In 2021, BTS is dominating the music world, but these underdogs-turned-superstars had to overcome the odds to get where they are today. BTS’s fandom, ARMY, is the driving force behind their massive popularity and, over the years, fans have become very protective of the group. Here are 5 reasons why.

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1. Busan One Asia Festival

In 2016, BTS released WINGS, one of their most beloved albums, but they also experienced mistreatment at music shows. At 2016 Busan One Asia Festival, BTS performed at the end of the show, but the livestream of the performance was cut off.

During the fans were notified that that BTS would no longer be appearing in the broadcast due to “circumstances of the artist”.

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Even so, BTS sang and danced their hearts out for fans who were there in person. At the time, ARMYs at the show did not know ARMYs at home could not see the performance.

2. The infamous black ocean

In “We Are Bulletproof: The Eternal” MV, Jungkook is swallowed up by a wave of black water. Many fans believe this moment references the “black ocean” incident from 2016.

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A black ocean is what happens when a large number of concertgoers turn off their lightsticks to boycott a group or show their disapproval. Fans claim that at the 2016 Melon Music Awards, spectators purposely switched off their lightsticks during BTS’s performance. At the time, the incident created a rift between some ARMYs and EXO-Ls; fans from both fandoms pointed fingers at each other.

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| Channel-Korea/channel-korea.com

Fans claimed that a similar incident happened at the Golden Disc Awards. This is a photo from BTS’s GDA performance.

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| Channel-Korea/channel-korea.com

This one was taken during EXO‘s. Since then, many EXO-Ls and ARMYs have striven to end fan wars, support each other, and celebrate what they all love: K-Pop.

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| Channel-Korea/channel-korea.com

3. US interviews

When BTS began breaking into the US music mainstream, they were often treated as gimmicks or one-hit wonders by the western media. Instead of asking BTS about their music, journalists frequently asked BTS about their “crazy” fans and social media presence.

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BTS at the 2017 American Music Awards | Billboard/billboard.com

This is one of the major reasons why BTS’s GRAMMY nomination for “Dynamite” means so much to their fans. After years of enduring disbelieving critics (at home and abroad) their music is now being recognized by the most prestigious music award show in the US.

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| @bts_bighit/Twitter

4. “Plagiarism Boys”

2015 and 2016 were “make it or break it years” for BTS. They faced prejudice, discrimination, and also plagiarism accusations. During their WINGS tour, BTS responded to anti-fans’ attempts to defame them with hashtags like “plagiarism boys” by mentioning it in a VCR.

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5. Chart manipulation accusations

When BTS beat BIGBANG in album sales in 2015, netizens claimed it was because BTS engaged in sajaegi (buying large quantities of albums to inflate sales numbers). These rumors were proven false, and BTS continued to rule the charts. 

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