Blood Sweat & Tears: BTS talks about trainee life, fame, goals on Korean TV show

March 26, 2021

 The K-pop juggernauts that have taken the world by storm got personal in the latest episode of a popular Korean TV show, talking about the blood, sweat and tears they put into their career and how they feel about being a contemporary music icon.

BTS appeared on the 99th episode of the talk show “You Quiz on the Block,” hosted by comedians Yoo Jae-suk and Jo Se-ho — aptly titled “Blood Sweat & Tears” — late Wednesday. The 100-minute show, filmed at the traditional setting of the Korea Furniture Museum, was packed with candid and poignant moments capturing the group’s dramatic trajectory.

This composite image, provided by CJ ENM, shows BTS posing with "You Quiz on the Block" hosts Yoo Jae-suk and Jo Se-ho. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE)(Yonhap)
This composite image, provided by CJ ENM, shows BTS in an episode of "You Quiz on the Block" hosted by comedians Yoo Jae-suk and Jo Se-ho. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)
This photo, provided by Big Hit Entertainment, shows BTS taking part in a Grammy red carpet event on March 15, 2021. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)
This image, provided by Big Hit Entertainment, shows a concept photo of BTS' new album "BE," released on Nov. 20, 2020. The South Korean megastar made history with the album's title song "Life Goes On," which on Nov. 30 became the first-ever non-English song to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the music chart's 62-year history. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

This composite image, provided by CJ ENM, shows BTS posing with “You Quiz on the Block” hosts Yoo Jae-suk and Jo Se-ho. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE)(Yonhap)

Coming from a small agency that was on the verge of considering not debuting its trainees due to financial issues, the seven-piece act looked back on the pressures of their trainee days, which was like a survival stage each month.

They recalled the ups and downs of living in a small apartment where they wrangled over sharing bunk beds and “there were so many shoes” due to the large number of trainees. They could rarely meet their families and life was a tough cycle of school, training and a few hours of sleep.

“There’s a certain opacity coming from being a trainee; you throw (yourself) at all the risks,” RM said. “I was once sitting in front of a convenience store with Ho-seok, looking up at the sky, and said the sky is murky just like our future.”

Jimin, who was the septet’s last member to join as a trainee, confessed how he slept just two hours a day to catch up as a latecomer.

“I practiced until 4 a.m. and woke up at 6:30 a.m. to go to school, then practiced and slept. Sometimes I slept at the studio on a mattress. But it was thanks to the members that I could endure those times. They made me feel I want to go through this and join the team.”

Jungkook, the youngest member of the team, mentioned how he was dwarfed by moving to the South Korean capital where everything “seemed so big and made (him) feel scared.”

The vocalist, however, said those tough times were what made him who he is.

“It’s because I was scolded, and I went through all those things that I am who I am. I want to thank other members for always being there for me and nagging me.”

The band, which has achieved feat after feat from being the first Korean act to debut No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 to the first Korean nominee to perform at the Grammys, voiced that fear came with their dizzying ascent to a global sensation.

“It gets really burdensome when something you didn’t even dream of comes true,” said Suga, who had thought of making a quick transition to a producer after topping local music charts and holding a solo concert.

“When you are on an airplane and you see the ground you know that you’re flying. But when you’re flying among the clouds, it doesn’t even feel like flying. While I’m really honored and thankful, I thought a lot about whether this is right and whether this is what we really wanted.”

RM agreed, comparing the experience to “riding an ad balloon.”

“It’s scary, like you all get on a massive ad balloon and it keeps going up and up to the space. Until you board, you only think it would be a soft landing rather than going off to space.”

In fact, Jin confessed in the group’s acceptance speech at the 2018 Mnet Asian Music Awards that the group had even “considered disbanding,” taking fans by surprise.

But a lot of soul-searching has led them to agree that remaining on stage is what they want to do till the end.

“I’m so thankful to (team members) for overcoming that (phase) and remaining strong,” Jin said.

“There’s nothing that lasts forever. Suga once said, ‘I want to wrap things up with a soft landing rather than a nosedive.’ I really relate with that,” J-Hope said.

“I hope that we are on stage until the last good moment. That it will be a soft landing … that it will be a (good) landing for those still waiting for us,” Suga added.

But until that day comes, the septet has some goals in mind, including winning a Grammy.

“Being nominated itself was great, but I guess I wanted to win an award. Not winning somehow refreshed me. I think it will be a driving force for becoming better,” V said.

Suga, affectionately nicknamed Minstradamus after the French astrologist Nostradamus for predicting in advance the group’s numerous accolades, agreed.

“We didn’t get an award this year. But we want to be active as singers for a long time, it’s difficult of course, but perhaps next year, or the year after or before the end of our career, we want to get a Grammy.”

In the meantime, though, their top priority is meeting members of ARMY — the group’s dedicated fan base — when the pandemic fades.

“I still remember singing ‘Mikrokosmos’ at the end of our global tour in each country. That’s what I want to do first. I want to have a fun performance in front of ARMYs and sing ‘Mikrokosmos’ at the end,” V said.

When given the signature “You Quiz on the Block” question of what the first line of a book on their life would start with, the members gave different answers.

“Dope,” said Jin, referring to the septet’s early hit of the same title.

“In life, predictions always tend to miss the mark,” said RM, contemplating on the septet’s unexpected journey.

The BTS-featuring episode of “You Quiz on the Block” posted an average 6.7 percent viewership Wednesday, peaking at a record 8.6 percent at one moment, according to Nielsen Korea.

BTS is also set to appear on “Let’s BTS,” a self-branded talk show produced by public broadcaster KBS, on Monday. The show will be hosted by veteran comedian Shin Dong-yup.