“Namjooning” in the era of burn-out: why BTS’s message of self-care is important

A brief ode to the small things* through which BTS makes a big difference in our lives

Picture from BTS personal Twitter account.

BTS is one of the most impressive things to happen in the music industry.

And, given that they started from the bottom and got to achieve things that even industry-backed artists struggle to, basic maths will tell you just how hardworking the seven members are — or, just by checking out any of their dance routines, you’d come to the same conclusion.

In fact, BTS are known workaholics, with a deep passion for making music and performing.

But, on the other side of their obvious message of hard work and dedication, impressively enough, one of the many revolutionary aspects of the Korean group’s music and rise is how they also encourage self-care, self-appreciation, and the celebration of the minimal aspects of existence — or, even, just the celebration of existence itself.

It can come explicitly in their songs, like the fan-favourite Paradise (“Who says a dream must be something big? (…) / Stop running for nothing, my friend”), in big statements like “Epiphany” (“Why did I hide my precious self? (…) / I’m the one I should love in this world”), or small details like the fresh-released “Moon” (“You shine with your existence itself”).

The habit of taking time to get out by yourself, to just relax or think, or to get in touch with nature, even gained a name for itself inside the BTS’ fandom: “Namjooning”, a reference to the groups’ leader, rapper and songwriter Kim Namjoon, who has the habit to explore museums and natural landscapes on his own.

BTS sings about working hard just as much as they sing about slowing down; they speak of their self-esteem struggles just as much as they release self-love anthems.

Being one of the most influential acts for Millennials and Generation Z around the world, their message holds even more meaning in the context of the burn-out, anxiety, and all the other problems that teenagers and young adults face nowadays, mostly symptoms of the stress and pressure that they face.

The need for self-care is not a new topic by any means — we read about it all the time; but it’s different when you hear that from people who are actually practising it, or at least, being honest about trying, in a position where it might be even harder to do it.

It’s almost as if BTS has taken their music and power to the maximum just to show their fans that, sometimes, bare minimum is fine, too.

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*Reference to BTS’ song “Boy With Luv,” whose Korean title is “ 작은 것들을 위한 시” (“A poem for small things”.)

Attorney (BR), and writer (of songs & content). Top Writer in Music on Medium. IP branding consultant at 3Três Consultoria e Criação (BR), Big Cool World (US).