UPDATE: BTS’s company, HYBE, has released a statement to AP News in which they clarified that “BTS are not taking a hiatus,” despite the video’s official subtitles using the word “hiatus.“ The statement did agree that “Members will be focusing more on solo projects at this time.” More details to come when we have them.
When BTS posted a schedule for the release of their Proof album, the spot for June 13 had only “???” written in it. Fans began to speculate: Could this be a world tour announcement? Something even bigger? Instead, BTS dropped their 2022 FESTA Dinner Party video on YouTube, with a few major bombshell announcements — including the news that BTS will be taking a hiatus, which came as a bittersweet shock to many fans.
For the unfamiliar, FESTA is the period in early-mid June during which BTS and their fanbase, ARMY, celebrates the group’s anniversary of their June 13, 2013 debut. FESTA is often accompanied by new music, behind-the-scenes content, and a Dinner Party video in which the members sit around a table, laugh, eat, drink, and share reflections about the past year as well as their careers up to that point.
About two minutes into this year’s Dinner Party, however, member J-Hope said, “This is different from our past BTS dinner parties,” setting the tone for the rest of the hour-long video. This Dinner Party also comes on the heels of BTS’s Proof anthology re-release, which was labeled as the start of a “new chapter” for the group. But what will that chapter look like? Well, here’s everything we learned from the Dinner Party and what it means for the future of BTS.
1. They’re going on hiatus — not disbanding.
“We’re going on a hiatus now,” Suga said candidly, according to the video’s English subtitles. “Should we get into that?”
And get into it they did: The members were candid about feeling unclear about their trajectory as a group and what they hope to accomplish, something that they hope the hiatus can help them achieve. “We’ve lost our direction and I just want to take some time to think and then return,” leader RM said. Jimin added, “We’ve come to think about what kind of artists we each want to be remembered as to our fans. I think that’s why we’re going through a rough patch right now. We’re trying to find our identity, and that’s an exhausting and long process.”
For fans of Western groups (cough, cough, One Direction), the word “hiatus” might be synonymous with “ending,” but rest assured that BTS aren’t going about this as your typical boy band. Suga made it very clear: “It’s not that we’re disbanding. We’re just living apart for a while.” The group even spoke about getting friendship tattoos of the number seven, which they already apparently followed through on earlier this month.
In other words, they don’t want people to misinterpret their decision and say that they’re breaking up permanently. Admittedly, this hiatus looks like a little different than their past breaks in 2019 and 2021 since it doesn’t have a definitive end date as of yet, but the boys do have an end goal of coming back together once they get the chance to stretch their creative muscles a bit more. So don’t panic – yet.
2. They have a plan to focus more on solo work.
The members are shifting focus from the group to their own creative pursuits during the break. “We could focus on our solo work this time, and later when we gather again as a group that synergy will be like no other,” V said. Suga mentioned that he wants to try a genre other than rap, which is what he’s familiar with, and Jin brought up his original dream of being an actor, with the other members encouraging him to try it out during the break.
Jin also said that all of the members have planned release dates for solo albums except for him, since he’s still working on his songs and thinks he will be the last to drop new music. While the idea of “going solo” is considered a death sentence for a lot of other groups, this concept won’t exactly be a shock to ARMY. The BTS members already have a sizable amount of solo music under their belt, from RM’s RM and mono., to J-Hope’s Hope World, to Suga’s work as Agust D on Agust D and D-2. But though Jin, Jimin, V, and Jungkook have released solo songs as well (with the latest, Jungkook’s “My You,” coming out as part of this year’s FESTA celebrations), they haven’t released full-length projects yet.
The band also said that instead of treating their solo releases as “mixtapes” as they have in the past — which meant that many songs were not available on major Korean streaming platforms, often got very little promotion after release, and were rarely performed live — they would consider them more traditionally as albums. RM said the change gives the members a chance to “officially be showing our individual colors,” since many people know the group BTS but don’t seem to know each of the members that well yet.
3. J-Hope will be the first to release new music, possibly as soon as next month.
On June 7, Lollapalooza announced that J-Hope would be solo headlining the music festival on July 31. At the time, this led to fan speculation about a BTS North American tour to follow, but obviously, a BTS tour doesn’t seem like it’s in the cards anymore with the hiatus. Instead, Lollapalooza will serve as a chance for J-Hope to lead the band’s new stance on solo music. “I’ve really started my solo preparations now,” he said, and RM said he would be the one to start off their solo releases.
Fans have been anticipating new J-Hope music since his hour-long set at Lollapalooza is longer than the length all of his previously released songs added up together. Only time will tell how soon before or after his set he’ll drop an album.
4. The pandemic delayed this new chapter by two years.
“Our Season 1 was up to ‘ON,’” RM said in the video, referring to the lead single for their 2020 album Map of the Soul: 7. He added that they were initially supposed to promote that album with a huge world tour, but the COVID-19 pandemic (which started right around the time Map of the Soul: 7 was released and tickets for their shows went on sale) caused the tour to be postponed and eventually canceled.
From that setback, BTS decided to turn to releasing singles such as “Dynamite,” “Life Goes On,” and “Butter,” “to make an impact on the charts and the public,” according to RM. It’s only now that they’re returning to their original plan for ending the first chapter of their career, and why they chose to release an anthology like Proof to bookend it.
5. They want to push back against the traditional K-pop idol system.
“The problem with K-pop and the whole idol system is that they don’t give you time to mature. You have to keep producing music and keep doing something,” RM said. He continued, “I’ve changed as a human in the past 10 years, so I needed to think and have some alone time.”
Many K-pop groups have about two or three comebacks, aka album or EP (also called mini-album) releases, per calendar year. With the high demand for new content from fans who are used to a faster-paced schedule, plus the oversaturation of the K-pop market, BTS intentionally going on this hiatus marks a departure from what would have otherwise been expected of a group of this caliber. It might be a welcome one, however, given their candid discussion of burnout and feeling disconnected from their music in the last couple years.
6. They spoke about burnout after “Dynamite,” “Butter,” and “Permission to Dance.”
When BTS first started out, they were known for their emphasis on hip-hop, though they’ve expanded their musical horizons a bunch in the nine years since then. Perhaps their biggest musical adjustment was for 2020’s “Dynamite,” a disco-inspired track and their first English single, which they followed up with “Butter” and “Permission to Dance,” both uplifting English songs as well.
But even though “Dynamite” and “Butter” ushered in a new era of BTS and scored them Grammy nominations for 2021 and 2022, they also marked a different kind of turning point for the group.
“For me, it felt like the group BTS was within my grasp until ‘ON’ and ‘Dynamite,’” RM said.”But after ‘Butter’ and ‘Permission to Dance,’ I didn’t know what kind of group we were anymore.” He added that he no longer knew what types of stories he wanted to tell in his lyrics and that he wants time to figure it out so he can contribute something to the world, a sentiment that Suga later echoed. “Somehow it’s become my job to be a rapping machine and remake music and speak in English for the group,” RM said, concluding that “I kept feeling like I was trapped inside myself.”
BTS even teased the idea of hitting their creative reset button on Proof, with lyrics in new songs “Yet to Come” and “For Youth, singing, “Was it honestly the best? / ‘Cause I just wanna see the next” and “You’re my best friend / For the rest of my life / I wish I could turn back time.” With a while to go before they come back together as a group, there’s a million directions they could go in, from tapping into some of their past eras’s sounds to trying something entirely new.
7. Run BTS will continue as a group activity.
Not all of the group’s activities will be ceasing, thankfully for ARMY who love to see the members together. They will continue to shoot and air Run BTS, the variety game show that the group has starred in since 2015, during the hiatus.
They announced this during the Dinner Party, and V later took to fan messaging platform Weverse to reassure ARMY of this decision: “All seven of us are different in the things we like, the things we dislike — in personality, disposition, and tempo — but our consideration of ARMY is identical, so we’ve got to [continue filming our variety show] Run BTS,” he wrote, according to a translation by fan translator Wisha. The last episode of Run BTS came out in October 2021, so the show’s return may be a comfort to fans who have missed it.