The seven-member Korean boyband BTS made a surprise announcement on Tuesday when they told fans the band would be going on an indefinite “hiatus,” allowing each member to pursue solo projects.
The announcement was made during an hour-long recorded FESTA dinner to celebrate BTS’ nine-year anniversary since their debut.
The members, RM, Jin, SUGA, J-Hope, Jimin, V and Jungkook, were recorded eating and drinking in a casual setting, openly discussing the band’s journey, success and rise to unprecedented international fame.
About 20 minutes into the dinner, Suga, 29, broke the news.
“We’re going on a hiatus now,” he said, as per a translation from Billboard.
The group’s leader, RM, 27, then explained the decision, adding that he was grateful for the formation of BTS.
“It made me think I’m happy just being together,” RM said in Korean. “I started music and became BTS because I had a message for the world.”
After the members revealed the hiatus, a spokesperson later clarified to Billboard that BTS (also called Bangtan Boys) is not on hiatus.
“To be clear, they are not on hiatus, but will take time to explore some solo projects at this time and remain active in various different formats,” the statement to Billboard read.
In the BTS FESTA video, RM discussed how COVID-19 impacted the band, who released several new singles during the pandemic, including Dynamite, Butter, Permission to Dance and Life Goes On, all of which were topped Billboard music charts.
It was during the pandemic that RM said he realized “the group has definitely changed.”
“I didn’t know what kind of group we were anymore,” RM said.
He went on to discuss the K-pop industry as a whole, saying that the industry did not give artists “time to mature.”
“You have to keep producing music and keep doing something,” he explained.
“Somehow, it’s become my job to be a rapping machine and remake music and speak in English for the group,” RM continued. When being interviewed abroad, RM normally functioned as a spokesperson for the group, conversing in English.
He added that though he and the other members still look forward to dancing and rehearsing as a group, they are all “exhausted.”
RM promised the band would reunite, claiming that, “Right now, we’ve lost our direction and I just want to take some time to think.”
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BTS thanked their fans, who are called ARMY, for their support over the years.
“We can’t help but think of our fans no matter what — we want to be the kind of artists that are remembered by our fans,” Jimin, 26, said in Korean.
“I think that’s why we’re going through a rough patch right now. We’re trying to find our identity and that’s an exhausting and long process,” he said. “Our fans know us and we know us.”
“It’s important for BTS to start our second chapter,” added J-Hope, 28.
On social media, ARMY and BTS supporters celebrated and lamented the news.
Further details about future BTS collaborations or the solo projects were not announced Tuesday.
Last week, the band released a three-disc career retrospective compilation called Proof.
On May 31, BTS visited the White House to meet with President Joe Biden to discuss Asian inclusion and representation while addressing anti-Asian hate crimes and disinformation.