Nine years at the top: the unstoppable rise of BTS

By: AFP
Published: 05:00 PM, 15 Jun, 2022
Nine years at the top: the unstoppable rise of BTS
Caption: A fan poses for photos during an exhibition of artwork on K-pop group BTS in Jakarta.
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At the peak of their success, K-pop megastars BTS made an emotional announcement to fans: they were taking a break from the supergroup to focus on their solo careers.

The bombshell announcement late Tuesday night sent shockwaves through the septet's global fanbase, and caused the share price of their label HYBE to plunge, even as it pushed back, saying the bandmates would still work together.

AFP takes a look back at the band's record-setting run to global superstardom:

- 2013 Debut -

On June 13, 2013, BTS debuts as a seven-member boy band.

The members -- J-Hope, Jimin, Jin, Jungkook, RM, Suga and V -- are selected through a combination of recruitment and auditions, and undergo intensive training before the group's launch.

- 2017 US breakthrough -

Already stars in their native South Korea, the band sets their sights on the world's largest music market: the United States.

They become the first K-pop act to perform on the televised American Music Awards.

- 2018 Billboard success -

In a vivid illustration of the band's growing appeal, BTS becomes the first K-pop group to top the US album charts.

In May 2018, the band led the Billboard 200 -- which rank albums via sales, downloads and streams -- with their album "Love yourself: Tear". 

- United Nations -

As their cultural clout grows, BTS are invited to speak at the United Nations. They use the platform to tell young people to be themselves.

Addressing a packed hall at the launch of a UNICEF youth campaign, group leader RM urges youth to "just speak yourself" regardless of their race, gender or identity.

- 2019 UK chart success -

The band sets another record, becoming the first Korean act to top Britain's album chart with "Map of the soul: Persona".

The milestone comes ahead of the group's two sold-out shows at London's famed Wembley Stadium.

- First break -

After topping charts in the US and Britain, BTS takes their first "long-term" break since their debut, citing a need to "recharge and refresh".

But the band is back within weeks, with a tour that included a show in Saudi Arabia.

- 2020 'Hot 100' - 

In September 2020, BTS becomes the first South Korean act to dominate the top US singles chart, with their English-language hit "Dynamite" going to number one on the Billboard Hot 100.

The achievement comes hours after BTS beat American musical heavyweights including Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande and Taylor Swift to score the Best Pop award at MTV Video Music Awards.

The group goes on to top the US singles chart repeatedly with other songs including "Butter" and "Permission to Dance".

- Grammy nominations -

BTS become the first Koreans to receive a Grammy nomination.

The group is nominated for best performance by a pop duo or group for its English-language hit "Dynamite", but fails to win.

BTS is nominated again in 2021, but after being disappointed, Suga says: "I'm thankful there are still barriers and challenges we can try to work to overcome."

- 2021 Artist of the Year -

BTS becomes the first Asian group to win Artist of the Year at the American Music Awards, the world's largest fan-voted awards show.

The septet also scoops awards for Favourite Pop Duo or Group and Favourite Pop Song for their hit "Butter" at the glitzy ceremony is Los Angeles.

The win marks the band's ninth AMA.

- Second break -

In December 2021, HYBE announces that BTS will take a "second official extended period of rest" in order to recharge and seek fresh inspiration.

The band are quickly performing again, with a sold-out series of concerts in Seoul in March 2022, their first post-pandemic performances in their native land.

- 2022 White House -

In June 2022, BTS visits the White House for a meeting with US President Joe Biden.

The group uses the trip to call out growing anti-Asian hate crimes in the United States.

- A new hiatus? -

BTS announce they're taking a break from the group to focus on their solo careers in an emotional video appearance.

Speaking to fans in a YouTube video marking the band's ninth anniversary, the members say they are "exhausted" and need time apart.

Their label HYBE pushes back, saying BTS will be doing "team and individual projects simultaneously".

AFP

Agence France-Presse is an international news agency.