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Behind the Scenes with BTS

A Korean pop sensation is launching its newest album for the first time in New York City and fans can barely contain their excitement. K-Pop has become an international phenomenon, and a seven member South Korean boy band called BTS is one of the most popular. With dance beats, colorful looks, and choreographed dance moves, BTS is on par with the biggest boy bands of all time. Still, many fans here in the states can’t speak the language. Anya Schultz went to Midtown Manhattan to find out what draws millions of Americans to BTS.

ANYA SCHULTZ, BYLINE: It’s 9 o’clock on Thursday night and it’s freezing cold. But several hundred teenagers and twenty somethings are bundled up in blankets and sitting on the sidewalk for one reason: BTS.

BTS super fans call themselves ARMY, and tonight they’re sleeping outside in the cold because their favorite band in the world will be appearing on The Today Show in the morning, and they want to be first in line.

EMILY MARTINEZ: I have like three layers of pants, two shirts, two hoodies, and two sweaters and a jacket.

SCHULTZ: That’s 20-year-old Emily Martinez from Yonkers. She brought a camping chair to sleep in. 19-year-old Phoebe Lin, a student at NYU, gets emotional talking about the band.

PHOEBE LIN: I feel like they create another whole world for me. So, when I’m very tired or stressed that’s the place for me to hide.

SCHULTZ: The seven-member boy band rose to fame over the past several years with its bright, energetic dance hits and dreamy looks. The fans waiting here tonight say they are inspired by the BTS success story. Dozens of fans all said the same thing. They like the idea that they can make it big by being themselves. BTS is about learning to love yourself and not caring what anyone else thinks.

Fans pass out hand warmers and sing along to their favorite songs in Korean. They don’t understand the language but still they know every word of the lyrics. 21-year-old Noa Castro is singing BTS karaoke to pass the time. She helped to design a cardboard poster with a collage of the band members faces. She hopes to give it to the band.

NOA CASTRO: They inspire me to truly be myself wherever I go. To be more confident in myself and to love myself.

SCHULTZ: At 4 a.m. BTS officially released its new album. It’s called Map of the Soul:7 and it’s what fans have been waiting for. The album broke four million dollars in pre-sales and it’s already number one on iTunes. In their new music video, the band members wear black leather jackets, white t-shirts, and dance in a hip hop inspired style. The video already has 24 million views on YouTube.

A few hours later, the sun is up but it’s still cold and most fans haven’t slept. They’re tired, but they’re also excited and they can’t stop screaming. Fans have frozen toes, but they’re up on their feet waiting to get inside the plaza. But there’s one more barrier: Security. The exhausted fans slowly make their way through metal detectors and open their bags to have them searched. Finally, they’ve reached the outdoor stage area. Soon the band appears and they have a message for their fans.

They say the fans inspire them. For the young fans here who are working on confidence, that’s all they are waiting to hear. BTS will continue its New York press tour, performing on Jimmy Fallon tonight.

Anya Schultz, Columbia Radio News.


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