BTS's 'Map of the Soul: 7' breaks records with 4M pre-orders even as ARMY prepare to bid idols temporary adieu
The KPop group is giving its best for the album with date of military enlistment coming close
The upcoming 'Map of the Soul: 7' album from KPop group BTS has already surpassed 4 million pre-orders.
'MOTS: 7' easily surpassed the record set by the group's previous release 'Map of the Soul: Persona' which had hit nearly 3.5 million pre-order in only seven days. And it looks like 'MOTS: 7' is going to continue to break many more records!
The album, which releases February 21 along with the music video for the lead single 'ON' draws heavily from the theories of psychoanalyst Carl Jung. While the previous album worked with Jung's concept of 'personas' and the various masks we wear as we navigate our lives, the new album delves into the internal struggle artists face as they try to balance their passion with their fame.
The promotional run for this release included appearances from BTS at the Grammys, iHeartRadio Live, the 'Late Late Show With James Corden', and the 'Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon'. They also funded a global art project called 'Connect, BTS', launched a new app to help their massive international fanbase learn the Korean language, and have revealed that a new music video for lead single 'ON' will drop along with the album launch on February 21. And that's not even all of it!
BTS are putting their all into creating something that goes far beyond a simple album release and keeping up with all the announcements could give you some serious whiplash. So just why did the band suddenly kick things into overdrive for this comeback?
With oldest member Jin on the cusp of turning 28 and the other members not too far behind, BTS will have to take a step back over the next few years from all the promoting and creating so they can complete their mandatory two-year military service as is required of all able-bodied Korean men aged 28 and under. Not completing one's service is not only a crime but also one of the greatest taboos in the country. All men, including idols, are expected to do their duty to their country - even if it means giving up two years of their career.
Idols who enlist are heavily scrutinized and any error on their part becomes a national issue. KPop superstar Rain came under fire when it was revealed he was given preferential treatment that allowed him special leave to meet his wife (then girlfriend) actress Kim Tae-hee despite civilian contact being prohibited while on duty. Rain was also criticized for drinking with fellow celebrity Seven following a performance, after which Seven and another celebrity Sangchu were seen visiting an illegal massage parlor. Their behaviour made many question the lack of discipline in the military.
The backlash from the incident prompted the Ministry of National Defense to shut down its celebrity soldier unit and send all celebrity soldiers to regular military units. Several of these soldiers also faced punishment for violating the rules.
The BTS fandom made several passionate requests that the group be given special permission that exempts them from enlisting - an exemption that is reserved for people in sports and art who have already served the country through their exceptional contributions - but the request was denied, and instead, the government changed the rules for mandatory enlistment that would make it even harder for entertainers like BTS to receive an exemption.
But why is the country so hard on its soldiers and so strongly against granting exemptions? For that, we need to look back a few decades - to the case of Yoo Seunjun, one of the most prominent KPop idols of the '90s.
During his time as an idol, Seunjun would frequently talk about wanting to serve his country and do his duty. When it was time to enlist, however, he applied to become a U.S. citizen which meant he would no longer need to enlist. The backlash against him was severe. The general public began calling him a traitor and the government deported Seunjun and banned him from returning to South Korea for life. This ban stayed in place despite appeals from the idol until last year when the Supreme Court finally agreed to review his case.
Since Seunjun's 'betrayal', the government and the public have been far more unforgiving of entertainers who enlist and have been unwilling to grant any exemptions except in rare cases.
Put simply, South Korea places great importance and value on the mandatory enlistment and takes immense pride in its military. Men who enlist are greatly celebrated upon their return two years later. And despite the fan requests, BTS must still enlist as is required of all men in the country.
Speaking about their upcoming enlistment, Jin said last year that the group was prepared for when the call comes, adding "As a Korean, it's natural, and someday, when duty calls we'll be ready to respond and do our best".
This, sadly, means that the BTS ARMY will not be seeing all seven members together again for at least two years following the 'MOTS: 7' promotions. And that means the grandeur BTS is bringing to this whole project is not just to make it flashy - it's their way of giving us a proper farewell until we all meet again.