BTS might be a boy band, but to their ARMY – the devoted fandom that has and will continue to support them through thick and thin – they are so much more. These guys have literally changed lives. They have saved their fans from self-harm. They have brought others out of depression. They have put smiles on the faces of thousands of people. BTS is so incredibly important to their ARMY that these fans will camp out for over 14 hours just to maybe have a chance at snagging tickets to a performance.
After reading dozens of exclusive stories from the BTS fandom, the editors at J-14 have just begun to realize the impact this boy band has had on its listeners. These stories are heartfelt, they are passionate, real, raw, extremely candid and prove just how far BTS' lyrical messages have reached. They have become a band who not only loves themselves but accepts everyone no matter what size, color, race or religion you are. Acceptance is key, which is something the world outside of the BTS fandom could take note from.
Below are several stories from the BTS ARMY which we felt really gave a good sense of how this band has impacted the people listening to their music. The stories have been edited and condensed for clarity.
"One day I discovered BTS and started listening to their songs....(my thoughts during this time: Someone like me can never be loved...someone like me can never have friends...someone like me....) slowly I started changing...their lyrics spoke of experiences, hardships, hard work, love and much more. I started working out while listening to their music, I began to study a lot more, eat healthier...in short...it was until last year my shell or wall broke. I took the courage to step out of my shell, I managed to change the relationship with my parents, I became more social and active. As a fan, I know my limits...for someone who hasn't received love I did not want to be obsessed. I want to think practically and more realistically so now that I know more about BTS and as an ARMY I honestly feel so much confident, motivated and inspired to work harder for my dreams, to love my life, the people around me and be grateful for every moment. There's so many people suffering around the world who need help. I started crying while writing this because I cried and locked myself up in the past...I regret not being myself back then. BTS changed me, if you met the people in my past they would be shocked to see the new me. Each day that goes by and the more I listen to them, I feel more and more confident." – Hina Akram
"I am a 16-year-old mixed race Korean girl (I'm half Afghan). I grew up in Daegu, the same area where V and Suga are from. Growing up I was faced with so many prejudices, I went to school and was verbally abused, I went home and was physically and mentally abused...One night, I came across BTS' debut poster thing and I thought I'd check them out…I wanted to give them a chance. I watched their logs and watched other videos too. To me, BTS was an escape. I could click on their videos and connect with them. I remember one day, I had a panic attack, I refused to go to school. Four days later, they made their debut. Listening to the lyrics of "No More Dream" made me realize that I shouldn't let the haters win. I felt touched that a group that had worked so hard to debut had spoken about dreams and youth, unlike every other artist at the time. BTS helped me realize what I wanted to do in life (sing) and made me feel that I could do that too whilst facing a mental illness because the boys had been so open about it...I'm thankful to them for helping me. For helping find my dream and for giving me that motivation and cheering me up. I will forever love them for that." – Lee Sami
"Ok well, this happened at the AMAs. I didn’t have tickets but I knew from previous years that sometimes they give them out so I got a fancy ball gown and brought my friend and we went anyway. When we got there we saw so many Army's outside doing fan chants and choreography and we joined in…Right as it was close to showtime me and some girls were loudly singing and playing BTS songs. A lady walked up to me and asked me how long I’d been there. I said since 11 a.m. She asked me who my fave in BTS was, I told her taehyung and she was like wow you have so much energy! So she pulled an envelope out of her purse and said she had some vip tickets inside if I wanted to go in. I said yeah and she told me I could bring four people so I chose my friend and three girls I befriended that day. When we got in we noticed we were in BTS' section just a few rows behind them. The same lady walked us up to them and we got to say hello and touch their hands. She told them we were dedicated fans who had kept up the energy outside since the morning and they were impressed. It was the best day of my life because I never thought I’d meet the reasons I’m even happy. I had tried to commit suicide last September and I found BTS this June. It was like everything I was feeling went away. It was the only thing that made me happy was them and their music." – Arianna Smith
"The whole concert was so surreal and went by quick but towards the end, they sang this song I didn't really know back then called road/path…It was the first time I heard that song and they had English translated lyrics on the screen behind them. The song is all about their struggles and fears they face…The song really got to me. You could feel the honesty and pain in their voices. I started crying cause of the lyrics and the looks of genuine relief and passion they had when singing this song…They don't take anything they've received for granted. I just had a new level of respect for them. Its been a crazy hard road for them and just seeing them give their all for ARMY makes me so happy. I know they don't personally know all of us and their celebrities but they're one of the most down to earth genuine bands out there. I'm proud to be a fan of them. Their lyrics stand out to me because its reassuring to know that everyone has those feelings and that I'm not alone. Being that I have anxiety and depression their music always comforts me when they talk about those things they keep me going when I can't anymore." – Diana Sobrevilla
"Back in September 2015, BTS held a US fan meet/mini concert tour. VIP packages included an autograph signing, hi-touch (high five the members in a line), and VIP seats to their mini concert….As I walked in, I was thrown aback. I don't know how to else to describe them-- they looked so HD, glowing...As I walked down the table so many emotions were going through my mind. They each said hi and all I could say was hi back. RM was towards the middle and I finally got the courage to say "I love you so much" but it came out as a whisper and so he didn't hear me. You only had a few seconds with each member so if you weren't prepared, you missed your chance to say anything to them. As I got to the last member (J-hope), the girl in front of me had held onto the poster so there was no poster for J-hope to sign for me and he was looking around very confused and surprised. After he told the staff, Jhope just sat there and smiled while we were waiting for the staff to get another poster. It took around two minutes. I was standing in front of this glorious man for two whole minutes. He was smiling at me and I was smiling back. My mind went completely blank. It felt like bliss for that short amount of time." – Nadia Hamud
"The third time BTS came to America, which was my second time seeing them, was for their official first USA tour called, TRB II 2015 in LA Club Nokia. I did not get VIP tickets at first but I went through so much to be able to get them, I wanted to be front row and see my boys. My friends and I camped out a night before about 14 hours ahead of the show. I was the first one in line but things happened. A lot of fans cut in and I ended up not being first in line anymore but thankfully I was still able to be front row and right in front of Hobie (J-hope) my bias. I had a light up sign for J-hope with his name on it so he could see it and notice me but I wasn't able to see him notice me. I did see everyone else notice my sign! At one point during a song, the youngest member, Jungkook, even stopped in front of me to look at me and just sing to me. It was about six seconds, maybe, which felt like an eternity. I was able to do a heart shape with my hands which is very common in South Korea, and I mouthed to him I love you and he nodded. I was a happy fangirl." – Valeria Espinosa
"I was in middle school and it was the lowest point of my life. My family was falling apart, I was betrayed by my friends, and everything was just horrible. I remember crying to sleep almost every night because I couldn’t deal with all of my problems anymore. I didn’t think that anyone would care if I died, so I decided to end my life. But then one day, I discovered BTS. I was captivated by everything: their music, their message, their looks, their personality, many things that made me grow to love them so much. I did some research and learned about their problems, the difficulties they went through, and messages they are spreading to people about life. I learned to relate to them and respected them as artists. Their music gave me a second chance in life. I hoped that one day, I would get to meet them, have a cup of coffee, and thank them for everything they have done for me along with many other people. I want to be like them one day, influencing people everywhere around the world." – Daisy Nguyen
"I flew all the way from Indiana to California to see them, as I did not want to miss the chance to see the seven men who changed my life just a year prior…They were incredible. BTS started off with "Young Forever," singing behind the circular monitors still. I still couldn't believe that I was actually in LA seeing my idols for the very first time. But nothing could prepare me for when the circular monitors finally rose, revealing BTS to the audience. And to match the rising heat inside the Staples Center, they performed "Fire." I was stunned, my heart pounding out of my chest. I couldn't believe they were real…That was the best night of my life…I got to see them again just earlier this year in Chicago for their Wings tour, and the same butterflies I felt in my stomach at KCON reemerged in the Rosemont Theater. BTS is a movement, a force of nature, and deciding to become an ARMY was a decision I am so thankful for making. Through their music, I was able to finally face my depression that I had been suffering through for years. I went back to college after taking a year off, and now I am a sophomore. I can face the day and follow my dreams, just like BTS." – Mari Cannon
"I didn't know a group like this could impact me the way they did with their lyricism and their messages across their music. I think something crazy I recently did for the sake of these men was I was fortunate enough to go to the American Music Awards. When I was there, I interacted with so many Armys. I was able to see my mutuals whom I had been in contact with for months. I got to hug and embrace each and every one. It was truly a magical moment I will never forget. It was a monumental night as well. We were cheering with our Army bombs in the stands as BTS was debuting their first TV award show performance that night. It was historic. I never thought I would be able to see such a sight. The entire trip is still so vivid every day and in my dreams. I could not believe the gravity these men had carried with them during their time here in the United States. They did so many interviews, performed on different platforms and kept spreading their messages across the world. It's amazing to see K-Pop reaching such extreme heights. I wanted to share this experience with you in hopes you all will continue to shed light on these men." – Deepali Patel
"As we were walking back, I saw Suga, V, Jimin, and Jhope sitting down. I immediately made eye contact with Suga. He noticed how pretty his eyes were in real life and how pale his face was. At that time I was still hesitant and shy so I looked away. Then I made eye contact with Jhope. I caught myself smiling at him and he smiled back. He had a very bright and beautiful smile that felt so welcoming…Jimin noticed I was coming towards them and also gave me a smile while he was grabbing something under his chair. I kept making eye contact with both Jimin and Jhope. I noticed how small and pale Jimin's face was. It looked like he was glowing. As I was approaching them, so many things were going through my head. There was a lot of things I wanted to say such as, "You've inspired me to keep doing what I love" or "Thank you for your inspiring music." But, instead, I walked over with both thumbs up saying, "Overwatch?" Out of all the things I could've said, I was only able to muster the word, "Overwatch." I completely blacked out. My friend said that after I said that, their smiles got bigger." – Rosan Powieza
"They are so good! The first music video I saw was "Blood, Sweat, and Tears" and I was hooked, line, and sinker. I bought some of their albums, but I wouldn’t consider myself an ARMY until the music video for "Spring Day" dropped and I honestly feel like it saved my life...The past winter, I was hospitalized for my poor health due to overwhelming stress, and I was feeling very low and angry for not taking better care of my finances, my health, my life. Their song, "Spring Day", emphasizes the loss of a loved one, but life will get better...So, in the middle of winter, I started walking. Every night, for one hour, I walked in my neighborhood, just listening to their WINGS album and for the first time in a long while, I felt hope. I found a better job with benefits, and I’ve lost two pant sizes. For my career, I’ve applied for JET, the Japan Exchange and Teaching program because of their newest album, LOVE YOURSELF. I’m like, yes, I have permission to love myself, and this is something that I've really wanted, so I will continue to improve my Japanese studies and make a better life for myself." – Jasmin Burton
If you or anyone you know needs help, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline which is open 24 hours a day at 1-800-273-8255.