On April 12, BTS will (at long last) release their next studio album, Map of the Soul: Persona. Some of you have been checking the days off your RM calendar as you light the candles of your J-Hope altar. For those of you who have quite literally no idea what any of the previous words mean, you need this article.
BTS are the biggest boy band in the world, but their hold on American pop culture has been slightly elusive — their appearance at this year’s Grammys, where they received the first nomination for any Korean album, helped to bolster their notoriety Stateside, but there are plenty of people who could use a primer. If you want to be able to pretend like you have any idea what you’re talking about when the album drops (read: takes over the world) in a few weeks, consider the below required reading.
What you should know about the members of BTS (pictured from left to right):
Kim Tae Hyung, 23, was born in Daegu, South Korea, and is also nurturing an acting career during what we can only imagine is his very limited free time away from BTS. He made his debut in 2016 in Hwarang: The Poet Warrior Youth, a historical TV show that’s now off the air. Within the band, he’s known primarily for his vocals, and his many fans will tell you that he’s something of a clothes horse: He’s obsessed with eBay and collects ties. He also went viral after the Grammys because of his now-signature green locks (just Google “the guy with the green hair”).
Min Yoon Gi is the second-oldest member of the group, at 26, and was also born in Daegu. He’s the producer of the group, and was first recruited by Big Hit Entertainment, the company behind BTS, to be in charge of all things technical before joining as a full-fledged member. He still produces, occasionally for BTS and occasionally for other artists, and is one of the band’s rappers. Suga’s nickname is slang for “shooting guard,” his position from his early basketball days.
Kim Seok Jin is the oldest one in the group (he’s also 26, but was born before Suga), and hails from Gwacheon, South Korea. If you’re wondering why he’s so blindingly attractive, we don’t have an answer for that, but we can assure you that you’re not alone — he was recruited to be a member of BTS while he was literally walking down the street, all because of his good looks. He’s now known as Worldwide Handsome, so there’s that.
Dare we say he is the one whose BTS name is the easiest to remember, simply because it’s actually taken from his given name. Jeon Jung Kook is the youngest, at 21, also goes by “golden maknae” in an ode to his youth. He’s unofficially known as the main vocalist of the band and once wanted to be a professional badminton player. Same, Jung Kook.
Kim Nam Joon, whose band nickname stands for Rap Monster, is 24 and was born in Goyang, South Korea. His moniker comes because he was a very real MC before he joined BTS (he was discovered because he was moving up in the local rap scene), but the most important thing to know is that he’s the de facto leader of the group. He speaks fluent English — learned from watching episodes of Friends on DVD — and serves as the band’s spokesperson during interviews with the American media. Oh, and those glasses definitely broke the Internet on Grammy night.
Park Ji Min, 23, grew up in Busan, South Korea, which makes him the most cosmopolitan of the crew. He was the ninth most-tweeted-about celebrity in the world last year, but you probably know him for his fun hair. He studied dance at a performing arts school growing up, and now focuses on vocals for BTS.
Jung Ho Seok, 25, is from Gwangju, South Korea. Before he joined BTS he won several dance competitions, although he focuses on rapping nowadays. A year ago he released his first solo mixtape, Hope World, and his best fun fact is that he used to be in an underground dance group known as Neuron.
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