Here’s Why BTS Has Such A Strong ARMY In South Africa


Fandoms are built and sustained because of the meaning that they bring to fans lives. K-pop groups have some of the most ardent fan bases around the world. The artists have often been quoted saying they would be nowhere without their fans. There is no more passionate fanbase than the BTS ARMY (Adorable Representative M.C for Youth) You wouldn’t say but ARMY in South Africa is growing quite rapidly. SHAAZIA EBRAHIM and FATIMA MOOSA chatted to some SA ARMY to find out why they’re obsessed with the seven Korean Bangtan Boys.

When and how did you get into loving the amazingness that is BTS?

It was July 2015 because that is when I started trying to avoid my thesis. A friend on Tumblr was really into K-pop and showed me a dance practice video. I was like, oh I think I love all of these boys, what do you know about them? She made a whole primer for me with descriptions, links to videos, a list of music videos. She was very serious. That was the beginning of the end. Ndapwa, 29

One day I was on YouTube and their Fire MV [music video] popped up and I said this looks cool. So I went and researched their lyrics and saw that they had a lot of songs that had meaning. And I thought this is an amazing group. Nduvho, 16

I got introduced to BTS by my 14-year-old daughter during the AMAs. I was thankful she had moved off the Dolan twins. I think what really got me was their clean image and the message they send through their music which is not all about sex and drugs. They still celebrate who they are and haven’t changed to fit the Western image. Beth, 48

I saw them from a YouTuber called Lilly Singh. She made a reaction video called My Parents React To BTS in 2016. Ketsia, 22

I checked out the K-pop chart in January 2017 and I saw Not Today which is one of their songs. I really liked their choreography and the actual song so I decided to check more of their songs and their bangtan bombs – and I was hooked. Shabnam, 28

I remember I was having a bad day. I just closed my essay and went online and saw the Serendipity trailer. It was just such a calming, relaxing and beautiful music video. I felt so at ease at the end. And I was like this is my escapism. It was a happy mistake. Tasha, 23

Three years ago I was scrolling through YouTube and I just saw Jimin dancing and I was like, wait who is this? I started researching more and that’s how I discovered BTS. Zanele, 15

It was during prelims in August last year, I watched South African YouTuber Riley Vahed’s reaction to them and I was like damn, what is this? I need to be involved. So I researched them, got into them and introduced some of my friends as well. Wafiqa, 17

I was watching one of those react videos and the one episode was Teens React to K-Pop and they had BTS in there. It was 2016 and I really liked it. They don’t make the generic pop music. They make upbeat music which I can dance to and relate to. They talk about things that I think are important. Amena, 18

Okay here comes a difficult question. Who is your bias (favourite group member) and why?

V because I find him optimistic and unique. He never conforms, if he wants to do something and it’s going to make him happy he just does it no matter what other people think. It sets an example because I want to live that kind of life where I don’t really care what other people think. Wafiqa, 17

Suga. He has a carefree attitude, he’s been through a helluva lot mentally which I think resonates with me. I like that he’s caring but doesn’t show it. Shabnam, 28

V which is Kim Taehyung. The other members are just as cute and warm-hearted but there’s something about his crazy personality and that he can remain the way he was before he got famous. He hasn’t forgotten the meaning of family and his voice is just amazing. Deerushka, 16

I look at them from a totally different perspective than a lot of ARMYs look at them. I don’t look at them and say, ‘oh he’s cute or look at his abs and stuff’. I like different parts of their different personalities. But obviously the older ones like Jin and RM. Beth, 48

I can’t choose between Yoongi and Taehyung. I really like like Taehyung’s voice and I like Suga’s lyrics. Also just the way they interact with each other and with fans is cute. Ketsia, 22

Tae is my bias because I can relate to a lot of the things he has gone through. I know for the last couple of years he has been dealing with a lot of things emotionally similar to Suga as well. The whole message of BTS is to love myself love yourself. It seems simple but people forget to love themselves. Luke, 20

I love all seven of them equally because the unit will not work without just one but my favourite is Jimin. He seems like a soft, beautiful boy and he exists in the same world as me! His face scrunches up when he smiles, he makes me so happy. He’s determined and a responsible young man, he loves his friends and parents. His voice is so beautiful, he’s a technical master of precision when he dances. He is the most inspirational person of 2016 to me, he got me through some things. I don’t think I could physically love someone more unless I gave birth to them. Ndapwa, 29

I have a holy trinity that’s j-hope, Suga and Jimin. Of the three, Jimin was the first member I was exposed to and because of that I’ll always have a soft spot for him. I love how outspoken Suga is in his recent Billboard interview where he empowered Korean people to unite and stand up for what they believe in and also about gay rights. He’s really quiet and reserved and a little mean but he’s a sweetheart. Out of all of them j-hope is the one I idolise the most and wish to emulate. He is so talented in almost every sphere of the music industry. Tasha, 23

My bias is Jungkook. First of all, he is beautiful. But also he is an amazing singer like seriously good. He is super hard working and he tries really hard to do it to the absolute best of his ability. Amena, 18

Collage of SA ARMY and BTS

What does BTS mean to you?

They’re a bit of escapism. They’re a place when I’m feeling down need a break from life I can listen to their music and I feel at ease. The coolest thing is they’ve exposed me to a whole other culture. It’s made me interested in something other than my little world. Tasha, 23

When I look back I don’t think I’ve ever loved and cared about another artist as I do them. I feel like they care about their fans and they’re constantly putting out content that allows us to connect with them. Them spreading the message of loving yourself has really helped me to become so happy. Lavonne, 19

You can see how the group has grown and become closer friends. They can make anyone feel like they belong. They push their fans to follow their dreams. Monique, 17

If I had to describe them in one word it would have to be family. They give so much to the fans, more than I’ve seen any other group do. I’ve met the most amazing people in my life through them. They speak about things like mental health issues. That really changes the game for K-pop. Mymoena, 19

BTS is a refuge, a sanctuary. They are entertainers but they provide you with relief, that there’s actually people who understand what you’re going through and help you get through your problems, encourage you even though they’re thousands of miles away. Wafiqa, 17

BTS are absolutely kind, mature, fun-loving, and hilarious. They’re talented and the rap and vocal line is amazing. Their songs are relatable, they’re very open and personal, and share lots with us. They’re very close with each other and their brotherly love is everything to them which is amazing to me. Deerushka, 16

BTS is my safe space. As a student I have a lot going on but when I get to listen to BTS and watch their videos I just feel relief in some way. Ketsia, 22

They came into my life at a point where I was at perhaps at my lowest. When I was introduced to them I felt like hope and healing was brought into my life. It’s amazing to see how BTS has united so many people from all different backgrounds. And it is promoting this idea of diversity, unity, and equity. Luke, 20

BTS means love, caring and family – because they’re so close to each other and it feels so genuine. They’re really confident and they’re always trying to spread a message with what they love doing. Zanele, 15

Besides the fun and music, I love that they play a significant role in people’s lives and that they try to change people’s lives. Its different from other K-pop artists. They try to change society, they make you question a lot about yourself. You get a lot of motivation to work harder and question the wrongs of society. Shabnam, 28

I was attracted to Jimin’s visuals. I admired his dedication and hard work. In a lot of videos, they often talk about how hardworking he is and he goes the extra mile. I feel like he is striving for perfection, he wants to make us proud and himself proud. His high notes make me weak. In the videos we watch you can see how caring and genuine and thoughtful he is. Lavonne, 19

The content they produce is such a gift because of the work it must take to present every aspect of yourself to people for their enjoyment – even though I understand K-pop is a machine in a capitalist industry. The relationship between the members also makes me love them so much, it feels so beautiful and genuine. These seven young Asian men relate to me in my context as an almost 30-year-old *gasp* black woman in South Africa and Namibia. The idea of feeling stuck and feeling misunderstood and struggling with mental health and society – and even just having fun and wanting dreams to come true. It’s has opened up so many communities and spaces: online friendships, important conversations on race and gender, and the infantilisation of women. It’s made me a better and happier person and that is just so pure. Ndapwa, 29



Check out this rest of our K-pop coverage here:
Eleven reasons to stan K-pop sensations BTS
Redefining masculinity the BTS way
Hixtape is the lituation we never deserved
6 K-pop groups that are a must listen

Voxes have been edited for clarity and brevity.

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons


  1. I love this article. Thank you so much for talking to our fellow Army. As you can see BTS is very special to all of us!

  2. Your CommentThis was such an amazing read. It’s so heartwarming to see so many Armys in S.A. and as a fellow African, it gives me such a great feeling. And I can totally relate to each an every person you talked to.

  3. When i saw this article, i didn’t think for another second and clicked right away to start reading it. I was just reflecting to myself today, bts should really have a concert in S.A because the fan base surely is huge and after being notified and alerted about this article, i was assured that i was indeed correct. Thanks a quintillion to the writer of this article and spreading the awareness about the great impact of BTS.

  4. The best article to begin my day with! We all must keep supporting the boys no matter what! Thank you for such a wonderful article! Love from India! LOVEYOUBANGTAN! BTS×ARMY

  5. In October 2017 I was on a YouTube channel called Just Sharon. She was reacting to their DNA mv. I got curious, because I loved the colorful video and V caught my eye. Not for his looks, but his voice. That is how I became an ARMY. A couple of months ago I wanted to commit suicide. I got a notification on Twitter that BTS have posted. I was about to overdose on pills. It was Jungkook. He posted a song called Breathe. I thanked him for saving my life. I read the English translation. Every time I’m depressed I listen to BTS and I feel better. Their music have beautiful messages. I wish their cds were available in our country as well as their merchandise.

  6. I love this so much. I relate to BTS because to me they are humans before they are idols. They are not afraid to be real and talk about their struggles. They show human aspects of themselves more, to a point where you forget that they are record-breaking, multi-award winning celebrities. They cry, show compassion, voice their dislikes, express their difficulties and this is why everybody wants to be their friend. Cause despite their achievements, they have remained humble through it all…

  7. Reading all the statement above. Its 100% true. We all have different perspective when in comes to life and music genre,but one good thing abt them is they can really unite people regardless of your nationality and theres no languang barriers. They have soft spot or that thing that really hard to explain. Just like me,I never had a kpop act in my entire body before,but late 2017. Accidentally i got so curious abt them on twitter and thats the beginning of the end. I was hooked totally. Its like watching and listening to them is self reflection to yourself. Its not about fan girling but the advocacies they spread now. And thumps up for that bangtan. This is from PH 28yrs

    • Your CommentIm Not Alone. This made me so happy!!😭😭 . They are so special and I don’t think they even understand what they’re doing and how much it matters. I literally can’t even describe how they make me feel , how they’re music and just them as human beings has impacted me and helped me through so many things. They are gems and I’m just so glad I’m not the only one in this country that knows that. lol. I thought I was alone

  8. My first fav is Jin & Jungkook but after getting more into the group, my ultimate bias is Namjoon. There are so many things about him that I can relate. He is such a remarkable young man that sometime I forgot that he is still very young & in charge of a bunch of unique individuals. And still manage to keep it together. Then he breaks thing, losses things, loses his patient or showed his cute side … and I’m thinking “he’s so young”.

  9. Well can I just say that I’m very proud of SA ARMYs because our numbers are rapidly increasing and I’ve seen an example of this the other day when going to play a hockey match last week Saturday. Two of my ARMY friends and I were walking towards our bus to go home while singing Go Go and there was a group of girls sitting close by and I was like wouldn’t it be cool if one of them starts jamming to Go Go too? Now I was shocked when she actually stood up and started dancing and singing! She told us she was an ARMY too and we shared a special moment. It was truly an experience!

  10. i have no bias from BTS. They are all amazingly gifted and talented people. Their songs have meaning and helped me with depression i was suffering with for years . I hope they know that their music makes a difference in our lives as the ARMY.

    • I agree with you 100% I also have no bias from BTS but I really appreciate their music and enjoy watching their videos. They inspiring and I wish them nothing but the best and hope they plan a SA tour bringing them to Cape Town in the near future!!!!!!!

  11. What I find absolutely AMAZING about BTS and their music is that yes, it’s primarily Korean words, yet it’s a true testament to how music can transcend language, culture, race and borders. I’m new to ARMY but I know that I could never go back. I first came across them after their performance on Jimmy Kimmel where they absolutely slayed Mic Drop and I thought to myself, damn is this what I have been missing out on 🙂 I have followed them ever since! I am so proud of them all for what they have achieved both on and off stage. They have done so much for breaking down barriers with regards to mental health issues in the K-pop industry, but have also challenged western ideals of masculinity, which is frankly a breath of fresh air, epecially for myself as a woman, who has always found the whole extra-macho masculine persona quite tiresome and boring. They inspire me everyday and have shown that through hard work, you can achieve your dream. I honestly do not have a favourite, but I feel that I can relate to Suga the most (Do yourself a favour and listen to Agust D!). Anyways, here’s hoping that BTS make a turn to SA soon! I would love to see them in Cape Town, but will continue to support and show love to those 7 Korean guys who have absolutely opened my eyes to a music genre I didn’t even know I was already in love with. Favourite music video will always be Blood, Sweat and Tears and Fake Love is such a banger xxx

  12. I’m glad to find out about other ARMY in South Africa! It is a bit of a challenge to find friends who also like Kpop and then BTS!

    My bias is Jimin foremost, but V and Jin is close! Always tug of war. But all the members are good and you appreciate every single one of them!

    …and the infamous international fan problems. 😂

  13. My girlfriend loves BTS a lot and she literary can sing nearly all the songs in the albums and I myself I do enjoy it. I want to get her a wall poster for BTS, but I really don’t know where to find any here in South Africa. So please if you are awake if a place I can find one please help me out 👏🏿

  14. I LOVE BTS , Have been an Army since September 2017 and i am totally hooked, i mean yeah i love their meanings of self love and equality but lets admit their visuals kill..

  15. I love BANGTAN BOYS I saw them on TV performing Boy with luv and I instantly got hooked and to my surprise there is a huge army fan base at my school

  16. I started falling in love with BTS when they released the song IDOL. I seriously can’t hear a BTS song and not feel happy or free. The boys are talented and their dancing is way out of this world. Jungkook, Yoongi and Jimin are very handsome. Man crush although I cant really figure out who I love most. I am a proud army

  17. For me I’ve become an army since 2016
    I saw Not Today on YouTube by accident and I just fall in live with them
    They R incredible
    Love them soo much and I will forever
    They deserve this love and this success and everything they achieve cause they R just good people and they deserve everything good from this world

  18. I saw them performing on BILLBOARD MUSIC AWARDS 2017 and I felt in luv with the way they interacted with their Fandom A.R.M.Y and on that day I decided to join their Fandom A.R.M.Y. ??????

    As days went by I did not release that I was obsessed ;no one can stand my obsession only A.R.M.Ys can understand. So Being an A.R.M.Y is one of the best decision that I’ve ever made . I’ll never forget, regret that I became part of this wonderful fandom??.
    Losing a chance ti see BTS is like losing my BIGGEST DREAM????. My Anpanman ?????????????? so Wish BTS can come to SA??

  19. BTS is literally the best thing that could’ve happened to music?.Living proof that music transcends language,nationality and age.I might have only been a listener in 2017 but I got hooked on”boy with luv” in 2019.Now, I’m a proud A.R.M.Y in East Africa.l pray that they visit S.A.Thanks for
    showing us that we have reasons to love ourselves BTS.

  20. i strigeld to make vriends in 2017 wen i moved to my no skool i was gooi trou on n staterdae on my youtube en i sho rm i did not no hou he was bat he got my atensen i stated watsien en geting to no al 7 boy wish i wil meet jou 1 day love vrom????


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