Dear reader, it has been one year since the launch of The Rhizomatic Revolution Review  (R³). Since then, we have published Issue 1 and hosted a free virtual conference, Rhizome Connect, and more! We are thrilled to publish our second Issue which continues to celebrate the creativity, intellect, and humanity of creators and authors, inspired by BTS.
The past year has been tumultuous, to say the least. The pandemic continues to test our individual and collective resilience, and more than ever, we have found new ways to stay connected. A year ago, the Editorial Board could not have dreamt the extent of the rhizomatic growth of R³. Our non-profit organisation now has an advisory board, an editorial board, managing editors, copy editors, reviewers, designers, content creators, a marketing team from across the globe who have extended the vision of R³ in astounding ways.
Despite the hardships, we managed to stay connected with each other to develop our 2nd Issue. We were fuelled by deep gratitude for BTS and the sheer passion within the fandom. In this “Letter from R³“, some of the members of R³ share with you their personal letters, artwork, and photographs about their vulnerability, their experiences of working together as well as words of gratitude for BTS, ARMY, and R³. We hope that as you peruse through these letters and the published work in Issue 2, you can reflect on the small or big moments of connections that replenished you when we were forced to be apart.
We thank you for joining us on the journey of becoming the first multidisciplinary journal on the socio-cultural and economic impact of BTS and ARMY. As “life goes on,” we commend your resilience during these unprecedented times, and we hope you feel inspired by Issue 2.
Letter from Ana ( Editorial Board member )
“The rhizome grew in ways that we couldn’t even imagine, thanks to the magic of the Internet and the connections powered by the music of BTS.“
R³ was launched on January 1st, 2020. No one would imagine that, just a few weeks or months later, the world would “stop” without any warning, as Jungkook would sing later in BTS’s “Life Goes On.”
Still, we published our first issue, co-hosted a track at an international marketing conference along with prestigious academic journals, hosted an online conference (Rhizome Connect), grew our team, and received dozens of submissions from ARMY, scholars, and dedicated individuals from all over the world.
We had so many odds against us to stay connected in 2020, yet we did. The rhizome grew in ways that we couldn’t even imagine, thanks to the magic of the Internet and the connections powered by the music of BTS.
We deserve to be celebrated. Not only did we have incredibly ambitious goals for R³ before the pandemic, but we achieved them and went even further against all odds.
As I write this, I hope things will be better for everyone once Issue 2 is published. It won’t change the fact that it’s a result of efforts, thought, and care put out during such a difficult time, but hopefully, we will remember the good things more than the bad.
This is just the beginning, and I wish we’ll continue to “connect through 7G,” like RM raps in BTS’s “Stay.”
Letter from Sahana ( Reviewer )
“I am a very recent addition to the revolution, but it feels familiar and known as if time was waiting to offer me a place here.”
Whether you’re ARMY or not, I hope you will take a moment to go through R³‘s work. BTS’s journey and process is being well documented on various platforms and through various media, but few are giving ARMY the attention and acknowledgement that they deserve. R³ has taken on the massive task of examining and documenting the depth of that connection between BTS and ARMY. I am a very recent addition to the revolution, but it feels familiar and known as if time was waiting to offer me a place here. We were there during the revolution and we invite you to take a peek into our experiences and join us in our adventures. It is a story that we are writing together, that we hope will span many years and join the pages of history-making. ARMY and BTS intend to move hand in hand, and while it may have begun with BTS, it certainly will not end with them.
Letter from Monika ( Marketing Team member )
“We create spaces where you can be shamelessly happy over a new photo and jump to analyzing lyrics in the next second. The journal brought all that for me…”
I could not be happier that you found this space. Not only because we can share art, words, research of many great authors and ARMYs with you but it’s a small window to our small galaxy at R³. It’s a final (not last) product of months-long work but oh so worth it.
2020 has been a huge year of changes and despite it all, I felt the most connected to you, ARMY, and BTS than ever before. We always thrived in the online spaces, we are strong like that. We built spaces, connections, nodes, networks that span countries, languages, religions, races, ethnicities, genders, and more. I couldn’t be more proud of it especially in the year 2020. I joined BTS on their journey years back and I joined R³ a year ago — March 2020. Both of these occurrences made a huge impact on my life. Just as BTS was working on the BE album, our R³ members went through multiple meetings, last-minute decisions, calls that turned from work to friendly chat. I remember one moment very vividly. During Rhizome Connect live panel, j-hope’s Dynamite teaser picture came out. We stopped the discussion and shared the screen with everyone. I think it perfectly encapsulates the best parts of our fandom — we want to discuss, analyze, connect but we will have fun while doing it. We create spaces where you can be shamelessly happy over a new photo and jump to analyzing lyrics in the next second. The journal brought all that for me: I met new friends, listened, and got inspired by our amazing members. It connected me to BTS and ARMY on so many new levels — and there is still so much to explore.
Now you have joined us, you are a permanent but ever-changing part of our rhizome. Hope this corner of BTS and ARMY community makes you feel like you are part of something huge, something revolutionary.
Letter from Charlotte ( Reviewer )
“May rhizomatic connections continue to connect ARMYs all over the world, and may you, dear readers, be part of them.”
I recently watched the KDOC video with the lecture of our dear colleague Dr Lee Jiyoung. One sentence from this lecture really stuck with me: “Nobody knows if one person will get connected with another person when and how.”
It was late August in 2020 when I first watched the BTS “Carpool Karaoke” video that would turn me into an ARMY. While at first, I felt a little embarrassed about “fangirling” over a band at the age of 30, I soon discovered the tremendous diversity of the ARMY fandom. I was also very impressed about how well-connected ARMYs were and how they used Twitter to coordinate all sorts of social projects, thus creating a positive impact on the people around them. Reading about all this really gave me hope for future generations and years to come.
Though I did not know back then that this phenomenon had a rhizomatic structure, let alone about the word “rhizome.” Being a researcher myself, I was very excited to further find out about scholars doing research on BTS and ARMY. I read about The Rhizomatic Revolution Review  (R³) and eventually applied for a reviewer position. By then I had learned what a rhizome was, but the real “extent” of the rhizomatic structure of ARMY hit me only a few weeks ago.
I had created a Twitter account in January and started some random conversations with other adult ARMYs. Frankly, it was not even my goal to make new friends, I was actually just curious about ARMY Twitter. However, with one of the other ARMYs of similar age, long conversations developed quite instantly. It turned out that she happens to be a doctor from Malaysia — I live in Germany, so this coincidental connection literally spans to the other end of the world! We discovered that we were totally on the same wavelength regarding how we perceive and express our appreciation for BTS, but also regarding a lot of other things. We quickly also talked about a lot of personal topics, and I was surprised that I was comfortable sharing those things but also honored that she seemed to trust me as well with her stories. For reasons of convenience, we soon switched to WhatsApp — not without each of us assuring the other about five times that we had never exchanged phone numbers with random people on the internet before, but that we somehow had this mutual trust which we still cannot explain ourselves. We still talk over WhatsApp and regularly shake our heads about the coincidence of this rhizomatic connection, having been formed because we randomly started talking on Twitter one day in February. Yet, as Dr Lee said in her lecture about the characteristics of rhizomatic connections: “Nobody knows if one person will get connected with this person when and how.” May rhizomatic connections continue to connect ARMYs all over the world, and may you, dear readers, be part of them 💜
Kelly ( Editorial Board member )
Hearts and flowers are traditional symbols of love, all kinds of love. I don’t have a “BTS came when I needed them most” story to tell. When I needed them most, they weren’t even born yet. And even if I did have that kind of story, it’s unlikely that I’d share it. Sharing my emotions with strangers requires a level of trust I’ll never reach. But I do have a “BTS are such lovely, talented, complex, diligent, warm, hilarious humans whose existence just makes my life better” story. It’s pretty simple and clear, hence I used simple, clear symbols. It’s also very hard for me to share my “art” with others — as a perfectionist, all I see are the flaws, but I’m sharing anyway. BTS are brave, so I can be too.
Letter from Cristina ( Marketing Team member )
“Muito obrigada ao BTS por proporcionar vários momentos importantes na minha vida e por ter sido a minha primeira conexão com o mundo acadêmico.”
Com a chegada da pandemia, comecei a passar por muitas dificuldades emocionais. Passei a sentir ansiedade devido a todas as incertezas que o mundo estava apresentando com o coronavírus. Um dos momentos que me senti melhor foi graças ao BTS, durante o show “BangBangCon: The Live.” Além de me divertir assistindo o show, o que me fez sentir bem foi ver tantas pessoas na plataforma e no twitter se conectando para ver o primeiro show do BTS durante o lockdown. ARMY de diferentes países, de diferentes fusos horários, unidos para prestigiar o BTS. Foi um momento muito único e me senti conectada com várias pessoas que nem conhecia durante aquele show, e pra mim isso foi um momento muito rizomático.
Muito obrigada ao BTS por proporcionar vários momentos importantes na minha vida e por ter sido a minha primeira conexão com o mundo acadêmico. Vendo os resultados do BTS, me interessei por estudar esse fenômeno e comecei a escrever artigos sobre o grupo, me interessando cada vez mais pela vida acadêmica. Muito obrigada também a todos os membros do R³ que tornaram possível uma união de conteúdo acadêmico relacionado ao BTS em um só lugar. Eu amo fazer parte do R³ e espero poder contribuir ainda mais pro desenvolvimento do nosso trabalho!
Letter from Lyna ( Editorial Board member )
“Ce journal est un trésor, non seulement de par son contenu qui ne cesse de croître de de s’enrichir d’articles multidisciplinaires, mais aussi de par toutes les personnes qui travaillent pour faire en sorte que ces articles soient publiés…”
Bonjour à tous,
Quelques mots pour dire merci. Merci à Dr Lee Jiyoung de m’avoir poussée à rejoindre ce projet, ce journal, au moment où il commençait tout juste à prendre forme. Merci à toute l’équipe du journal qui partage cette merveilleuse aventure avec moi. Et qu’est-ce qu’elle est belle cette aventure! C’est une découverte et un apprentissage au quotidien pour moi qui suis très loin du milieu littéraire, journalistique ou même académique. C’est également un partage humain de connaissances, d’échanges d’idées et de points de vue, de fou-rires et de pensées émues parfois . . . avec toujours un fil conducteur, un point commun qui nous lie tous à travers le monde, BTS.
Ce journal est un trésor, non seulement de par son contenu qui ne cesse de croître de de s’enrichir d’articles multidisciplinaires, mais aussi de par toutes les personnes qui travaillent pour faire en sorte que ces articles soient publiés, notamment les comités de lecture, les correcteurs, et les illustrateurs, entres autres. A toutes ces personnes qui donnent de leur temps bénévolement pendant des heures, voire des jours, je dis un grand, un très grand merci! Et je n’oublie pas celles et ceux qui font vivre ce journal en dehors des publications, les équipes de gestion et de communication sur les différentes plateformes ainsi que les personnes impliquées de près ou de loin dans tous les évènements passés et à venir.
Merci est un tout petit mot mais il veut dire tellement de choses. Alors ce dernier, cet immense MERCI, il est pour BTS. On a toujours des chansons ou des mélodies que l’on fredonne qui nous rappellent des moments clés de notre vie. Je suis heureuse et reconnaissante d’avoir les chansons de BTS pour rythmer les jours de ma vie dorénavant, avec de belles mélodies, des sons qui restent dans la tête et des textes poétiques, inspirants, bouleversants . . . Merci à eux de m’avoir permis de découvrir tant de nouvelles personnes passionnées et passionnantes, persévérantes et engagées, ouvertes d’esprit et ouvertes sur le monde qui nous entoure.
Je prends beaucoup de plaisir à voir grandir ce journal et son lectorat. Je lui souhaite une belle et longue vie! Pour terminer, je souhaite à tous les lecteurs de cette deuxième publication de partager avec nous un moment qui sera à la fois plaisant et enrichissant. Merci à vous de lire ce journal qui est, somme toute, le vôtre.
A poem from tnkr ( Marketing Team member )
“…Everythings seems like going down
But recalling all the things u say seems like hope...”
Hope we can live our imagination
Everythings seems like going down
But recalling all the things u say seems like hope
That sweet hope is gonna keep me up
The bottomless from consuming my thoughts
Thank you for reminding me how things can be
Clouded thoughts clear up
Thankyou for reaching out
I love you a lot
I am waiting
Sitting in a corner
Waiting for everything to hit me like a wave
reassured that i may be
Have u by my side
Letter from Courtney ( Copy Editor )
“My gratitude extends beyond BTS to the communities they’ve helped create in us, in ARMY.”
Perhaps now more than ever, I’m beyond grateful to BTS and to the ARMY communities I’m a part of. With 2020 behind us, it felt like 2021 should be a sigh of relief, but there’s still much to do before we can truly take that breath of fresh air. It was a tough and challenging year for me, as I am sure it was for most. One of the only constants for me during this time was BTS and the ARMY community. I’m so grateful that I can take solace in BTS’s magic shop, that I have a place to go to heal.
My gratitude extends beyond BTS to the communities they’ve helped create in us, in ARMY. R³ is one of my communities, and I’m thankful that we can come together like this to celebrate BTS and ARMY in new and exciting ways. Our constellation keeps me going, and although I’m new to the team, I’m anticipating all the amazing experiences to come. I can’t wait to watch R³ continue to grow and inspire more ARMY to explore BTS, whether that’s through research or creativity. Thank you all for your tireless hard work, dedication, and passion for both BTS and ARMY. Communities like this are what make the ARMY experience the most worthwhile.
Crystal ( Reviewer and Marketing Team member)
Looking back at a time before I knew these seven wonderful boys of BTS, I don’t know how I managed to push on without them. In the years following my introduction to BTS, I lost four very important people in my life between Sept 2015 and March 2018. With the loss of my grandpa, grandma, dad, and mom, I felt so alone. I was lost, depressed, and felt as if I were just walking in circles trying to find who I was again.
The connection to BTS was one I didn’t expect but one I am forever thankful for. Their song “Supplemental Story: You Never Walk Alone” was where my love for these seven boys turned to respect and admiration.
I have always connected with music my entire life, and when things got tough, I always went back to it for comfort. I had no idea that a group could comfort me in such a way that I would again love myself and find my way. Knowing I was not alone helped, and seeing how hard they worked, how humble they continued to be despite their rise to fame, made me realize that I too can become everything I was meant to be and more.
I am extremely thankful to BTS, ARMY and R³ for continuing to remind me I am not alone and encouraging me as I walk down this unknown path to a place where I will continue to love myself, love others, and support those that need just a little bit more.
Letter from Vanessa ( Managing Editor )
“I would like to remind everyone that even if it’s not physically, we will always be connected one way or the other.”
I’m an R³ Managing Editor, university student and more importantly an ARMY!
First off, I would like to thank everyone for the interest shown for this project. Being behind the scenes, our greatest joy is seeing ARMYs enjoy and interact with the work done by the journal.
I would also like to extend my gratitude to every creator and to my co-staff as well. I’m grateful that I was given a chance to be part of this amazing journey with just as amazing and intelligent people. I pray that our journey will not be cut short and that together we can keep growing and learning under the same banner.
A little word on staying connected. As humans are social creatures, it is important if not vital for us to form social links one way or the other. Being connected means creating a link between different peoples. Especially in this trying time, in which I wish everyone to be and stay safe, social resources are scarce with lockdown and fear of illness. We’ve had to cut off our physical connections which in turn took a toll on our health. I would like to remind everyone that even if it’s not physically, we will always be connected one way or the other. Through social media, phone calls or messaging groups. As ARMYs, we have the biggest hive connection. Even through projects like this present journal we connect and maintain connections with others. Please always remember that for as long as we’re linked with this purple thread you will never be disconnected.
On that, I wish everyone an enjoyable time with this issue.
Take care and until the next time! 보라해!
Letter from Lina ( Reviewer )
“I am thankful for the camaraderie in ARMY that holds no prejudice, no divide, and no judgement.”
I am thankful for falling into this rabbit hole. At a time in my professional life that has been on auto-pilot for close to a decade, I truly believe that my time at the BTS Interdisciplinary Conference in London was the turning point.
I am thankful for meeting ARMYs from all walks of life, coming together and sharing the one true being we all have in common: BTS. It was an inspiring start to my journey of which I will remind myself how I started writing and research, searching for answers to bigger questions that we are presented with in this new decade of a new century.
I am thankful for the camaraderie in ARMY that holds no prejudice, no divide, and no judgement. We may be separated by borders, time zones, and (still!) a virus; but we remain connected with seven men who brought us all together.
I am thankful for the silent support from my mom and my brother who both know about my interest, and have somewhat shown their own interest by saving newspaper articles on BTS and putting on their songs when I am in their cars.
I am thankful to the young inquisitive minds who find my BTS-themed research intriguing even though I am still finding answers to the “why BTS?” questions myself. It spurs me to ask more questions, but would there really be an answer?
I am thankful for the pandemic which allowed me to be truthful about my emotions and also a time to reflect and understand myself to be a better person. It brought many beginnings and beautiful discoveries through some of the best storytellers of the 21st century: BTS.
Yes, I am full with gratitude. When I first stepped into the fandom, reading the stories of ARMYs when they share “BTS comes into your life when you need them (the most” is something that I never understood , , , until I experienced it myself. So, thank you, BTS, for porting me into a large mikrokosmos with so many shining stars of the ARMY. Thank you for being our Anpanman and saving me, saving us.
Letter from MacKenzie ( Editorial Board member )
“Repeatedly reading and seeing others express themselves so bravely and honestly — even old ARMYs like me allowing themselves to feel and enjoy openly. It feels revolutionary.”
When we’re young we feel deeply and express everything: our joy and our pain. We grow and learn, by necessity and naturally, to smooth down and lock away our wayward hearts in order to function.
I have learned this too and I don’t cry . . . much. I don’t cry when I should, when it is expected or appropriate. I think . . .too much and resist just — feeling. I’m thankful for this, honestly, the world is too sad to feel it all and showing your cards is too risky, but it takes me by surprise when something pushes through my instinctive walls and causes a genuine reaction.
Maybe that is what is so addicting about BTS — the emotions, subtle, strong, and real that they rip out of me. From Everythinggoes to the wild rush of joy, pride, and excitement I felt tonight watching BTS perform for MusicCares (DrummerJK!). BTS’s music, words, and being connected to myself and guide me to think in new ways about the story I tell myself
However, I equally enjoy and benefit from the experience of being part of ARMY. The breathless wonder and collective glee of every roaring stadium — especially that last one in Seoul, watching the twinkling drones. Tense with anticipation and physically leaning forward in my seat every time at the start of Singularity and realizing everyone else is too. Repeatedly reading and seeing others express themselves so bravely and honestly — even old ARMYs like me allowing themselves to feel and enjoy openly. It feels revolutionary. I’m happy to be here. I can’t wait to be in that stadium again, when the tears come streaming down my face because this experience is something I can’t replace.
Letter from Yumi ( Marketing and Design Team member )
“I’ve learned so much from you and I’ve learned so much about myself through you, so I am thankful for that.”
I have come to realize, since being part of this community, this fandom that seems so much larger than life, that gratitude is such a simple feeling. It’s an easy, light-weight form of love that we can hold in our hearts and give to another person. I envision it like a bundle of purple, heart-shaped balloons that you pass around freely. Maybe not so perfect, yet oh so precious. And in abundance, it fills you with such joy and uncomplicated bliss that lifts you up, whether by giving gratitude or receiving it.
So, in the spirit of ARMY’s big-hearted nature, allow me to share the sheer magnitude of my gratitude, my own bundle of purple balloons, to all of you — fellow fans, readers, supporters, lurkers, and even just the curious onlookers — who have witnessed our journey: BTS’s journey, ARMY’s journey, and R³’s journey!
I am very grateful to BTS, for having made music and continuing to make music and art that thoroughly keeps me inspired during the most creatively-engaging days, and for comforting me through my most challenging and loneliest nights. I’m grateful for them for having encouraged so many other people, that ultimately built the ARMY as one of the biggest fandoms I have ever engaged with online and offline!
I am so, so appreciative of ARMY. You guys have formed the most unique experience I could have had, especially as a living, breathing community. We may have had ups and downs, but we’ve all been able to grow and gain insight through this together. I’ve learned so much from you and I’ve learned so much about myself through you, so I am thankful for that.
To R³, the editorial board and fellow team members, it’s been such a wild, wild ride! It’s been nearly one whole year since I joined, and we’ve evolved so unbelievably well. I’m so happy I’m a part of this organization, and I hope to continue to do so well into the future. Cheers to all of us for making it this far!!
Maraming salamat! Daghang salamat! 감사합니다 Gam sa ham ni da! ありがとうございました Arigatou gozaimashita! Muchas gracias! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!
Looking forward to all the reactions, comments, and questions this new issue will bring to the table.
I purple you! We purple you!
Rachel ( Design Team member )
It’s been a privilege to be a small part of the platform that tells ARMYs’ stories. Thank you.
Snigdha ( Editorial Board member )
In a year when our worlds came to a complete standstill, when we were physically apart from our loved ones, when we feared and worried (and continue to do so) for our health and our future, I have never felt more grateful for the moments that helped me feel connected and restored. From album and mixtape launches, BangBangCon, Rhizome Connect, Issue 1 launch, and MOTS ON:E, I thank BTS, ARMY, and the R³ family for staying connected and empowering each other. Onwards and upwards, team!