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BTS first found me in London — not my home. I wanted to learn their names, fell down the rabbit hole. Classic ARMY origin story. Over the next year, I explored — exploring their music alongside my explorations of London. “Mic Drop” when I entered the tube, “Euphoria” for sun on the Thames, “Anpanman” across daily Clerkenwell walks. They’re stamped on that city for me. I visited home at Christmas during that period and I hogged the aux cord to show them off to my family — so on that brief homecoming, Bangtan came too.
Later on, back in London, endpoints arrived. What was next? Where was next? I didn’t know that, but I did know: I had a hard-won ticket for a Love Yourself concert in September back in the States. So was BTS the reason I decided to leave London and come back home? Well, no, they weren’t the reason. But through that ticket, they ushered me along, played a part, filled in the landscape of the decision.
That fall, home in Southwest Virginia, I listened to RM’s “mono” every day — it fit the mood of a me who was glad to rest at home again, but who was also listless and unsure. Once again: what’s next? Leaning into Bangtan led me to an answer, one that had been bubbling under the surface for a while: Korea. Everything fell together then — my undergraduate majors, graduate degrees, cultural curiosities. BTS were my watering can; poured on, they enabled all the existing and new and ever-widening interests to grow. And so, I wound up in Seoul! This time, instead of home, they’d swept me farther away than before.
That first Seoul spring felt sparkly pink like “Boy With Luv,” which met me on the street via every radio and sound system. There was Bangtan, my city soundtrack again. RM’s “seoul” at the Han River, “ON” circling Seokchon Lake under Lotte Tower. As they settled me in, got woven into my experience, it happened: Seoul became a new home. My second summer, every time “shining through the city with a little funk and soul” hit my ears, I walked quicker, and a smile grew, and I thought — that’s me. That’s what I’m doing.
I stayed two years, surpassing my intended single one, before the next transition came. I’d wanted to go all the way back home, or maybe I had to go home, or maybe the reasons to go home were just too strong. However it happened, I ended up here: home again in Virginia. That’s now. Listless again, heartsore. Tougher circumstances weighing it down. Songs from Seoul times hurt — “Life Goes On” isn’t the soft, sweet kind of melancholy it was before — so I’ve been unsure how to use BTS during this homecoming. But it’s alright — already, new music has come. And I’m softening into being here, softening into current situations. I’m listening to “Butter,” and I’m pulling BTS back into my home again. Or: BTS are pulling me into my home again.
— Trudy Becker
Book-loving ARMY with an M.A. in Publishing and M.Phil in Children’s Literature (USA).
Illustration By: Kelly King (Twitter), @ohffsy
Thanks to Saraphina and Marie for their input.
Becker, T. (2021). London, Seoul, and Southwest Virginia — Across homes with BTS. The Rhizomatic Revolution Review , (3).https://ther3journal.com/issue-3/london-seoul-and-southwest-virginia-across-homes-with- bts.
Becker, Trudy. “London, Seoul, and Southwest Virginia — Across Homes with BTS.” The Rhizomatic Revolution Review , no. 3, 2021, https://ther3journal.com/issue-3/london-seoul-and-southwest-virginia-across-homes-with-bts.
London, Seoul, and Southwest Virginia — Across Homes with BTS by Trudy Becker is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
@ Trudy Becker, 2021