Considering K-pop group BTS’s sheer number of firsts in just the last week, it was no surprise that more than 150 journalists from all around the world showed up to for the band’s press conference in the halls of Dongdaemun Design Plaza in Seoul, where the band discussed their latest album, Map of the Soul: Persona.
In recent days, BTS first broke a new record on YouTube with their title track “Boy With Luv.” It drew 74.6 million views in the first 24 hours, making it the fastest start for a music video in YouTube history — destroying the 56.7 million record achieved barely one day before by K-pop girl band BLACKPINK for their song “Kill This Love.” Later that day, BTS performed on Saturday Night Live, becoming the first-ever Asian group to do so on the iconic show.
To the seven members — V, Jin, Jimin, Suga, Jungkook, RM and J-Hope — the press conference was a homecoming after their big weekend in the U.S. It gave the group a chance to look back on their journey with a collection of past clips from interviews and music videos that were the milestones of their rise to global fame.
“For the past two years and a half, we’ve been talking about loving yourself and we never thought we would receive so much love ourselves,” RM said. “Map of the Soul is a journey of discovery, so we wanted to talk about the strength of this love and how it brought us where we are. Persona is about that strength, about power.”
Below, Billboard recaps some of the biggest highlights of the press conference.
Halsey makes an appearance
“I’ve seen those guys work so hard for so long,” Halsey, who features on “Boys With Luv,” said in a surprise pre-recorded video shown at the conference. “When they asked me to work with them, I was so glad.” It’s safe to say that BTS is up there with the best, as superstar Ed Sheeran also reached out to the group to write a song for them; that sprouted the track “Make It Right,” a catchy mix of American and Korean pop with RM’s lyrics.
The BTS ARMY marches on
More than their work with famous entertainment figures, BTS draws its strength from its devoted fans, the ARMY. And they know it. The group, originally barely famous in Korea, grew their overwhelming fandom around the world. A few dozen fans were waiting at the entrance of the press conference venue – which was supposed to be kept secret – in hopes of catching a glimpse of their idols. “They put us where we are standing today,” said Jungkook. (Several other fans lined up for free seats in front of the nearby Music Bank studio, where BTS was scheduled to record later in the day.)
BTS addresses the sex scandal that has been raging in the Korean entertainment industry
In the past month, BIGBANG’s member Seungri was accused of sexual harassment, bribing the police and using and selling drugs, among other crimes. One of his alleged accomplices, TV host Jung Joon Hyung, was arrested on similar charges.
One journalist asked the band whether BTS members had made any promises to their agency to be on their “best behavior.”
“We promised to stay away from trouble when we debuted,” Suga said. “We began from a very pure and innocent place. We got here through hardships and it was really difficult at the beginning. I think when people see us, they get courage from it.”
Added Jimin: “This is thanks to you if we got here. You make us happy, so we want to make you happy. So now it’s about giving back.”
To give back, BTS has been looking at the past to better understand how to grow. “I had my heroes when I first started music,” Suga said. “I didn’t become them, though. I became part of BTS instead.”
What’s next for the band
“Everyone is working on their own music,” RM said. “We don’t know if it’s going to be part of an album or a solo mixtape — but it doesn’t matter. You need to work on it, perfect it. If the quality isn’t there, the song just isn’t released.”
“I would like to do a mixtape,” Jungkook also said. “But for now, I have been unable to — nothing I did was good enough!”
BTS will stay true to their roots
The K-pop sensation will continue to sing in Korean, as no English album is in the works. “Even if the [Korean] language is difficult, we hope people understand the passion in our songs,” Jimin said.
*Correction: The original version of this story mischaracterized a quotation. It has been updated with the correct text.