It’s 2013, and BTS have just won the ‘Best New Artist’ award at the Melon Music Awards in South Korea—just six months after their debut. Anyone privy to the superstardom of the septet today might imagine this to be the beginning of their big break; the rookies who made it huge right from the get-go. It’s hard to believe after all, that at one point in time, these were the underdogs of K-pop. HYBE, known as Big Hit Entertainment at that time, was simply not as influential as the bigger agencies in the entertainment industry and simply put—life was hardly a bed of roses for the seven.
“I think we also thought our lives were going to change somehow. That’s what we thought, but receiving an award…didn’t really change anything,” recalls oldest member Jin, in the pilot episode of BTS Monuments: Beyond The Star, the documentary that has just been released on Disney+. Jin’s words hold weight in more ways than one, and inexplicably set the tone for the eight-part docuseries, designed to take its audiences on a whirlwind ride through their past. From how HYBE Chairman Bang Si-hyuk decided on the final line-up of members to the septet’s forthright reflections on all the band’s landmark moments over the past decade.
Ask any ARMY that’s loyal to a fault, and they’ll probably have a running list of all the biggest (and lowest) moments that the septet has experienced together. Upon watching the first two episodes of the docuseries, there’s no question that the sentiment goes two ways—as all seven finally decide to weigh in on the various episodes of their extremely public life, delivered with a certain poignancy that only a ten-year band could possibly extoll on. With its rather simple yet confessional format, the documentary showcases the other side of an extremely precarious coin, expounding on a multitude of moments that fans had always been curious about. Case in point? The heartbreaking slump they went through during the Love Yourself: Tear era.
Yet the true tearjerking joy of the docuseries comes in its timeliness. With all seven members officially enlisted into South Korea’s mandatory military service as of last week, the docuseries offers fans the prime opportunity to take a trip down memory lane and remember the band exactly as they wish to be remembered during their short term of absence. Notably, they’ve done it in the same format fans have spent endless hours watching in the past; with never-before-seen shots of the ‘Bangtan Bomb’ short videos that used to be released on YouTube every week, featuring their individual vlogs, behind-the-scenes of award shows and the in-studio hours spent practising new choreographies and songs.
It’s a gratuitous nod to the fan experience, which is something surfaced endlessly throughout. The complexities of ‘2! 3!’, and what the band actually felt writing and performing the very first song officially written for the fans, finally revealed to us all. Aptly, it looks at how the group’s unabashed honesty of their struggles from the very beginning became their dark horse—and created the fandom it wields as its greatest strength today.
We may only be two episodes in, but we’re already on the receiving end of a thoughtfully-curated experience that remembers it all, be it the flashier hours the band lived out under the spotlight or the quieter, bleary-eyed moments they’ve somehow always reserved for the fans. As an ARMY, they’ve always been my youth. To each other, they’ve been family. And BTS Monuments: Beyond The Star couldn’t have expressed that more.
Watch BTS Monuments: Beyond The Star on Disney+ now.