On Thursday, Billboard revealed its latest cover stars—BTS, the inescapable K-Pop boy band who’ve stolen our hearts and yours by now, too...probably. What I assumed would be an elongated example of the same sort of banal conversations English-language publications typically have with Korean pop artists, this proved to be actually, kinda, a little bit insightful—due in large to the band’s leader, RM (formerly known as Rap Monster), and its rapper, Suga, and their comments on economic inequality, the millennial generation’s inherited shit-end of the financial stick (blame your parents for this one).
RM and Suga’s quotes, when asked why their boy band resonates so well worldwide, were super-delightfully woke? Like, accidentally, socioeconomically progressive? I know!
RM told the publication:
“Honestly, from our standpoint, every day is stressful for our generation. It’s hard to get a job, it’s harder to attend college now more than ever. Adults need to create policies that can facilitate that overall social change. Right now, the privileged class, the upper class needs to change the way they think.”
Suga, BTS’ rapper, jumped in:
“And this isn’t just Korea, but the rest of the world. The reason why our music resonates with people around the world who are in their teens, 20s and 30s is because of these issues.”
Later, RM puts those economic concerns back on himself, discussing a lack of drive as a young person, one who grew up operating under the antiquated understanding that college can solve everything. “There was nothing I wanted to do; just that I wanted to make a lot of money,” RM started, Suga adding “College is presented like some sort of cure-all. They say that if you go, your life will be set. They even say you’ll lose weight, get taller...”
RM jumps back in, “That you’ll get a girlfriend...” Suga concludes, “But this isn’t the reality, and they realize that was all a lie. No one else can take responsibility for you at that point. If we don’t talk about these issues, who will? Our parents? Adults? So isn’t it up to us? That’s the kind of conversations we have [in the band]: Who knows best and can talk about the difficulty our generation faces? It’s us.”
And there you have it. Next time BTS conduct an interview, let’s hope the interviewer gets to the hard stuff, just like they would with any other artist. In the meantime, fuck college.