BTS’ struggles before fame, from playing free K-pop concerts in Hollywood to sharing one dorm room and getting dissed by variety show hosts

  • You Quiz on the Block’s Yoo Jae-suk called their rise ‘movie-like’, but they were once cut from 2016 Busan One Asia Festival’s live TV broadcast
  • Before the group launched its own reality show Run BTS, the hosts of Weekly Idol and Flower Crew were rude to members Suga and Jungkook

Topic |  BTS

Media www.rajà  – While BTS has made a name for itself as one of the biggest boy bands in history, there was a time when they were nobodies. When they first debuted, BTS and their agency, Big Hit Entertainment, were considered small players in the world of K-pop. As a result, they struggled to get recognised among their more established peers.

BTS. Photo: Handout
BTS. Photo: Handout

However, thanks to the members’ hard work and the support of the Army (the official BTS fan club), the seven members quickly gained popularity in Asia and the rest of the world. In a recent appearance on Korean variety show You Quiz on the Block, MC Yoo Jae-suk called their rise to fame “movie-like”.

So what were some of the hurdles that the group faced on the way to becoming world-famous?

The boys shared one dorm room until 2016

BTS’ old dorm life. Photo: @blackswanjimin/Twitter
BTS’ old dorm life. Photo: @blackswanjimin/Twitter

On multiple occasions, the members of BTS have shared stories about their first dorm, where all seven of them had to share one room and even one bathroom as trainees.

On You Quiz on the Block, member Jungkook even said that as he was the youngest, he had to wait for the others to fall asleep before he could shower.

They had to personally invite people to a free concert.

South Korean boy band BTS performs on stage during a concert held at King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in October 2019. Photo: DPA









Despite selling out big stadiums today, BTS didn’t always have an easy time getting people to watch them perform. In an appearance on Korean reality show American Hustle Life, the members said they once had to hand out fliers along LA’s Hollywood Boulevard and invite passers-by to come to a free concert.

As a testament to their success, there is now a store along Hollywood Boulevard selling BT21 merchandise (featuring the boys’ self-designed avatars), where years earlier they had passed out those fliers.

The group were mistreated by variety shows

BTS. Photo: @bts_bighit/Twitter
BTS. Photo: @bts_bighit/Twitter

Before the launch of their self-produced variety show Run BTS, the group had a tough time on other Korean variety shows.

In an appearance on Weekly Idol, member Suga, who almost quit Bit Hit Entertainment as a trainee, presented a self-produced song for the hosts Dony and Cony, whom he idolised. The pair cut the song off midway and repeatedly reiterated that it was “not their style”, even declining when Suga offered it to them for solo promotional purposes.

BTS member Jungkook. Photo: @bts.jungkook/Instagram
BTS member Jungkook. Photo: @bts.jungkook/Instagram

When Jungkook appeared on Flower Crew, he presented burgers and sodas to the hosts. Instead of accepting the food, the show’s cast members said that the burgers looked like leftovers and asked Jungkook to take them away, despite Jungkook insisting that he “sincerely bought them”. Many fans noted that the star looked like he was holding back tears in the broadcast.

The group was cut from 2016 Busan One Asia Festival’s live TV broadcast

BTS. Photo: @bts.bighitofficial/Instagram
BTS. Photo: @bts.bighitofficial/Instagram

Despite being set to perform at the Busan One Asia Festival – a landmark annual cultural event in Korea – in 2016, BTS was pulled out of the line-up at the last minute. Fans were only notified via the event’s VLive, where a message was sent stating, “BTS will not be appearing in [the] broadcast.”


The group still performed at the end of the show, but were cut from the TV live broadcast. Only fan videos of the performance have been released since.

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