There's perhaps no bigger band in the world right now than K-pop collective BTS. But the band's global fanbase received a shock on Tuesday as its seven members announced they would be taking a break from making music together to pursue solo careers.
The bandmates made the hiatus announcement together in a video for the annual BTS Festa event -- a celebration of the anniversary of their debut. It's the first extended break for the band, which first released music in 2013.
Over its nine-year career, BTS has gone from being a largely hip-hop outfit to experimenting with genres, becoming the first Korean act to top the US Billboard 200 with its album Love Yourself: Tear and selling more than 32 million albums, making it the best-selling artist in South Korean history. All seven members of the band have already released solo music, but said in the Festa video they wanted to take time to mature individually, before promising fans they would reunite one day.
"I think BTS could become a stronger group that way," said 28-year-old J-Hope in the video. "This is a very important time for us and BTS' second chapter... I just hope that since Army [BTS' fanbase] have been with us for nine to 10 years that you could understand."
The boys spent around an hour in the video eating dinner together and supportively discussing each other's solo projects. As they ate, they revealed that they had moved out of the house they shared together and are now living in their own spaces. They also talked about their love for their fans, which caused J-Hope and 26-year-old Jimin to shed tears.
Rather than "mixed tapes" (the solo compilations they've released so far), each band member will in turn announce release dates for their own solo albums, starting with J-Hope. In the meantime, the band is already discussing getting matching "friendship tattoos" to help keep their bond strong and stay connected while they're pursuing their own projects.
"We promise we will return one day even more mature than we are now," said 24-year-old Jungkook.