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After remarkable seven years, BTS looks inward on ‘Map of the Soul: 7’

In its seventh year, BTS is focusing on finding purpose than chasing goals

The members of boy band BTS pose for their online press conference, held Monday. (Big Hit Entertainment)
The members of boy band BTS pose for their online press conference, held Monday. (Big Hit Entertainment)
BTS says its new album “Map of the Soul: 7” reflects on the septet’s seven-year journey together.

“‘Map of the Soul 7’ contains our stories -- all the emotions we experienced from the seven years we worked as BTS and our feelings toward fans,” bandmate J-Hope said during the global press conference for the album in Seoul on Monday.

Following Friday’s release of its fourth studio album and a series of promotions in the US, the septet was back in Seoul but the event was livestreamed amid growing concerns over the coronavirus outbreak.

The 20-track album, including five tracks from the group’s previous body of work, is fronted by the lead single “On,” which Suga says encapsulates the bandmates’ powerful energy.

The lyrics go, “Can’t hold me down because you know I’m a fighter,” reflecting the fears and uncertainties in the last seven years since the group’s debut in 2013.

“It’s been seven years, so I think we have grounded ourselves now. And the lyrics show that we’ve learned how and will face the hurt, sadness and pain head-on,” the rapper said.

The group has broken multiple records including having three US No. 1 albums within a year, but now it is focusing on finding purpose.

“Records are important, but if people draw happiness from our music that’d be the greatest result we can achieve,” said Jin.

Suga also said the group was at a point where its “purpose is more important than goals.”

The event took an emotional turn as one of the younger members, Jimin, talked about another seven years together.

“I’m still very young; we are still all very young but even moving forward, it would be impossible to talk about our lives without these seven guys,” he said.

Jungkook quipped that he has always been a fan of the group’s name in Korean -- the Bangtan boys -- while some members were not entirely convinced.

Some members brought up more serious issues.

Jin addressed the issue of enlistment during the event, as the oldest member can no longer postpone his mandatory military service when he turns 28.

“I believe military duty is a duty. Until I am called, I’ll try to do the best I can, and when I’m called, I’ll answer, of course,” Jin said.

V shared a difficulty he has overcome while touring around the world, moving from a concert venue to an airplane and a hotel room.

“We are at the concert -- it feels like a festival. I feel like I’m in the limelight. And then as soon as I get in the car to go back, I used to feel this void but not anymore. I’ve overcome it and it’s not that difficult anymore.”

Asked about the group’s global appeal, RM said there might be multiple reasons including the universal nature of the feelings the group taps into through its music.

“These are not just concerns or feelings that we have ourselves and just in Korea. ... We try to express this through our music and through our dance. I think this is what people find to be refreshing and charming.”

From racking up over 4.02 million presale copies worldwide, garnering millions of views on TikTok with the new single-inspired “ON Challenge” clips, to working with Sia and Troye Sivan, the album is on course to become the group‘s commercially biggest one yet.

“Map of the Soul: 7” is out now.

By Yim Hyun-su (hyunsu@heraldcorp.com)
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