Just as one does not simply walk into mordor, one does not simply get into BTS. BTS’ words and dictionary are beyond extensive. So much so that it can be a bit overwhelming if you don’t know any of the lingo or terminology. There’s so many boys — RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V, and Jungkook — and SO many albums to listen to, so many music videos to watch.
But past just bopping to their latest jams and freaking out about their latest hair colors (and WHY Jungkook cut his hair…), fans have to keep up with all the lingo that K-pop fans use!
So you’ve made your way through a few of their most popular songs after seeing their “Boy With Luv” performance on SNL, or you finally decided to learn all their names, but now you’re left with more questions. What in the world is a comeback? (Where did they even go in the first place?) Why does everyone call each other hyung? Don’t fret! We’ve got a glossary of every BTS and K-pop term you need to know. Now you can impress your friends, whether ARMY or not, with your knowledge. We promise–you’re going to want to keep these in your back pocket.
1. Aegyo (애교)
Acting cute. Usually using a higher voice, hand gestures, a childish facial expression. Not every group’s members do this, and BTS don’t do it often, but when they do, it’s pretty cute.
Suga’s stage name for his solo rap project.
The fanbase of BTS. Not unlike American pop, every K-pop group has a fanbase with a name (my personal favorite is Seventeen’s, “Carats”), and ARMY stands for “Adorable Representative MC for Youth,” which is a mouthful, so you’ll usually see them referred to as simply ARMY.
Every K-pop group also has a custom light stick used during concerts. The BTS version is an Armybomb, with a concert mode that connects to bluetooth, so all the lights twinkle in unison to the beat of the song.
The founder and co-CEO of BigHit Entertainment, BTS’ label and management company. His full name is Bang Sihyuk, but fans and the boys usually call him Hitman Bang.
6. Bangtan Bomb
Cute short little behind-the-scenes clips of the boys posted to their BANGTANTV channel on YouTube. They’re kind of mundane and simple, which is refreshing when so much about BTS seems larger than life. For example, here is Suga eating a snack.
7. Bangtan Sonyeondan
The next time someone asks you what “BTS” stands for, wow them with your knowledge by replying with “bangtan sonyeondan” (방탄소년단)! Translated to English, this means “bulletproof boy scouts.”
Your favorite boy! The boy you’re drawn to. Fans also sometimes have a “bias wrecker,” someone they’re suddenly drawn to, making them question ~everything they’ve ever known.~ I’m an RM bias, but Jungkook was my bias wrecker.
The entertainment company that manages BTS. They manage fewer groups than a few of the other K-pop powerhouses, but have successfully debuted a second boy group this year.
10. Bon Voyage
A nearly annual travel show that began in 2016. So far, BTS has traveled to Europe, Hawaii, and Malta, and they just finished filming BV 4. They’re available to view on VLive. Usually about 10 or so episodes, the boys go on day trips, pair up for expeditions, and enjoy a new country.
Every song that isn’t a title track. We still don’t know why people don’t just call them “songs.”
The BTS collaboration with Line Friends. The boys created their own characters with #love and now there’s plenty of adorable merch with their characters on it!
A sweeping term for putting out new music. While “comeback” often denotes being gone for a long time in Western music, comebacks happen fairly often in the world of K-pop.
A term used in the hip-hop community for when a group of rappers, usually freestyle, rap one after the other — not really a rap battle, just having fun. BTS sometimes includes a “Cypher” in their albums; their last one was in 2016 on their WINGS album. Cypher 3 is known within the fandom to be one of their most scathing diss tracks thus far.
15. Dance practice
A choreography video for a music video. Almost always filmed in one take in a studio, and it really highlights the dance portion of performances. (The Blood Sweat & Tears dance practice is a shining example!)
16. Daesang (대상)
Meaning “grand prize.” The highest, biggest achievement a K-pop artist can receive for selling the most digital and physical albums, awarded at two end-of-year award ceremonies: the Golden Disk Awards and the Seoul Music Awards.
17. Date format
When fans upload photos of the boys, they often date them using the format YYMMDD. For example, a photo of Jimin on SNL in April would be dated “190412.” Fans love to refer to specific days that the boys looked handsome in photos with that exact date, too.
A group’s first song! BTS debut in June 2013. Trainees work really hard just to make it to the point of debuting.
At its most basic level, they’re videos taken by a fan during a live performance, but it’s most often a vertical video focused on a particular performer.
Exactly what it sounds like — a chant the fans do. Most often, this is the members’ names in age order, beginning with the leader of the group. Fanchants can also be bits and pieces of the song that fans shout during performances — during Fake Love, fans yell “FAKE LOVE” right back at the guys after they sing the words “fake love.” (In case you wanna practice, the BTS member fanchant is: “Kim Namjoon! Kim Seokjin! Min Yoongi! Jung Hoseok! Park Jimin! Kim Taehyhung! Jeon Jungkook! BTS!”)
The term originated in Japanese in the anime and manga fandom, but largely stands for acts done solely to please and excite fans. Believe it or not, Jimin doesn’t inherently get joy out of making his hands into a heart; he does it because it excites the crowd! Often goes hand-in-hand with aegyo.
Professional fans. They focus on one idol and follow them around at concerts (…and regular life, sometimes) to take high-quality videos and photos. (Here’s a Jin fansite in action at their concert in Riyadh.)
A weeklong(ish) celebration of the anniversary of BTS’ debut on June 13. New dance practices, unreleased photos, and a sit-down video where the boys reflect on their time are all parts of the ~celebration~, as well as a huge concert to conclude the week called Muster. Muster is actually a military term that means assembling the troops — a gathering of the ARMY! At Muster, BTS do performances that they don’t usually do at their regular concerts, like old songs and role-reversed performances. It’s all incredibly cute.
At concerts and events, fans prepare items — often photos, goodie bags with snacks, or bracelets and charms — to give out to other fans. It’s a sweet gesture, and you don’t necessarily have to give them to receive.
25. Hangul (한글)
The Korean alphabet.
26. Hyung (형)
Korean culture places a lot of emphasis on respect for elders, often through honorifics. Idols use these to show respect to those who are older and of higher status. In BTS, the younger guys will refer to older guys as “hyung,” or attach a “hyung” to the end of their name. (This goes past just hyung; other honorifics include noona (men referring to women), oppa (women referring to men), and unnie (women referring to women).
27. Hwaiting! (화이팅)
A term loosely derived from the English word “fighting.” It’s a phrase of encouragement similar to “you got this” or “break a leg.”
Jungkook’s video series. He makes beautiful videos and calls them Golden Closet Films (G.C.F.), since he started editing them in his closet, and because he’s the “golden child” of the group. Here’s one from their trip to Saipan.
Since K-pop is a relatively new industry, groups can be sorted into roughly four “generations,” or eras. BTS is technically a third-generation group, and groups that have debuted fairly recently, like ATEEZ and The Boyz, are fourth generation.
Industry~ term for a k-pop star.
Ways of grouping the guys together. In BTS, there’s a rap line (RM, Suga, J-hope) and a vocal line (Jin, Jimin, V, Jungkook). There’s a hyung line (the older guys) and a maknae line (younger guys). People also joke about this, too, and will post a photo of a few boys together asking, “what line is this?”
32. Maknae (막내)
The youngest in a group. For BTS, this is sweet Jungkook!
What we’d call an EP in Western music. Usually seven or fewer songs. Persona, which came out in April, is technically a mini.
Members work on side projects in their spare time, and often end up with a delightful body of solo work. So far, we’ve gotten mixtapes from all of rapline: J-hope’s “Hopeworld,” RM’s “mono.” and Suga’s “AgustD,” which he released under the stage name AgustD. They display a totally different sound and side to the boys.
Music video. Fans call them MVs because that’s how they’re uploaded to YouTube.
Fans like to mash-up names of the boys when they’re discussing them as a unit, whether platonically or sometimes, hypothetically, romantically. Jungkook and Jin together are Jinkook, V and Jimin are Vmin, and so on.
in every physical copy of an album comes a photocard, which fans treat similarly to trading cards, trading and selling until they’ve got a roster of their favorite boys.
V likes to say “I purple you” instead of “I love you” because he is a dreamy and endearing boy. BTS fans like using purple hearts for that reason. “Purple is the last color of the rainbow colors,” he said. “Purple means I will trust and love you for a long time.”
A Variety show that runs weekly featuring the boys playing games for points and rewards. Absolutely delightful and fun to watch, usually about 30 minutes each.
40. Sasaeng (사생)
A stalker. Fans that take their love waaay too far, following the boys around when they’re not on schedule, invading their privacy.
41. Season’s Greetings
A giant photoshoot done at the start of the new year, often packaged into cute photocards, calendars and more. They often make a video to accompany it, too.
42. Selca (셀카)
Korean word for selfie.
43. Stage name
Not every idol has one, but sometimes they choose to go by one rather than their given name. For example, Yoongi’s stage name is Suga, and Namjoon’s is RM.
A verb or a noun, depending on how it’s used, meaning to be a fan of something. Often used as an imperative (“Stan Loona!”), it can also be used as a way to identify yourself as a big fan of a boy or a group.
45. Summer package
Similar to Season’s Greetings, but done in the middle of the summer. ARMY is never without cute and fresh BTS photos!
46. Sunbaenim (선배님)
A word used to refer to those with more experience than you in your industry. BTS refer to first and second generation group members as such.
47. Tannie: aka Yeontan
This is V’s dog who makes frequent appearances in Bangtan Bombs and occasionally in livestreams. J-Hope also has a pup named Mickey, and Yoongi has a dog named Holly. RM has a dog named…. Rapmon, but his parents mainly take care of it. Yeontan s the most prevalent bangtan pup by far.
48. Weverse/Weply: Weply
The official app for BigHit merchandise and Weverse is an international fan forum under the same umbrella. (Fancafe exists, but is entirely in Korean — with a growing international fanbase, BigHit decided to create an international space for fans.) Both fans and BTS can post on Weverse, and each boy has their own account, so you know who’s posting what. There are twitter accounts dedicated to collecting all of the boys’ cute comments back to ARMY on Weverse.
This streaming platform used to distribute content. Lots of groups use it; BTS uses it for livestreams, Bon Voyage, RunBTS, comeback trailers, and more.