Six years ago on June 13, 2013, seven boys from South Korea made their official debut as Bangtan Sonyeondan ("Bulletproof Boy Scouts," or
"Bangtan Boys") aka BTS. It's hard to believe that RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V, and Jungkook have been together for so long — or maybe it's harder to believe that after only six years, BTS has had so many iconic moments.
Their rise to success includes everything from breaking world records to collaborating with top artists like Nicki Minaj, the Chainsmokers, and Ed Sheeran. They've also managed to assemble a staggering amount of fans —
they recently reached 20 million followers on Twitter — who call themselves the ARMY (and often act with the organization and power of one, too).
Like every year,
BTS has been celebrating their anniversary with Festa, which is a two-week period where the members drop tons of new music and video content, like Jin's solo song "Tonight" or the video for the piano version of Jungkook's "Euphoria."
how did BTS reach this point on their journey, where it seems like all doors are open to them? This trip down memory lane should provide all the proof you need that BTS didn't come to play — and that if anyone deserves the titles "icons" or "idols," it's them. 1 Their Debut Performance (June 13, 2013) BTS' first live performance was aired on M Countdown, a popular K-pop chart show. They performed "No More Dream" from their debut single album, 2 Cool 4 Skool, which had been released the day before.
their debut received mixed reviews, and they weren't immediately popular. However, the uncertainty makes the moment a lot sweeter to watch back when you know the future: In fact, BTS did just that by reacting to their debut stage in January 2019 on a later episode of M Countdown. 2 The Release Of Their First Japanese Album (Dec. 24, 2014) Ethan Miller/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
BTS often speaks about the
ability of music to transcend language, and with the release of 2014's , they proved language would never be a barrier to spreading their message. They not only translated some of their Korean songs into Japanese, including "No More Dream" and "Boy In Luv," but also penned some original songs in Japanese. Wake Up, their first Japanese studio album
Wake Up, BTS has continued to prove they can dominate in more than one language: They have released two more Japanese albums, 2016's Youth and 2018's Face Yourself. 3 The "I Need U" Music Video Started The Bangtan Universe (April 29, 2015)
While many of BTS' music videos are remembered for showing off their dance moves, "I Need U" kickstarted something very different in BTS' artistry. The music video — which has both an edited commercial version (above) and an
uncut version meant for viewers 19 and over (which involves darker themes and more graphic imagery) — introduced the ARMY to the Bangtan Universe, a story featuring fictional versions of the members who become friends but are torn apart by their own struggles.
The stories beginning in "I Need U" were originally thought to be contained within the music videos from their 2015-16 "The Most Beautiful Moment In Life" era (also known as HYYH for short). However, it now spans up to present day, and includes music videos, short films, books (referred to as "notes"), posters, and
even a webtoon. Fan theories abound as to how all of the different content connects in this non-linear timeline. Considering few other groups have managed to tell a story of this scope with and outside of their music, BTS' dedication to creating the BU is pretty incredible. 4 The First Season Of 'Run BTS!' Aired (Aug. 1, 2015)
While most of BTS' focus is on their music and performances, the members have also spent quite a bit of time on camera. They've had multiple reality TV shows, which have focused on a range of subjects from travel (
Bon Voyage) to hip-hop ( American Hustle Life), but , with 75 episodes as of publication. Run BTS! is the longest-running one
The now-weekly variety show challenges the members to write and perform skits, play games, and complete other missions, often divided into teams and with the threat of a "punishment" looming over them. The first episode shows
all seven members discussing their vision for the show, and it looks like all of their predictions (including Jimin's promise to show more of his "handsome face") came true. 5 Their American Award Show Debut (Nov. 19, 2017) 6 Their Speech At The UN (Sept. 24, 2018)
BTS has never shied away from speaking up about important issues. Perhaps most prominent in their music is the importance of self-love, since they've even
released three albums with "Love Yourself" in the title. They decided to take their desire for change further, however, when they launched the Love Myself campaign to sponsor UNICEF's #ENDviolence campaign in November 2017.
About a year after their work with UNICEF began, BTS visited the UN headquarters to support the
launch of Generation Unlimited, a UNICEF initiative working to improve education and employment access for young people. While there, RM gave a moving speech on behalf of the band, encouraging people to "tell me your story. I want to hear your voice, and I want to hear your conviction. No matter who you are, where you’re from, your skin color, gender identity: Speak yourself."
BTS was the first K-pop act to speak at the UN, and they definitely earned that honor. According to the
official Love Myself website, they were the first artists in Korea to create, fundraise for, and donate to a social campaign like this. As of April 30, they've reportedly raised over $2 million for #ENDviolence. 7 They Were Awarded The Order Of Cultural Merit (Oct. 24, 2018) Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
At the 2018 Korean Popular Culture & Arts Awards,
BTS received the Hwagwan Order of Cultural Merit from the South Korean government, making them the youngest-ever awardees. At the time, Jin, the oldest was 25, and Jungkook, the youngest, was 21. The award is given to those who spread Korean culture, a phenomenon known as Hallyu, which translates to "The Korean Wave."
BTS won't give into pressure to sing in English and incorporates elements of Korean culture into some of their performances, this award is definitely well-deserved. 8 'Burn The Stage: The Movie' Hit Theaters (Nov. 15, 2018) 9 They Made Chart History (April 27, 2019) Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images 10 The "Boy With Luv" Music Video Broke 3 World Records In 24 Hours (April 12, 2019) 11 They Gained Membership To The Recording Academy (June 6, 2019) Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
Along with their producer and the founder of their label Big Hit Entertainment, Bang Si-hyuk,
BTS was invited to join the Recording Academy, which presents the annual Grammy Awards. This invitation, if they choose to accept it, means that they can vote for who wins at the 2020 Grammys. BTS previously received a nomination for Best Recording Package at the 2019 Grammy Awards for their album Love Yourself: Tear, but joining the Recording Academy cements their place as influential artists and recognizes their impact on the music industry.
Things are not slowing down for BTS any time soon. Having just wrapped up
their , the boys are now awaiting the June 26 release of Love Yourself: Speak Yourself Stadium Tour BTS World, an interactive mobile game that depicts their journey to superstardom, and which comes with a bangin' soundtrack (it's not out yet, but you can listen to "Dream Glow," their collab with Charli XCX now). This look at their past reveals BTS' habit of working hard and winning big, so the ARMY can probably expect many more iconic moments in their future.
Get Even More From Bustle — Sign Up For The Newsletter
From hair trends to relationship advice, our daily newsletter has everything you need to sound like a person who’s on TikTok, even if you aren’t.