SA fans of BTS contribute to new book I Am ARMY

Published Sep 20, 2020


Cape Town - South African fan stories of global phenomenon and K-pop stars BTS are featured in a new book I Am ARMY: It’s Time to Begin.

BTS fans are known as Army, and the anticipated book is a collection of personal essays of followers from the US, South Africa, Malaysia, Brunei and Australia.

The seven-member group released their first English-language track Dynamite which has become a global hit already.

The hit tune catapulted the heartthrobs instantly to No 1 on the Billboard Hot100, remaining there for two weeks.

This is the first time a South Korean act tops the chart since its inception.

Two local Army members, Naazneen and Tagseen Samsodien, twin sisters, 37, featured in the book and contributed to a chapter on issues such as toxic masculinity.

They also run well-known BTS Army South Africa fan pages which were created in 2018.

“In the book, we discuss our experiences as women in fandom, being in our 30s who support a “boy band” and BTS’ impact on our lives,” said Tagseen.

Though the stories of each Army member are unique, they ring true with universal themes such as mental health, identity, fandom and love.

The essays are written as autoethnographies, a form of scholarly research and analysis.

Wallea Eaglehawk, the series editor of I Am ARMY, said: “It’s important to not only give a voice to the diverse fandom, but to use these unique stories to create new knowledge in the realm of popular culture and fandom scholarship.”

“The book began from a call to action on Twitter in February and went through four months of planning, writing, development and editing in collaboration with co-editors Eaglehawk and Courtney Lazore.

“It also features new social theory from Eaglehawk, a sociologist who estimated the BTS fanbases in the realms of 20-30 million.

“Yet, most of what we see written about BTS and Army comes from outside sources that do not see the value of fandom,” she said.

Naazneen told Weekend Argus the entire work is about the boy band and how they helped, supported, enabled, provided comfort and inspiration to all the people who wrote deeply personal stories.

“They have created a multi-generational and diverse fan base that is determined to push them into spaces where boy bands and Asian men have never been welcomed as artists,” said Tagseen.

As South African fans, we were a part of a movement that the world will not see again for a long time to come,” added Naazneen.

The sisters’ fan page co-ordinated a fully branded bus promoting BTS in Cape Town and partnered with Ster-Kinekor in the city during BTS’ concert films last year.

“In December, we ran a successful blood donation drive in partnership with the Western Cape Blood Services, where 100 fans donated blood in the name of BTS, among other local donating projects,” said Naazneen.

Locally, Dynamite is charting on GoodhopeFM, KFM, HeartFM, 947 and East Coast Radio.

Dynamite also achieved No 1 on iTunes in South Africa, and the official music video trended at No 2 on YouTube in the country for several days, a sign of massive local interest.

* I Am ARMY: It’s Time to Begin, is published by Bulletproof and is available online or on Amazon as a paperback or kindle edition.

Weekend Argus

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