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'It's Mutual': This Is How BTS' Fans Put Their Money And Hearts Behind The Band

People walk past a poster showing members of the K-pop group BTS in Seoul on October 12, 2020. It's one of the most popular bands in the world, with an extremely devoted fan base.
Jung Yeon-Je
/
AFP via Getty Images
People walk past a poster showing members of the K-pop group BTS in Seoul on October 12, 2020. It's one of the most popular bands in the world, with an extremely devoted fan base.

How do these seven Korean men generate about half a percent of the entire South Korean economy? No, it isn't the boxes and boxes of hair dye BTS members must go through.

The answer: They do it through their intensely devoted fans.

NPR's The Indicator from Planet Money went searching for what's behind the world-conquering k-pop band's massive influence. They found it all comes back to the symbiotic relationship between BTS and their fanbase, called ARMY.

The band drives enormous sales for partnerships with brands like Louis Vuitton and McDonald's; they drive a ripple effect of Korean cultural learning and enormous charitable donations.

Click here to listen to or read the full episode. Come for the fascinating analysis of how BTS moves the economic needle, stay for a very original cover of "Butter" by The Indicator team.

And if you need a "Spring Day" rendition to get you through this Thursday, we're partial to this Tiny Desk version.


This story originally appeared on the Morning Edition live blog.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Nell Clark is an editor at Morning Edition and a writer for NPR's Live Blog. She pitches stories, edits interviews and reports breaking news. She started in radio at campus station WVFS at Florida State University, then covered climate change and the aftermath of Hurricane Michael for WFSU in Tallahassee, Fla. She joined NPR in 2019 as an intern at Weekend All Things Considered. She is proud to be a member of NPR's Peer-to-Peer Trauma Support Team, a network of staff trained to support colleagues dealing with trauma at work. Before NPR, she worked as a counselor at a sailing summer camp and as a researcher in a deep-sea genetics lab.

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