BTS is one of the most popular boy bands in the world and perhaps the biggest K-Pop group we have today. Jin, Suga, J-Hope, RM, Jimin, V, and Jungkook, the seven members of the group, broke onto the scene in 2015 and have continued recording hits since their debut album. Despite their worldwide success, there’s a bit of confusion regarding the group’s name. In this article, we’ll dive into the true meaning behind the name “BTS” and why it is significant for the group members.
The Meanings Behind The Name
BTS has undergone several evolutions and in doing so has changed the true meaning behind its name. Over the years since their debut, “BTS” has come to serve as an acronym for two different phrases with two equally different meanings and importance.
When the group first got started, BTS stands for the Korean phrase “Bangtan Sonyeondan.” This can also be said as “Bangtan Boys,” but it translates to English as “Bulletproof Boy Scouts.”
In an interview with Affinity magazine, member J-Hope clarified why they chose the name: “it has a profound meaning […] ‘Bangtan’ means to be resistant to bullets, so it means to block out stereotypes, criticisms, and expectations that aim on adolescents like bullets, to preserve the values and ideal of today’s adolescents.”
The point of the name is to promote individuality and growth without the influence of unhealthy stereotypes and unrealistic expectations. The bulletproof part was just a way of comparing the way those things are aimed at young people, like bullets. Evading those negative aspects would make one bulletproof, giving the group their name.
In 2017, the boy band shifted a bit with their name. Instead of being an acronym for Bangtan Sonyeondan, BTS now stands for “Beyond The Scene.” After releasing a video thanking fans for their continued support of the mission and their success as a group, the band unveiled a new logo, name rebranding, and more.
Their label, Big Hit Entertainment, revealed that the new door logo “symbolizes youth who don’t settle for their current reality and instead open the door and go forward to achieve growth.” It means going beyond traditional narratives and writing your own story. A tweet from the band described it as “youth who opens the door and move forward.”
Many media outlets didn’t recognize the shift as a name change at first, thinking of it more as a slogan than anything official. If you were wondering, “Beyond The Scene” is the official name change of BTS and is still the true meaning today.
Like with the previous name, the band intends to “avoid bullets” by controlling the narrative around them and growing on their own terms.
What, You Haven’t Heard Of BTS?
So if you’re not informed about the K-Pop scene, it is possible for you to have not heard of BTS (despite their extensive international Twitter following and appearances with global media outlets). So it’s best if we tell you about the group a little more than we already have.
BTS is a Korean boy band with seven members. They were originally founded in 2010 but broke into the mainstream music industry with their debut album in 2013 through Big Hit Entertainment. They had quite a lot of success in Korean and Japanese markets, but by 2017 they were among the figureheads leading the Korean wave in the United States.
Their single Mic Drop made BTS the first Korean ensemble to earn a platinum certification from the RIAA, and their album Love Yourself: Tear made them the first act from South Korea to reach the number one spot on Billboard 200.
BTS has continued to find success in Western markets, charting four number-ones in the US within a two-year span, earning the first platinum certification for a Korean album with Love Yourself: Answer, and becoming the first Korea act to reach the top of Billboard Hot 100 and Billboard Global 200 in the same year with the single Dynamite.
The group has evolved beyond just staying in hip hop and covers a wide range of genres. Most of their music focuses on relatable issues like mental health, coming of age, loss, trying to love yourself, being an individual, and how fame and recognition have affected them.
In total, BTS has sold over 30 million albums worldwide and become the best-selling South Korean act in history. They’ve won numerous awards from Billboard, the American Music Awards, and Golden Disc Awards, while also garnering five Grammy nominations. Time magazine has even featured the group on their “Next Generation Leaders” edition.
Other Things “BTS” Stands For In Internet Culture
So, BTS is a very successful boy band from South Korea. But, while we now understand the meaning of their name, the acronym is not new in internet culture. Internet slang is full of abbreviations, and BTS used to be a popular one.
You’d see BTS floating on chat boards when someone posted something so amazing or relatable that people had to comment about their own experience. In many cases, it stood for the phrase “Better Than Sex,” which to young kids meant that the thing was super good.
In texting, BTS can also stand for “Be There Soon.” This one was especially useful in the old days when you had to press a number key on the phone multiple times for each letter of your text.
Today, both of those meanings for BTS have retired and if you see BTS on a chat board online (that isn’t 10 years old), it’s most likely referring to the band.
As a contributing writer for Music Grotto, Dakotah writes and produces professional music/media content. He works closely with editorial staff to meet editorial standards and create
quality content for the Music Grotto website. Dakotah is passionate about music in a wide variety of genres, from hip-hop to country and lo-fi to metal, and he enjoys creating music pieces for Music Grotto.