BTS has achieved a lot in 2018. They had an especially successful year letting their name be known internationally. BTS songs climb the music charts and their concerts are packed with fans from all over the world. And while music is often referred to as a universal language, some BTS fans are not quite fluent in the Korean language.
This brought up questions for Professor Noh Byungseong at Hyupseong University. Do these international fans understand the lyrics of the songs that they’re listening to? What does Korean lyrics sound like to them?
To find out, he looked into how BTS’s Korean lyrics influenced international ARMYs.
Professor Noh revealed at the winter seminar of Korean Society of Cultures, Arts and Communication, that according to his investigation, Korean lyrics do not hinder the listening experience of international ARMYs. Instead, BTS’s Korean songs are delivering positive perceptions of Korea to the fans.
When participants were asked how much of a hinderance Korean lyrics were when listening to BTS songs, 84.85% responded that it did not affect them negatively at all.
The majority also knew at least some of the lyrics in BTS’s “Idol”, as only a small percentage of 4.51% said they did not know the meaning of any of the Korean lyrics.
When asked if listening to “Idol” made them want to learn Korean, 68.94% of participants answered “very much”. 15.15% answered “slightly”.
70.68% of participants had studied or currently were learning Korean.
Professor Noh used this data to explain that BTS had a huge influence on the fans’ decisions to travel to Korea and/or learn Korean.
When asked about the influences BTS had on them, 30% answered visiting Korea and 28% answered learning the Korean language.
– Professor Noh Byungseong
Internet, especially YouTube, played a huge part in fans coming in contact with BTS and learning the meaning behind BTS’s Korean songs.
46.94% of participants came to know BTS through the internet, YouTube, and other social media.
40.19% used specifically YouTube to find out what BTS’s Korean lyrics meant; 29.55% used the internet, and 10.61% used other social media. Less than 10% used books, classrooms, or friends.
Professor Noh went on to explain how hyperconnectivity through the use of internet helped build a strong international fanbase for BTS.
This generation solves almost everything online, and the amount they learn through traditional methods such as books, classrooms, and peers is significantly less.
– Professor Noh Byungseong
91.16% of the survey’s participants were female. 36.1% were within the age group of 15 to 19, while 24.5% were within 20 to 24. The oldest ARMY to participate in the survey was recorded to be 66 years old.