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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on Sept. 3)

All News 06:51 September 03, 2020

BTS makes history
K-pop sensation tops Billboard chart

Was it just a matter of time? Yes! The seven members of BTS made history by becoming the first Korean artist, either solo or group, to top Billboard's Hot 100 singles chart with the English language song "Dynamite." The song, recorded to send out a cheerful and hopeful message to people around the globe, found resonance.

The billboard charts are not new territory for the K-pop boy band, which has topped the Billboard 200 albums chart four times. But the benchmark Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, which tallies not only U.S. streaming, sales data but also radio airplay, means more of a wider and general audience are listening to BTS' music. It's a coveted spot for musicians around the world. Their lead track "On," from the album "Map of the Soul:7" released in February, rose to No. 4 on the Hot 100 chart, so their ascent to the top seemed all but inevitable. Before BTS, there was the Korean solo musician Psy, whose "Gangnam Style" spent seven weeks at No. 2 in 2012.

In its unparalleled feat, the boy band said it was a dream come true. For the coronavirus-weary Korea, it's a ray of joy and a shot of confidence showing that people can still dream.

Since its debut in 2013, the band has risen steadily in global popularity, sending songs to charts, building a fandom and sweeping awards at international music events. The group is well-known for its creativity, emotive lyrics and sincere approach to fans. BTS's broad and global fandom known as the ARMY has shown dedication to the seven members quite unlike any other. J-Hope, Jimin, Jin, Jungkook, RM, Suga and V are stellar dancers with distinctive vocal and presentation styles, which are easily seen in "Dynamite."

One of the first K-pop acts to break through on the Billboard charts was the female soloist BoA in 2009, with her release that year ranking 127th on the albums chart. Since then, several Korean acts have made the Billboard albums chart including Big Bang, G-Dragon and EXO. Only a few Koreans have entered the competitive top 100 singles chart including BTS, Psy and recently BLACKPINK.

The popularity of the Korean Wave, or hallyu, from dramas to film, and now to music, demonstrates that Korea's soft power has a competitive edge, with creativity and innovation.

There could not be any better news for Koreans amid the COVID-19 pandemic than what BTS gave us. It is akin to when golfer Pak Se-ri won the U.S. Women's Open in 1998, and when Director Bong Joon-ho's "Parasite" won at the Oscars this year. The band thanked its ARMY fans and said it hopes to perform at next year's Grammy Awards. May fortune shine on their future endeavors.

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