BTS‘s story has been told often, recalling how the group grew from debuting under a small company to being one of the most popular in the world.
Fans have often found pride in their humble beginnings, but a recent interview with Bang Si Hyuk might have just revealed the truth behind part of their history.
On November 1, Bang Si Hyuk and JYP Entertainment‘s founder Park Jin Young (also known as JYP or J.Y. Park) appeared on tvN‘s popular talk show, You Quiz on the Block, hosted by comedians Yoo Jae Suk and Jo Se Ho.
While talking about the group, Bang Si Hyuk spoke about the group’s earlier years, saying that while many believed BTS was not successful in their debut year, they were.
People think BTS didn’t do well initially, bu they were actually successful from the beginning. I know it sounds like a good story to say that they weren’t successful in the beginning but that they returned from the U.S. having succeeded. But that’s not it at all. They received all the rookie awards in the first year and were very successful.
— Bang Si Hyuk
It is easy to see why this misconception would have come about, however!
Fans and media have talked about the group being unpopular during their debut era, naming true statements like the group handing out flyers for a free performance as proof.
I love BTS but their debut wasn’t iconic…they got so much hate and almost disbanded bc of how unpopular they were until the I Need U era. Newjeans ACTUALLY has the iconic debut because everyone immediately loved their music/vibe and their debut songs won awards. Facts are facts. https://t.co/ypXogI3fYP
— Livi ❀˚̣̣̣͙ (@theycallhimjk) November 1, 2022
their first concert was attended by about 300 fans. it was free and to prove what they are good with pic.twitter.com/H9rt36iAmj
— ً atia⁷🍷CLOSED (@hobiatia) July 15, 2021
Despite selling out big stadiums today, BTS didn’t always have an easy time getting people to watch them perform. In an appearance on Korean reality show American Hustle Life, the members said they once had to hand out fliers along LA’s Hollywood Boulevard and invite passers-by to come to a free concert.
— Korea Times in 2021
However, as many fans know, BTS won many rookie awards, including the 2013 Melon Music Awards, the 2023 MAMA Awards, and the 2014 Golden Disc Awards.
The flyers BTS handed out were part of a mission during their show, American Hustle Life, which took place during a time K-Pop was not as popular in the United States. The group’s Show And Prove concert associated with this had a limited capacity, leading fans to line up overnight to see the group perform.
This misconception likely was a result of the financial difficulties the company had. For smaller companies, the costs of debuting a group and maintaining them rack up debts in the millions.
Success, unfortunately, does not always equate to significant profits.
Luckily, BTS’s success and popularity only grew throughout the years, turning them into the powerhouse they are today!