Owner Of BTS’s Trainee Days Restaurant Shares Her BTS Memories

“When the shop is quiet, I feel like they could just open the door, barge in any minute shouting “Aunt, we are hungry’.”

When BTS were trainees, they visited Yoojung Sikdang so often that it has become the “BTS restaurant”. In a recent interview, the owner shared her fondest and most touching memories from that time.


Kang Sun Ja knew BTS long before they became famous. The members used to eat at her restaurant nearly every day for two years, back when they were trainees.


Kang Sun Ja remembers the members as “bright, respectful, friendly and well-mannered” boys.

“They are just well-rounded. Not many people their age are like that. Every time we met they greeted and I thought there is something different about them.”

— Kang Sun Ja


Although all the members had their own charm, Jimin’s stood out to her the most.

“Though everyone had their own charm, I’d say Jimin.”

— Kang Sun Ja


She saw RM‘s leadership qualities long before he debuted at BTS’s leader.

“[RM] would never put his phone down when eating to get better — studying other performers — and I thought to myself that he had the potential to be a leader, which became true.”

— Kang Sun Ja


She recalled Suga‘s kindness, as well as the strong bond between all the members.

“[Suga] was very kind. They all fulfilled their own roles. When I see them hug each other and get all teary-eyed on stage after a concert, I’m reminded of when they did the same as trainees, hugging and taking care of each other. It’s very touching.”

— Kang Sun Ja


When asked about BTS’s menu, Kang Sun Ja talked about their favorite meal, that is now popularly known as “Bangtan Bibimbap”. She used to secretly feed them their favorite foods after their agency put the members on diets.

“They liked the bibimbap best, which comes with rice mixed with pork. That became the “Bangtan Bibimbap” later. For about 2 1/2 years, they came to eat here. At first, they ate two to three bowls of rice before their company put them on a diet. [Suga] used to eat chicken breast, milk and banana all blended (into a shake). Sometimes I would feed them their favorite food secretly, and I remember telling them that they have to eat well to work. And that they won’t gain weight because they move about a lot.

— Kang Sun Ja


Kang Sun Ja expressed how hard they worked, and how she felt a parental affection for them when they showed up at her restaurant after practicing for hours on end.

“Their success is not just pure luck but thanks to their effort. They really put their blood and sweat into their work. At times I felt like their parents would feel for their children if they saw them. When they practiced so hard, they would come upstairs from the studio in the basement with their T-shirts and hair all covered in sweat. They would practice every day from the morning to 10 p.m., sometimes they would just practice the night away. They worked that hard.”

— Kang Sun Ja


She wonders now if BTS look back on those long days of practices and think of everything they sacrificed to get to where they are today.

“Now that they have reached the top, BTS members probably look back on the past I think. It’s rare for people their age to work that hard. Most people want to play, hang out with friends. It’s not easy to give everything up and focus on one thing, you know. And what their sacrifice has brought to them is 100 times better.”

— Kang Sun Ja


Kang Sun Ja is one of the earliest ARMYs out there, and she has received many gifts from BTS’s fans, who have shown her the same kindness BTS have. She has witnessed many of these fans’ hardships, and learned about the impact BTS’s music has had on their lives.

“Some fans were having a hard time with their marriage. They said that each lyric of BTS’ songs touched their heart through and through, which made them realize that something was wrong (in their life). And from there quite a few told me they were able to start afresh and begin a new life.

When you leave your job, you could feel depressed. And some people lived a new life thanks to BTS. I find it very interesting that’s how many fans, with their own stories, manage to get motivation from BTS’ music and start again.”

— Kang Sun Ja


Personally, Kang Sun Ja loves  “Blood Sweat & Tears” the most, for a touching reason.

“The lyrics touch my heart and I’m sure it does theirs as well. When the shop is quiet, I feel like they could just open the door, barge in any minute shouting ‘Imo (aunt), we are hungry’.”

— Kang Sun Ja


Kang Sun Ja hasn’t seen BTS since 2017, but she still thinks of them.

“I haven’t seen them since sometime around July two years ago, when [Jin] came alone. I miss them. They will always have a place in my heart. I wonder if they are doing okay, eating well while abroad. I want them to visit again. Really, I do. Any time. I really miss them and want to do something for them.”

— Kang Sun Ja


“You know, I didn’t really do much,” she said, in the end. “I’m just a dinner lady who just did my best cooking for them who were living far away from their parents. I did my job almost as a parent since I have my own children. I’m just happy that they haven’t forgotten about me.”


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