In Depth

Why K-pop sensation BTS are going on hiatus

Band wants to ‘recharge and refresh’ after six years in the public eye

K-pop chart-toppers BTS have announced they are to take an “extended break” from the music industry.

Following a sold-out concert in Seoul on Sunday night, the South Korean boy band’s management agency, Big Hit Entertainment, said on Twitter that the seven band members would be undergoing a “period of rest and relaxation” in order to “enjoy the ordinary lives of young people in their 20s, albeit briefly”.

The BBC reports that this is the first time BTS - whose full Korean name is Bangtan Sonyeondan, which translates as Bulletproof Boy Scouts - will have taken time off since their 2013 debut. It is not clear how long the break will last, but the band is scheduled to perform in Saudi Arabia in October as part of their Love Yourself: Speak Yourself world tour.

The stars - who go by their nicknames Jung Kook, Jin, Jimin, Suga, V, J-Hope and RM - have asked fans to respect their privacy during the hiatus. “Should you have a chance encounter with a member of BTS while they are on vacation, we ask that you show consideration for their need to rest and enjoy their time off,” said the Twitter statement.

Their legion of followers seem to have taken the decision on the chin, “crafting supportive messages on Twitter with hashtags such as #BTSRestParty and #RestWellBTS”, says Refinery29.

“Fans encouraged the guys to rest up, treat themselves, and assured them that they will be there when BTS is ready to return,” the entertainment news site adds.

As The Guardian notes, the band has “gained a huge following in recent years, becoming the first K-pop group to top charts in the US and Britain and playing a string of sold-out shows in Los Angeles, Paris and London”. They are reportedly worth more than $3.5bn (£2.9bn) annually to South Korea’s economy.

All the same, a hiatus appears to have been on the cards for a while. In an interview earlier this year, the band talked about the possibility of taking a break in order to complete South Korea’s mandatory military service.

The East Asian nation requires all “able-bodied men” from age 18 to 28 to serve a minimum of 21 months in the military. And with the oldest members of the group nearing 28, at least some of them are likely to be called up imminently.

When asked how the possibility of serving in the military would affect the group, the septet appeared to be on the same page. “As a Korean, it’s natural and someday, when duty calls, we’ll be ready to respond and do our best,” Jin told the interviewer.

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