Books

K-Pop Stars BTS Will Release a Book Telling Their Own Story in July

The K-pop juggernaut BTS will release an oral history of the group in South Korea and the United States on July 9, its U.S. publisher, Flatiron Books, said on Thursday.

The book, “Beyond The Story: 10-Year Record of BTS,” was written by the journalist Myeongseok Kang and members of the group, and it will be published in South Korea by Big Hit Music.

The news confirms intense fan speculation over several days that Flatiron would publish a nonfiction title about a pop culture phenomenon this summer. The rumor spread once booksellers in the United States noticed last weekend that a mystery title with a July 9 release date was coming. It had an initial print run of one million copies and required booksellers to sign an affidavit to stock copies on publication day.

Fans searched for clues of who the mystery author might be, zeroing in at first on Taylor Swift and citing her frequent use of the number 13 as evidence. (The book’s original announcement was slated for June 13.) Swift had also highlighted the date July 9 in her most recent album announcement.

But June 13 and July 9 are also significant dates in the BTS community. The group debuted on the first date, and BTS’s passionate fan base, Army — which stands for Adorable Representative M.C. for Youth — was founded on the second. The book’s release will coincide with the fan group’s 10th anniversary.

As speculations mounted, preorders drove the still-untitled book up best-seller lists at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

The English translation of the book was led by Anton Hur, in collaboration with Clare Richards and Slin Jung. The U.S. edition will be 544 pages and contain exclusive photographs, according to Flatiron, and will have a first printing of one million copies.

The group’s powerful, very online fandom has become famous worldwide, known for supporting the group by buying multiple versions of each physical release and running intricately coordinated social media campaigns. Devotees also assist each other by translating BTS content into English and other languages and providing robust fan communities.

It is difficult to overstate BTS’s influence, in music and beyond. Last year, the seven members of the group — RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V and Jungkook — visited the White House to speak against anti-Asian American hate crimes.

Since 2013, BTS has released nine albums and six EPs and helped K-pop become a dominant global force. In 2018, the group became the first K-pop act to hit No. 1 on Billboard’s album chart with “Love Yourself: Tear,” a feat it repeated twice in 2019 with “Love Yourself: Answer” and “Map of the Soul: Persona” — matching a record set by the Beatles.

In June 2022, after yet another No. 1 album — the three-disc compilation “Proof” — BTS released a video on social media announcing it was going on hiatus so its members could focus on solo creative projects. “I should be writing about what I’m feeling and the stories I want to tell,” Suga said, “but I’m just forcefully squeezing out words because I need to satisfy someone.” The clip drew more than 16 million views in two days. In October of last year, the group’s label confirmed that its members would enlist in South Korea’s military as required by law. Some of them already have.

The hiatus was devastating news not only for BTS’s fervent fan base, but also for the entertainment business. The day after the news broke, the stock price for Hybe, the South Korean entertainment company behind the group, dropped 28 percent, which shaved $1.7 billion off its market value. As the group’s popularity has grown, it has become a pillar of South Korea’s economy, contributing $3.5 billion annually by 2020, according to the Hyundai Research Institute.

Many fans say that while they are drawn to BTS’s music and performances, they are also inspired by its messages of love and acceptance, which have led some to become more politically active. “They’re really, really passionate people who just fight for what they love,” Nicole Santero, a fan who ran a data-focused BTS Twitter account, told The Times in 2020. “Those characteristics translate well when you look at social issues.”

Caryn Ganz contributed reporting from New York.

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