Be it the poetry of Spencer, works of Rabindranath Tagore, or music of America, a work of art is often a direct or indirect representative of the culture it is set in. When one begin to follow an artist’s music and makes an attempt to understand the narrative, one often find themselves delving into areas that might have had some influence on her/his music.
This initiates a cycle of cultural consumption. A foreign fan greeting you with “annyeonghaseyo” is a good example of how people are becoming an active participants of this cycle. With information being just a click away, it has become really easy for people to overcome language barriers and educate themselves about other countries’ cultures.
Today, the South Korean boy group, BTS, officially become the youngest recipients to receive South Korea’s highest civil cultural honour “Hwagwan Order of Cultural Merit”. The septet became the first ever Idol group to receive the honour.
181024 BigHit’s Tweet
[#TodaysBangtan] Hwagwan Order of Cultural Merit received at the 2018 Korean Popular Culture and Arts Award ??????? This is an award that we received both thanks to ARMY, and together with ARMY. Thank you??
Trans cr; Denise & Yein @ bts-trans https://t.co/YGeifpvYPe
— Bangtan Translations (@BTS_Trans) October 24, 2018
The order of cultural merit is given to individuals who help spread and create a positive interest in a particular nation’s culture amongst people across the world. Their contribution are counted and considered towards the development of nation’s art and culture. In an article shared by BBC News, Matt Pickels shared the astonishing stats for increasing interest in the Korean language,
“A report by the Modern Language Association shows that Korean uptake in US universities rose by almost 14% between 2013 and 2016, while overall language enrolment was in decline.
The latest statistics show 14,000 students are learning Korean in the US, compared to only 163 two decades earlier.”
Each member took time to express their gratitude to their fans, families, staff, and all the people who have helped them achieve the major feat. Interestingly, the leader of group RM who is often in charge of speeches gave space to other members of the group to talk about the merit and their individual feelings about it.
— ???? in ?? (@BTSARMY_Salon) October 24, 2018
With their consistent influence in the Western music industry and their record breaking performance on some of the most significant platforms, BTS have proved themselves worthy for the merit. Their “influence” reached new heights when they were invited to speak at the United Nations. Through their music and narratives that consist of colloquial references, the group has created an interest amongst their fans about Korean culture who want to know more about the places their favourite artists come from or talk about.
While BTS have been one of the many artists who have been helping the country gain popularity amongst foreign fans, they are one of the few artists whose domination on in the International space has had everyone talking about the boys and the South Korean music industry.
It is now important for us to broaden our outlook and look at the group beyond the frame of “social artists”. With their presence at an event like Korea-France friendship meet, BTS have now become artists with both social as well as national impact.
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