Get you a fandom that supports you to global domination, and donates to organizations in your name. I'm talking about the BTS ARMY, probably one of the most passionate and organized fandoms right now who has made it their mission to break every record imaginable for all of BTS' major releases, and then some.

/ 24 August 2020

Behind every successful artist is a passionate and army-like force of devoted fans who are ready to back up their favorites with unparalleled support. This is true for all major artists around the world, but it’s even more apparent in the world of K-Pop, where stan groups are 10 times more competitive and driven, and every comeback is a race against time to honor groups with the highest charting blank, or next big measurement of triumph.

Amidst all this, however, there seems to be one fandom that takes “stanning” to a whole new level, leaving generous donations, broken world records and countless history markers in its stead towards global domination. I’m talking about the BTS ARMY, probably one of the most passionate and organized fandoms right now who has made it their mission to break every record imaginable for all of BTS’ major releases, and then some.

Just over the weekend, after BTS released the fun and pastel-themed music video for their first-ever all-English song, “Dynamite,” the group broke a major YouTube record for most number of views within the first 24 hours with 101 Million views. The record was previously held by Blackpink’s “How You Like That” music video with 86.3 Million views in the first day.

BTS and ARMY have broken various world records throughout the years, with digital numbers reigning as the pairs’ strongest expertise. Just in June, the group snagged the Guinness World Record for Most-Viewed Concert Livestream for “Bang-Bang Con: The Live”; in 2017, the group’s single “Blood, Sweat, and Tears” became the first K-Pop song to hit 50 Million streams on Spotify; and the music video for “DNA” was also the fastest video to hit 300 Million views on YouTube. These are just small numbers compared to the full list of records broken by the group and their fandom.

Yet, the ARMY does not show its support for BTS with digital numbers alone and call it a day. As it is an integral part of BTS’ overall message to advocate for self-love, anti-violence, and more, and the members themselves are very active in donating for causes they believe in, their fandom also reflects this same energy with their own self-initiated campaigns to promote these themes. All over the world, ARMYs launch independent charity drives in the name of the band, donating their own money to the Turtle Conservation Society of Malaysia, an orphanage in Indonesia, the WWF, LBTQ+ Youth Centers in Seoul, Save the Children Spain, and impoverished children in the Philippines, to name a few.

The most recent initiative by the ARMY that caught the world’s attention was when it matched BTS’ own donation of $1 Million to the Black Lives Matter movement. The #MatchAMillion campaign by the fandom eventually surpassed the 1M mark as more and more fans donated what they can from their own pockets of savings.

The world has definitely taken notice of the power and influence of ARMY and the rest of the K-Pop world, especially in these turbulent times in terms of politics, and the COVID-19 pandemic. At the height of the BLM movement in America when numerous rallies were held in protest against years of racial injustice, K-Pop fans would bombard tweets against the rally with videos of their favorite fancams, or performances. This was also the case when fans flooded police apps asking for videos of “illegal behavior” at the rallies, temporarily shutting down the app due to “technical difficulties.”

When US President Donald Trump organized a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, stans also stepped in to mass purchase tickets, and not show up. It is believed that this played a huge part on why only 6,200 participants arrived at the venue to support President Trump’s campaign. Several fandoms and TikTokers took part in this movement as a blatant opposition to the administration’s racist and derogatory statements, with the ARMY’s millions of members doing their part to spread and contribute to the cause.

These days, the perception people have towards “stans” has totally transformed to mean something beyond “obsessive fan.” The slang word, which is a nod to the character in Eminem’s song “Stan,” has now taken new form as someone who is not only very enthusiastic about a certain musician or group, but someone who is also deeply passionate about important issues in society.

The ARMY is a prime example of this new stan culture which embodies the community of BTS fans that actively puts the group’s principles to action. As much as this is a testament to the group’s influence in music and culture, it is also an incredible display of basic human empathy, and the positive impact of people coming together to make a change in the world.