It all happened so fast. Off the back of their anthology album’s release, BTS shared a prerecorded dinner with the fans. Amidst a delicious-looking display of shrimp and meat and side dishes, the boys announced that they were taking a break from making music as a group to pursue solo projects. Looking back, the announcement wasn’t surprising — BTS spent the last decade living and making music together, so a break to find their own personal sounds and stories was perhaps overdue. Not to mention the fact that BTS may still have to participate in South Korea’s mandatory military service by the time they turn 30, which would keep the band apart for the foreseeable future (Jin, who turns the big 3-0 in December, would be the first member to enlist). But in the immediate aftermath of the announcement, the news of BTS’s break elicited a kind of hysteria: Hybe’s stocks tanked (this would be BTS’s management company), many observers speculated that the “hiatus” would look like One Direction’s (namely, BTS would never return as a group), and fans began to plan for their lives without constant updates from the Tannies (some resolved to work on themselves).
That being said, no one could have anticipated that BTS would start their solo careers immediately. Straight out the gate from their emotional dinner that teased a plethora of individual projects, Jungkook released a collaboration with Charlie Puth, while J-Hope announced a full studio album. V, ever the tastemaker, set off to Paris to attend Celine’s summer 2023 menswear show. Art connoisseur RM did a little backpacking trip to Europe for Art Basel as the rest of the members stayed in Korea. Mind you, I’m writing this just three weeks into their so-called break, announced June 14, the same week that they announced an October reunion concert to support Busan’s bid for the 2030 World Expo (they’re also vlogging, apparently). So far, a BTS break to pursue solo projects hasn’t meant a curtailing of activities. Instead, it’s multiplied all of their activities by seven, making it nearly impossible to keep track of it all. But let’s try to anyway — here’s a handy little list of their group and solo activities, which I’ll be updating often:
BTS is back! Through archival footage and interviews, anyway. As part of a deal between Hybe and Disney, BTS will release a 4K concert film, BTS: Permission to Dance on Stage — LA, tied to their November 2021 show in Los Angeles. There’s no release date set, but Suga says in a July 11 announcement video that the project “will be available soon.” Meanwhile, the group is also getting an original docuseries. According to Disney, BTS Monument: Beyond the Star will include “a vast library of music and footage over the past nine years,” as well as “the daily lives, thoughts, and plans of BTS members, as they prepare for their second chapter.” The docuseries is scheduled to start streaming sometime in 2023.
J-Hope is the first member to release a studio album. Titled Jack in the Box, the album appears to play with the myth of Pandora’s box, where the only thing left was the greatest evil of all — hope. The visual teasers suggest that Hobi is leaning into the dark with this new record, playing around with new sounds and raw themes. Prerelease single “More” rattles with ideas about his occupation consuming him. His job is both a salve and an addiction, where nothing but music (and mastering the craft) can sate his thirst. He slides over a hip-hop rock-inflected hook that’s just so cool. And hot of him … Anyway, he’ll be headlining Lollapalooza — heretofore known as Hobipalooza — on July 31 after the album’s July 15 release.
The youngest was the first to release a track in the post-BTS-break world. Featuring on Charlie Puth’s summer earworm “Left and Right,” Jungkook sings about how he can’t get a vague lover out of his head because they “did things to me that I just can’t forget.” The song is cute and very fun to drive to. The music video is the second one to depict Jungkook both getting hit by a car and perhaps having a gay lover. He is currently working on his debut album.
In June, Kim Tae-hyung set off to Paris to sit front row at Celine’s summer 2023 menswear show. He attended the show with his actor friend Park Bo-gum and Blackpink’s Lisa. He looked very good in his double leather-and-sequined look (I have many words, but they are too shameful to print). In other news, he will be on a Disney+ screen near you with his reality show In the Soop: Friendcation. Starring Tae-hyung, Choi Woo-shik (Parasite), Park Seo-joon (Itaewon Class), Park Hyung-sik (Strong Woman Do Bong Soon), and musician Peakboy, the series will follow their four-day vacation to a seaside town. If you’re at all familiar with Korean vacation variety shows, then you’ll know that these quiet, drama-free series about hot friends getting together to make each other breakfast is a balm for your chapped brain. If you want a head-empty summer full of five attractive men chilling out, this is for you. The show premieres on July 22. As for music, Tae’s been teasing his solo stuff for a while, but has admittedly deleted everything that doesn’t make the cut.
If there’s one thing you need to know about BTS’s leader, main songwriter, and nature extraordinaire, it’s that he has a thing for fine art. Outside of being a pop-music giant, he’s also an art-world influencer whose private collection boasts some of the most exciting art from both Korean and international artists. As a former art-world person myself, I can understand his fascination with the timelessness of paintings and sculptures. He took this idea and ran on an episode of the Art Basel podcast, where he expresses his desire to find something lasting in his own career and reveals his plan to open his own museum. There’s no word yet on new music.
In an interview with Weverse Magazine, Jimin says he’s working on a “raw” and “explicit” solo album. “I just think I can show something a little more raw about me. That might include a more mature side, too, but what I’m really interested in is showing something closer to my real, personal rawness directly in a format like music or music videos,” he says. “I want to be better and cooler.” Meanwhile, he’s been taking meetings with producers and spending time recording either at his company or the CEO Bang Si-hyuk’s place, according to the video of their fateful dinner.
Aside from the release of his OST for their new video game BTS in the Seom, Suga doesn’t appear to have music coming out anytime soon — at least, that’s the official line. Eagle-eyed fans noticed his Apple Music profile combining his music under one profile (he currently has the profiles Suga and Agust D, the latter being the alias he uses to release mixtapes). Apple has since uncombined the profiles, but fans think something is afoot.
As for Jin? He’s been hot and unbothered on a vacation to Jeju Island. The eldest shared a topless picture on Instagram to show fans his BTS friendship tattoo — they’ve mostly all gotten them so far — but it was really a thirst trap, in my opinion. Ain’t nobody looking at that tattoo!