Beyond the Story: 10-Year Record of BTS is written by journalist Myeongseok Kang with the seven members of the group – RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V and Jungkook – and will be structured as an oral history of their story. It has been translated into English by Anton Hur, in collaboration with Clare Richards and Slin Jung.
Rumours about the book began to spread when US booksellers shared news that an untitled book with a huge initial print run of 1m copies was coming on 9 July, and that they had been required to sign an affidavit to stock copies on publication day. The book, a Flatiron sales official emailed sellers, would have “global appeal” and “massive publicity”.
The scant available details about the book were read as clues by both fans of Swift and BTS. The author and subject were initially set to be revealed on 13 June: 13 is Swift’s favourite number, but the date is also the 10th anniversary of BTS’ first single, No More Dream.
The numbers in the 544-page count – 5-4-4 – also add up to 13. The 9 July publication date also falls two days after the release of Swift’s upcoming album Speak Now (Taylor’s Version). But it is also the 10-year anniversary of Army day, marking the founding of BTS’s fanbase, Army, whose name stands for “Adorable Representative M.C. for Youth”.
Speculation about the book made it a bestseller on the Amazon and Barnes & Noble websites earlier this week, as fans of both Swift and BTS placed pre-orders.
The Army is an extremely online fandom that has become famous for its devotion to the band, with many learning Korean to help translate BTS content into English and other languages for fellow fans, as well as harnessing their collective voice for political activism.
When the #WhiteLivesMatter hashtag began to take off on Twitter in 2020 after the murder of George Floyd, K-pop fans hijacked the hashtag and drowned it out by flooding Twitter with video clips and memes of their favorite artists, many accompanied by anti-racist messages.
Soon after, K-pop fans humiliated the then US President Donald Trump by registering for tickets at one of his rallies with no intention of attending, meaning Trump showed up to a very empty 19,000-seat arena in Tulsa.
Since 2013, BTS has released nine albums and six EPs. In 2018, the group became the first K-pop act to hit No 1 on the US Billboard album chart with Love Yourself: Tear, an achievement it repeated twice more in less than a year, matching a record set by the Beatles.
Last June, BTS announced they were going on hiatus, citing exhaustion and pressure as well as a desire to focus on solo creative projects. “It’s not that we’re disbanding,” member Suga said at the time. “We’re just living apart for a while.”