-sided narrative, many Koreans expressed deep frustration, along with an internal reflection on just how poorly the Korean experience of history has been communicated to the broader audience.

But K-ARMY make up only one part of the collective fandom – and the reactions from the international branches of ARMY bring other lessons.

I-ARMYs Responses and Frustrations: To Rally and Learn

The international fan response to the shirt was multifaceted due to the simple fact that the collective I-ARMY is massive. I-ARMYs hail from all around the globe and, as such, hold different perceptions and impressions of the imagery of the atomic bombings and the events themselves.

Many did not feel they had enough knowledge about the relationship between Korea and Japan, about the Pacific front of WWII, or about current politics, to form an opinion of their own. More than that, though, was the popularity of the idea that fans who are not Korean or Japanese should not weigh in on the situation, which led many to keep their thoughts private.

However, that idea did not extend to everyone. Some initially reacted to the imagery of the shirt with shock; some were offended; some expressed disgust in what they perceived to be hypocrisy in such a shirt being worn by someone promoting UNICEF’s #ENDviolence campaign; some quickly identified the shirt as celebrating Korean liberation from Japanese imperialism and took to social media to explain the context of the shirt in order to destigmatize it and educate others. Despite the range of responses, I-ARMYs overall wanted to see Big Hit issue an apology in order to quash the story.

When drama arises surrounding BTS, Big Hit often stays quiet and waits for the issue to play out in the news cycle before releasing positive news. In these instances, I-ARMYs look to K-ARMYs for an explanation in order to understand the issue from the perspective of the nation where BTS is from, which was the case here as well. But as a diverse group of fans comes together to discuss politics, there were wildly different ways of interpreting the message of not just the shirt, but the history referenced by the shirt.

Meanwhile, ARMYs wary of nationalist narratives urged people to refrain from justifying violence and asked others to recognize humanity before accepting or spreading nationalist logic in order to defend or decry Jimin’s decision to wear a certain T-shirt.

To do this, the line of thinking was often to consider the motivations for why the U.S. dropped atomic bombs on Japan, to think about how the bombs affected not just Japan and the U.S., but also the countries Japan colonized, and to encourage people to question nationalist narratives in order to form a common understanding.

An encouraging, proactive action was spurred by this conversation when I-ARMYs recognized their gaps in knowledge and voiced their need to educate themselves. This led to many ARMYs working together to share knowledge, recommend reading material, and work to expand their understanding of world history according to cultural narratives that were not their own.

While these discussions were occuring online, it became clear to many I-ARMYs that Big Hit was between a rock and a hard place. If they made a statement, it would be seen as an apology, and many were no longer certain there was anything to apologize for; but if the company didn’t make a statement, the media would potentially keep the story alive.

That said, Big Hit wasn’t entirely silent – they were simply silent on the news surrounding Jimin and the divisive shirt. Though none of the company’s official accounts posted on November 8, on November 9 – the day the international news agencies broke the stories – Big Hit3 and official BTS-adjacent accounts posted the following:

Friday, November 9

9.25AM, @BigHitEnt: Article that recorded BTS’ LOVE YOURSELF 結 ‘ANSWER’ reaching a new record of 2.03 million copies since its release.

4PM, @bts_bighit: Simultaneous release of Jimin-related content – a series of photos titled, “#BTS Try It Like Jimin!” that was posted on on fancafe, and a video titled in English, “Today JIMIN has not done ‘JIMIN’,” which was released on YouTube.

6PM, @BT21_: The account for the BTS-curated line of cartoon characters for LINE released a drawing that included Chimmy – the character created by Jimin – and Shooky, SUGA’s creation, with a caption that read,

#Harmonica of mine 😔
Whistle of yours 😚
Perfect harmony
Blow all worries away~ 😌🎵
#Fruit_of_CHIMMYs_efforts
#CHIMMY #SHOOKY #BT214

Saturday, November 10

5:47PM, @BTS_twt: “💜 #JinHyungsHand”. A picture of Jin making a heart with his hands, this was the first tweet posted by a BTS member since the news of the shirt broke worldwide.

7:11PM, @BTS_twt: “We’ll be back ✈️”. Two selfies of RM before flying to Japan. This is a common occurrence from BTS to signal to fans that they are leaving in good spirits.

7:37PM, @BTS_twt: #JIMIN #Hobi. An additional selfie of the two members on the plane posted by Jimin.

Sunday, November 11

4:28PM, @BTS_twt: “가을아 가지마” (Autumn, don’t leave) 😭🍂. Two selfies of RM walking along an autumn path. The location of the photos is Yun Dong-ju’s Museum. A Korean resistance poet who died in a Japanese prison in February 1945, Yun Dong-ju is a figure who looms large in Korean memory and literature. Despite the fact that there was a wariness to assume intention among fans, many fans, and even media, interpreted RM’s tweet as a subtle message regarding the situation (Channel A News (Korea), 2018) [2]).

On November 12, the SWC published a statement which turned the media conversation to one filled with disinformation. ARMYs, unsurprisingly, went on the defensive.

Those with a strong grasp of the claims and correct information commented on news publications’ social media posts with long, earnest threads about how the information being reported was incorrect; some simply commented “delete this.”

Some emailed editors to appeal to their senses of journalistic integrity in hopes of winning a correction to the stories and encouraged other ARMYs to do the same; some claimed that all of the news outlets were publishing stories because they wanted the traffic ARMY would bring to their sites. They suggested that the best course of action was to only engage with news stories sympathetic to BTS and to ignore or share screenshots of the less-than-sympathetic articles.

Some panicked, concerned that BTS might lose their UNICEF ambassadorship, a point of particular pride; some were angry; some maintained that unless you were Korean, Japanese, or Jewish, you shouldn’t speak your opinion on the matter.

But overall for I-ARMY, the change in discourse further cemented the idea that an authoritative statement from Big Hit defending BTS and clarifying the allegations were needed.

When Big Hit released a lengthy statement on November 13, I-ARMYs at large felt a sense of relief. The entertainment agency was able to find a way to apologize to bomb victims and anyone distressed by the imagery without making a political statement, and defended the BTS members. There was also immense appreciation throughout the fandom for the fact that Big Hit also used the statement to reiterate their company motto – “music and artists for healing.”

J-ARMYs’ Responses and Frustrations: To Support and Learn5

November 2018 was supposed to see a series of happy events for J-ARMYs. A new Japanese single Fake Love/Airplane Pt. 2 was due November 7 (JST), and the Dome Tour would commence on November 13 (JST) in Tokyo Dome. However, things started to deteriorate in September when Big Hit announced that one of the songs, “Bird,” was being removed from the Japanese album following vehement opposition to the group’s collaboration with a Japanese lyricist who is believed to have right-wing views.

Dark clouds were looming when the term “atomic bomb” was beginning to be associated with BTS. Up until mid-October 2018, however, those who were aware of the emerging reactions to the T-shirt were limited to either fans or those constantly on the lookout for any Korea-related news (both with positive and malignant intentions). The initial reactions from J-ARMYs were seen on social media in October 2017. At the time, some were even curious as to why Jimin had any connections to atomic bombs at all. As time passed, the image was shared on social media more widely. While some J-ARMYs pointed at the possibility that Jimin may have been unaware of the implication of the design, others objected by saying that he should have known what it meant. Some even described Jimin and BTS as “anti-Japanese.”

On October 20, Katsuya Takasu, a renowned doctor and the director of Takasu Clinic in Tokyo, denounced Jimin for wearing the said T-shirt in a series of tweets to his 414,000 followers. Despite being denounced by the Simon Wiesenthal Center in the past, Katsuya later posted nine tweets on a single day to urge the SWC to take action to publicly criticize the group. Makoto Sakurai, the founder of ultra-nationalist organization Zaitokukai, expressed anger toward “Genbaku Shonendan” (“Atomic Bomb Boy Scouts”) and revealed that he had sent protests to TV Asahi for allowing BTS to perform on Music Station (Sakurai, 2018 [13]). The comments by these two public figures did not go unnoticed: multiple media outlets as well as online forums began to report and question the issue (Daily News Online, 2018 [4]; BTS Matome, 2018 [2]).

It was not until TV Asahi announced the cancellation of BTS’ performance on November 8 by directly referencing the T-shirt, however, that the news became public on an unprecedented scale. The following day, major TV stations, as well as respected newspapers and media outlets such as Asahi Shinbun, Yahoo News, Tokyo Sport, and Sankei, covered the incident (Asahi Shinbun Digital, 2018 [3]). The words “Boudan Shonendan” (Bangtan Sonyeondan in Japanese) entered the national psyche, but not in the most ideal way for fans.

Waves of sadness and anxiety took over J-ARMYs, whose desperation quickly exacerbated. There were mainly two reactions: some defended Jimin by pointing out that he had worn the shirt only once and that the commotion over it was excessive (Kubota, 2018 [10]), while Yukashiki Sekai called attention to the “[anger stirred] among some Japanese BTS fans, who called [the T-shirt] an ‘insult’” (Yukashiki Sekai, 2018 [17]).Their loud demands for an apology perhaps stem from other events that have taken place during BTS’ four years of Japanese promotions, in which, some considered, an apology was due but Big Hit had failed to provide one. Fans were also simply confounded as to why the T-shirt was brought up almost two years later, and why Big Hit Entertainment chose not to issue a statement at the time (Kyarikone News, 2018 [11]).

Outside the fandom, those who were vocal about the issue mostly demanded an apology of some form. It took over two weeks from the time the controversy began in Japan for Big Hit Entertainment to release a thorough explanation and apology regarding the situation. Some fans and members of the public were content with the statement and saw it as reaching a settlement. Others with ultra-nationalistic inclinations saw it as insufficient and claimed that it was not directed to anyone rather than the Japanese general public who felt uncomfortable with the T-shirt. The latter also similarly expressed discontent toward Jimin’s comment during the concert on November 13, in which the idol did not use direct words of apology but rather referred to the fact that he had caused trouble and concern (Herman, 2018 [7]). They pointed out the poor taste of the shirt’s design and raised concerns about the overprotective fans who blindly affirm everything BTS does (Ito, 2018 [8]). But the most vocal voices were the negative ones, and consequently the general atmosphere was against BTS.

Media outlets were also eager to capture and perpetuate the image of “uncontrollable fans” brainwashed by their love for their idols. Problems concerning dissenting opinion toward the public began when some fans blamed Takasu’s outspoken reaction for Music Station’s cancellation of BTS’ performance. From there, some turned to more violent rhetoric and even threatened Takasu’s life (Japan Times Digital, 2018 [9]; Editorial Department of Career Connection, 2018 [5]).  

Following these threats, a Japanese fan working at a media rental store indirectly threatened a man who presumably labeled the “male idols responsible for Kōhaku’s cancellation of Korean performances” “wrong in the head”. The worker tweeted that she would not forgive the customer, and suggested that she had the power to release the personal information of the customer including their “name” and “sexual preferences.” A bomb threat was then sent within the next 36 hours to her school, demanding immediate punishment of the student for her alarming tweets.6

Non-fans and fans alike agreed that such extreme responses further exacerbated the situation. Regarding fans’ inappropriate responses, there was also mutual agreement that while these sentiments did not highlight the fandom as a whole, they only served to undermine BTS and their fans’ images in Japan (Kyarikone News, 2018 [11]).

Other reactions from J-ARMYs toward the general public carried varying degrees of concern and resentment. It was undeniable that some BTS fans agreed with the public’s negative reactions and chose to leave the fandom. The louder voices however, came from those who believed that the T-shirt scandal had unfairly dragged BTS into the complex political ties of Japan and Korea. Subsequently and partially consequently, a majority of fans chose to take a non-reactive approach in order to avoid fanning the flames of the dissenters (Shin, 2018 [14]). This was visible on the first day of the group’s Tokyo Dome concert when demonstrators and media went largely ignored by fans who were instead eager to file into the concert venue (Kyarikone News 2018 [11]).

The T-shirt controversy also inevitably invited the reminiscence of the Japanese Empire’s imperialistic and barbarous past war alongside the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. There is a fundamental reason  why the negative response toward the T-shirt gained huge traction, and this lies in the education system of Japan itself. Japanese history textbooks’ treatment of its country’s war atrocities, or lack thereof, does not go without criticism. It is difficult to find the effects of imperialism and colonization in these textbooks despite their essential role in Japan’s growth following the Meiji Restoration; the extent to which and how the textbooks describe the details vary, and this has been a controversial issue in Japan. As Daniel Sneider writes, when such events are mentioned, textbooks “offer a rather dry chronology of events without much interpretive or analytical narrative” (Sneider, 2013 [16]).

For example, comfort women are either not covered at all, or their role is squandered to essentially a footnote. In this way, limited perspective is given of the colonized countries. This is partly due to the formality of school entrance exams, in which students are required to memorize only factual information such as the names of events and when and where it happened, as well as to avoid overt interpretation (Sneider, 2012 [15]). Abundant resources outside of textbooks that outline different opinions or bring about other perspectives of the war are also often overlooked in Japan as a result of both intense nationalism and simple lack of interest.

On the contrary, the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the impacts of U.S. occupation during the post-war years are heavily emphasized in curriculum. Schools often organize excursions to the Peace Memorial Museum in Hiroshima so that students can hear the stories of the survivors. In the process, the youth learn to be advocates of peace as to avoid the repetition of the use of nuclear weapons. Indeed, Japan has become a relatively peaceful and orderly nation, and most, as a result, have become apolitical and unaware of the impact of Japan’s past atrocities. As Tamaki Matsuoka, a former history teacher and scholar, points out, “[Japan’s education] system has been creating young people who get annoyed by all the complaints that China and South Korea make about war atrocities because they are not taught what they are complaining about” (Oi, 2013 [12]).

Amongst J-ARMYs, there were many people who noticed the need to learn history, encouraged each other to stay strong, and learned the perspective of the Korean side from K-ARMYs’ sincere and patient messages. Although supportive fans also had various opinions about the T-shirt itself, their general conclusion was to believe in BTS’ future and to keep loving “our boys” and their music. Although a majority of J-ARMYs could only reach the international responses to the issue via translations due to language barriers, encouraging messages from I-ARMYs and K-ARMYs were circulated (sometimes with Japanese translation). J-ARMYs who read them realized once again that BTS and their love for the group connect ARMYs around the world – no matter their nationalities.

ARMYs Unify

The aftermath of the statement saw more headlines abound, as well as the emergence of projects spearheaded by ARMY. While K-ARMYs began donating to House of Sharing, an organization that supports former comfort women, I-ARMYs began #ProjectBuy23.

In contrast to the divisive nature of opinions on the T-shirt and whether or not Jimin should have worn it, these projects managed to unite much of the fandom. The success lay in the recognition of basic values that all ARMYs are proud to stand by.

Almost as soon as TV Asahi announced the cancellation of BTS’ appearance on Music Station, K-ARMYs started donating to House of Sharing. Some of them chose to make a direct donation to the facility while some raised funds to make in-kind donations to purchase winter jackets and subsidize court fees for the survivors. K-ARMYs’ large-scale donations were soon picked up by Korean media. Yonhap News reported on November 15 that 130 separate donations had been deposited to the House of Sharing account since November 8.7 I-ARMYs joined the donation on November 16, earning its due spotlight in Korean media.

After Big Hit’s statement was issued, I-ARMYs championed #ProjectBuy23, which urged ARMYs to buy and stream the song “2! 3!” from BTS’ 2016 album Wings. As the first official ‘fan-song’ written by BTS for their fans, it relays the promise that “there will be many good days ahead” and that “there will be more good days than bad.” It asks ARMYs to respond in affirmation by counting “1, 2, 3.” This meaningful song saw a 17,610 percent increase in sales, which led to it debuting at #1 on the Billboard World Album Music Chart and recording #47 on the Digital Sales Chart for the week ending November 15 (Benjamin, 2018 [1]).


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FOOTNOTES

  1. A process where fans search positive words along with “Jimin” in order to try and change the automated suggestions that pop up when someones types “Jimin” into a search bar.
  2. This is not based solely on their global popularity: BTS are ambassadors for Seoul Tourism; were the recipients of a congratulatory letter from President Moon Jae-in when their album debut at #1 on the Billboard 200 chart in May; spoke at the UN Headquarters in New York, an event attended by First Lady Kim Jung-sook, who gifted each member a bespoke presidential watch; were invited to perform at the 2018 Korea-France Friendship Concert where the members met President Moon; and also in 2018 were awarded the Presidential Order of Cultural Merit Award.
  3. Do note that news regarding announcements and logistics of the Tokyo Dome concerts and other Japan-based events continued on the @BTS_jp account.
  4. The BT21 account had been posting artwork of every day from November 5–November 9, and this particular Chimmy and Shooky piece was the second in a series began on November 8 that showcased Chimmy learning to play the harmonica. Though the timing was likely coincidental, the November 9 post felt particularly poignant. After posting on November 9, BT21 paused releasing new artwork until November 12.
  5. As mentioned in the Authors’ Note, this section is written by J-ARMYs who reached us after the first release of this project.
  6. We have decided to omit the references to protect the fan’s privacy.
  7. See Appendix 7-2 for details and reference.