This year ARMY Academia, or “BTSology,” came into its own with notable events every month.
And while 2020 will be studied for decades for so many reasons both hopeful and horrible, one reason for ARMY and entertainment industry experts will certainly be BTS’s groundbreaking performances and albums. We can’t wait to see what 2021 has in store for BTS and the ARMY Rhizome.
BTS: A Global Interdisciplinary Conference
In the first week of January 2020, Kingston University held an in-person conference focused entirely on the implications and artistry of BTS. Organized by Dr. Colette Balmain (@ColetteBalmain), much thought was put into how to design an experience that was as accessible and open to new members as ARMY itself.
- “‘A lot of fans do more work than academics’: Inside the BTS conference at Kingston University”
- “Two days of total immersion in BTS at Kingston: a report from the Global Interdisciplinary Conference Project”
Bonus: Launch of the Rhizomatic Revolution Review
January also brought the official launch of the first academic journal dedicated to a music group’s influence. The Rhizomatic Revolution Review  attempts to be a publication that welcomes and values academic, fan,and acafan participation. Several editorial board members attended the Kingston conference and were greatly influenced by its outlook and mission.
They aren’t the only music group to sponsor artistic endeavors, but they are one of the first pop groups to do it on such a large and authentic scale. The members of BTS recorded secret curator content and interviewed the artists involved themselves. Since then, especially RM has especially shown his interest in the fine art world – winning an “Arts Council Korea” award for his donation of 100 million KRW to the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, which the museum used to “publish its out-of-print art publications for distribution to public libraries and schools.”
Bonus: Map of the Soul: 7
February also brought us the masterpiece Map of the Soul: 7, which included amazing performances of “Black Swan” and “On.” The lyrics and emotions behind every song touched ARMY and helped prepare them to face the challenges ahead.
Growing from relationships started at the Kingston conference, an account dedicated to collecting and retweeting academic work related to BTS started in April and grew rapidly over the next few months. @BangtanScholars currently has over 20K followers and helps to promote many of the academic projects in the fandom.
Bonus: Discussion Threads
Starting in April, Ali_WMK317 ran several excellently moderated and thoughtful discussion threads during some tumultuous times in the fandom and we wanted to include it to elevate the kind of discussion we love to see!
BTS and Jung
Professor Murray Stein
The connection between BTS’ work and the philosophy of Karl Jung was made plain by the album series title Map of the Soul, which matched the title of a book about Jung by Dr. Murray Stein. The professor addressed the topic through a series of books and webinars introducing the concepts of self actualization to ARMY and culminating in the final book in the series, Map of the Soul – 7: Persona, Shadow & Ego in the World of BTS, published in May.
Big Hit Case Study
Harvard Business School
ARMY twitter exploded with group study chats and explanatory threads when the Harvard Business Review released a case study of Bang Shi hyuk and Big Hit.
ResearchBTS, Ami Documentary Team, and OWOL Movie Team
From July 9 through Sept. 30, 2020, more than 400K ARMY participated in an ARMY census that seeks to quantify the community in a careful and academically sound way. The results are forthcoming and the organizers hope they will be used to support future research and academic work. Follow @ARMYCensus for ongoing updates.
Rhizomatic Revolution Review
As summer under quarantine turned into another school year of video meetings, many in education and academia felt the strain of this strange year. In response, the Rhizomatic Revolution Review created Rhizome Connect, or Rcon, in order to host a unique, highly accessible, international, virtual conference. With the help of the Our Magic Shop fanbase, Rhizome Connect attracted over 2,000 registrants and offered 40 presentations and booths and a lively discord community over the week and half the event ran. Explore the Rhizome Connect Discord for yourself and watch out for future events!
Bonus: JudyKnows Comprehensive Business Analysis
Dive into this 10 part series of analysis of all parts of ARMY, BTS and Big Hit.
Rhizomatic Revolution Review & Dream Glow Magazine
Two academic ARMY publications put out their first issues in September (or the very early hours of October). The Rhizomatic Revolution Review published a digital issue of research, essays, art, poetry and personal stories, and Dream Glow Magazine, a literary journal, published a digital version of their fiction, poetry, and art inspired by BTS.
Bonus: Korean learning with BTS & Bangtan Academy
Joining ARMY staples like @ARMYAcademics (tutoring), the Korean language learning community, Bangtan Academy, rebranded and grew exponentially in September. This was in conjunction with the release of the “Learn Korean with BTS”, a major effort by Big Hit to encourage Korean Language learning.
BTS: A Paradigm Changer
Korea Marketing Association
The Korean Marketing Association included an entire track on BTS for their annual international conference. Accepted papers will be published in special issues of either Asia Marketing Journal or the Rhizomatic Revolution Review  (R³). The track, BTS: a paradigm changer in martech and/or innovation, consisted of four sessions over the day and covered a wide variety of topics: branding, storytelling, offline engagement, and social media.
BE & “Dynamite”
Grammy nominations, Billboard Hot 100 #1 hits, and beautiful, deep comfort during a globally painful time, BE and “Dynamite” are the medicine ARMY needs.
Dr. Candace Epps-Robertson and Professor Jin Ha Lee
Launched initially at Rhizome Connect, this pedagogy project to collect and organize resources and community knowledge has officially kicked off this month with a twitter account and a goal to publish the first version in January.
Bonus: The ARMY Tradition of Gift Giving
Dr. Candace Epps-Robertson is also studying the tradition of gift giving among ARMY. No matter if you have or haven’t received a gift from another ARMY you can contribute to this research by filling out this survey.,
Looking ahead to 2021
BTS: A Global Interdisciplinary Conference II
Hosted by California State University, Northridge, the submission deadline for this conference has passed and it is set to take place in early May.
Submissions for Issue 2 for The Rhizomatic Revolution Review have closed and the issue should be published in March. Dream Glow‘s submissions have also closed and should be coming out with atheir second issue will be published soon.