BTS isn’t your typical K-pop boy band: they are a cultural phenomenon, and seven very attractive, affectionate and sexually ambiguous men who have inspired many, many hot stories. These fannish pleasures are an ongoing preoccupation for the Comfortfic Multi-Fandom Reading Group, a monthly quarantine project for fans to explore the therapeutic aspects of fanfiction. Since some of us are ARMY (aka BTS superfans), we’ve created a primer for OMG.BLOG into the phenomenon that is BTS and a fanfiction reading list.
Wait, what is fanfiction?
Fanfiction is work produced by fans for fans, inspired by other fictional or real works. It is non-commercial and predominantly produced by the femme identifying/queer community. It allows folks to re-imagine problematic mainstream narratives, or examine representations of gender, sexuality, and class that are often lacking in today’s stories.
Who are BTS?
BTS (Bangtan Sonyeodan) are a seven-member K-pop group that debuted in 2013 under Big Hit Entertainment. They are arguably the biggest band in the world right now, being the first group to sell three number #1 albums since the Beatles. They are also the first K-pop group to have a number one on the Billboard charts and broke YouTube’s records for most views in 24 hours with more than 100 million views.
Their music empowers and focuses on messages about self-love, acceptance, and self-discovery. This resonates with a diverse and global fanbase, thanks to the band’s social activism: they have spoken at the United Nations, and in June made a $1 million dollar donation to Black Lives Matters, which was subsequently matched by ARMY.
BTS is unique because of their special connection to their fans, known as ARMY. The relationship they have with fans is personal and authentic, demonstrated by a reciprocal and creative exchange of plentiful content: live streams, tweets, vlogs (also known as Bangtan Bombs). These interactions go beyond the normal attempts at parasocial closeness that western celebrities have with their audience. They are just as in love with their fans as their fans are in love with them.
The combination of passionate fans, beautiful messages and hours of content leads, of course, to a lot of fanfiction.
Wait, fans write fanfiction about BTS? Aren’t they real people?
Fanfiction can derive from real people rather than fictional characters/stories, which is known as Real Person Fiction (RPF). It is constructed based on perception of the subject’s public interactions and media coverage. A type of fanfiction that is popular within BTS is Real Person Slash (RPS).
Slash is basically romance between two characters of the same sex, regardless of their sexual orientation in the canon material.
What is BTS slash like?
All the members are stunning, and often seen being affectionate. (They care about each other that much.) Given their origins in a country with stifling LGBTQ rights, and a global audience that has collective determined an autonomous intersectional fan space, their slash is unabashedly poly and queer. There are many stories that delve into consent, top and bottom power dynamics, and kink. It’s fun!
AFTER THE JUMP: Learn more about the lovable members of the band along with the five sexy key themes of BTS slash!
JIN | Kim SeokjinSIGN Born December 4, 1992. Sagittarius sun, Aries moon. He’s flexible.
CALL HIM “HYUNG” Part of the vocal line, Jin is BTS’s oldest member and visual: this is why he’s “Worldwide Handsome”. (He deflects this broad-shouldered beauty by cracking dad jokes, and playing MapleStory.) Based on ample reality show evidence, Jin flexes both domestic goddess skill and gourmand taste.
ALEXA, PLAY ‘Moon’, ‘Epiphany’
SUGA | Min Yoongi
SIGN Born March 9, 1993. Pisces sun, Virgo moon. Just a soft honey boy from Daegu.
BIG TSUNDERE ENERGY Min Yoongi might seem stoic, but look closer and there’s a big softie that loves to cook for his other members. A fiery rapper and prolific producer, he’s thoughtful in his lyrics and interviews, and has voiced his support for LGBTQ rights in a country that has yet to legalize same-sex marriage.
ALEXA, PLAY ‘People’, ‘Trivia 轉: Seesaw’
J-Hope (hobi) | Jung Hoseok
SIGN Born February 18, 1994. Aquarius sun, Taurus moon. He’s super friendly and playful, but can quickly snap into dance teacher mode.
PURE HUMAN SUNSHINE This rapper is literally a Murakami flower: the most outgoing member, with supreme boi on acid style to match. Watching him freestyle, you can see why he’s their dance leader, and the glue that holds the band together.
ALEXA, PLAY ‘Outro: Ego’, ‘Daydream’
RM | Kim Namjoon
SIGN Born September 12, 1994. Virgo Sun, Sagittarius Moon. He’s basically a disaster Virgo who has lost approximately 34 pairs of airpods.
NAMJOON FOR PRESIDENT Which K-pop boy band leader and rapper delivered a speech at the United Nations General Assembly? This introspective, Carl Jung-reading dude, who has an 148 IQ, but can’t chop an onion. This is why Namjoon’s happy place is looking at art or exploring nature. (ARMY has a name for it: “Namjooning”.)
ALEXA, PLAY ‘Intro: Persona’, ‘moonchild’
Jimin | Park Jimin
SIGN Born October 13, 1995. Libra sun, Gemini moon. His house is Slytherin.
GUS VAN SANT WANTS TO WORK WITH HIM This shimmering vocalist and dancer often describes himself as “cutie, sexy, and lovely”, and that’s clear in any video with him in it. He’s sexy when he performs, playful for fans and other members, and will go to great lengths for their attention.
ALEXA, PLAY ‘Serendipity’, ‘Lie’
V | Kim Taehyung
SIGN Born December 30, 1995. Capricorn sun, Aries moon. Just a strong-willed Capricorn doing his thang.
A WORK OF ART A sense of Taehyung’s essence lies in this ‘Pied Piper’ fancam: willful, free, and constantly keeping you on your toes. Whether through his husky deep vocals or eclectic style, the other members truly let him be who he wants to be. (This is why he is the rapline’s biggest fanboy.)
ALEXA, PLAY ‘Singularity’, ‘Stigma’
Jungkook | Jeon Jungkook
SIGN Born September 1, 1997. Virgo Sun, Leo Moon. Introverted laundry king, but an absolute FREAK on stage.
TALENTED GOLDEN MAKNAE A perfectionist you’ll rarely catch slipping, and when you do, he’ll beat himself up for it. JK’s the youngest, and relies a lot on the older members for support while making them laugh with his many impressions. He genuinely loves his fans, and recognizes their emotional labour.
ALEXA, PLAY ‘My Time’, ‘Euphoria’
OK, I don’t think I know all their names yet, but I’m interested in the fic.
Fantastic. To help, we’ve identified five key themes in BTS slash that makes it so unique, as well as links to some of our favourite stories. Please note we focused on stories from the Archive of Our Own. We’re not publicly identifying here fanwork titles and their respective authors in order to not break the fourth wall.
Since fanfiction is about soft feels and fantasies, many of its stories centre around pairings: this is “shipping.” Within real person fiction, media fandoms like BTS or even Hockey thrive because there is literally a cast of characters that form a known collective entity, and with that comes real and imagined relationship dynamics to play with.
All this to say there isn’t just a single one-true-pairing (OTP) to contend with. BTS has seven members, so there are fans that might love Kim Namjoon and Min Yoongi together (“Namgi” is the ship name) and there are other fans that also love an OT3 between Namjoon, Yoongi and Hoseok (Namgiseok), the band’s rapline.
Why so poly? Because they freely express their love and care for each other. Even though the band debuted in 2013, they formed as early as 2010. There’s history.
Hence this Kim Namjoon | RM/Everyone Run BTS Dick Challenge. BTS has their own long-running weekly variety web series, where they whole-heartedly compete in increasingly absurd challenges, like cooking or floral arranging. This fic re-imagines a Run BTS-esque competition where members compete to see who can take Namjoon’s big dick. (And yes! This ends up becoming an OT7 orgy.)
2. Because there is so much real-time documentation surrounding the band, the fanfic must actively engage with these “canon” materials, as well as the “fanon”. Basically, meta-intertextuality is sexy.
Within fan studies, scholars like Kristina Busse have noted how RPS surrounding boy bands infuse their typically restrictive celebrity images with more nuanced character portrayals. The art of a good fanfic is how closely a writer hews to the “canon” — real facts and events — but also engages with the “fanon”, canonical beliefs held by fans.
Inevitably, many canon-informed BTS fics hone in on a Kpop idol’s supposedly closeted lifestyle. Beloved within BTS fandom, this “coming out” Halsey/Namjoon fic shrewdly taps into the close friendship the singer Halsey has with the band since featuring on their 2019 single ‘Boy With Luv’. Given Halsey’s own open bisexual nature, this fic jumps off into a very accurate portrayal of (awkward and very polite) Namjoon coming to terms with his own coming out.
Alternate Universe (often abbreviated as “AU”) is a type of fanfiction in which the setting departs from the canonical universe. It starts with a “what if”: what if instead of musicians, BTS were wizards at Hogwarts? AUs help us imagine how these characters react and be interpreted based on a shifted environment and context.
A common “what if” spin-off scenario is to diverge from the established canon, or even take place post-canon. Through a canon divergence alternate universe (AU), we get this distillation of what is important in a fandom, like specific characters or even a particular OTP dynamic.
What if only Namjoon debuted, leaving Yoongi and Hobi behind? A rapline-focused fan favourite, this Namgiseok (Namjoon / Yoongi / Hoseok) Non-Famous AU pictures a melancholic solo artist Namjoon reconnecting with his former bandmates, now a couple running their own Queens, New York restaurant. It’s raw, going through what polyrelationship with a lot of unresolved baggage looks like.
What makes BTS AUs even more distinct is that BTS have their own canonical AU storyline called the Bangtan Universe (BU) — yes, think Marvel Cinematic Universe, but an alternate universe reality for the boys. The storyline starts with their album series The Most Beautiful Moment in Life. It’s told through several transmedia pieces: music videos, a webtoon, video game and so much more.
The combination of generous social content and fictional BU inspires epic narratives, like this post-apocalyptic dystopian future sci-fi saga where reincarnated Kim Namjoon brings back cryogenically frozen Jungkook and Jimin. It touches on class, grief and loss, layering in believable and captivating character moments.
A big part of slash’s appeal is envisioning equitable romantic relationships and sexual encounters, especially from a femme queer perspective. So it’s horny, but also very soft. This fixation on sexuality, gender, kink and consent even informs the collective worldbuilding.
VMin, the ship name for the relationship between the ’95 vocal liners Taehyung and Jimin, is rooted in a documented closeness: they refer to each other as “soulmates”, like to cuddle and share beds, and even recently co-wrote a poppy duet about their friendship. (Yes, we recognize Korean masculinity is different from Western and more physically affectionate, but… facts are facts.)
This documented closeness allows fans to imagine all sorts of relationship dynamics, like this Model!Taehyung seeking Professional Dom!Jimin (to help ease some stress) fic. It’s clear the author has a really firm grasp of kinks, BDSM culture, and it works really well within the story.
A controversial trope that dives into consent and sexual power dynamics is the omegaverse, otherwise known as alpha/beta/omega dynamics (A/B/O). It’s an AU consisting of worldbuilding informed by a cluster of fannish tropes involving humans with animalistic traits, and this re-writing of sex and gender essentialism intersecting with the dynamics of dominance and submission.
As a result, characters and their relationships are defined by where they fall in Alpha/Beta/Omega categories (A/B/O). It’s worldbuilding introducing essentially a secondary gender: you can be a male omega, or a female alpha. Alphas tend to be “dominant”, have dog-like penises when fully aroused, and go into “ruts”. Betas are like, normies or muggles. Omegas are “submissive”, and whether female or male, can get pregnant. They go through “heats”, which varying on the way an author interprets the Omegaverse, can be like, just a period or you know, a Pon farr where you need an alpha to fuck your brains in order to resolve this super-intense-bordering-on-painful sexual arousal.
In BTS, the previously stated poly-ness sees many writers exploring narratives where the band’s togetherness is akin to a dog-like “pack”. The genius of this Namjin A/B/O epic is translating BTS’s OT7 interpersonal relationships through pack dynamics, with “pack” being a metaphor for found families.
Fanfiction is also about embracing familiar tropes while turning them on it’s head. How do we take these romance (usually hetereo) tropes like Enemies to Lovers to Sharing the One Bed and make it queer? After all, the gays need their stupid clichéd romance stories too.
Writers are often using these familiar tropes as a gateway to get people in the door while examining themes like power dynamics and equality in relationships in the text.
Take this epic YoonJin Fake/Pretend Relationship AU inspired by K-Drama plot lines. (A fan fave, it even has it’s very own movie trailer.) Yoongi and Jin are hot sons of Korean conglomerates who make a mutually beneficial arranged marriage happen. It investigates power imbalance, and how the Fake/Pretend trope challenges that imagined dynamic. In the fic, Jin self-sacrifices himself by getting married to prevent the same fate from happening to his brother, Jungkook.
Even in this MinJoon Crazy Rich Asians AU, the author spins the original romcom with class commentary, non-binary characters, and a polyamorous wedding that will make you cry. This is why fanfiction is magical: it allows for the creativity in storytelling that says we can have our guilty pleasure tropes but also dismantle our viewpoint on what healthy relationships can look like and should be.
HELP! I know all their names, and binging on episodes of Bon Voyage isn’t enough.
We feel you. For more BTS fic recommendations, check out the full Comfortfic Multi-Fandom Reading Group | OMG.BLOG Commissioned BTS RPS Reading List, spotlighting more pairings and fic.
And if you’re interested in their music, you can listen to a a curated OMG.BLOG OT7 Vibes playlist to get you in the mood below or on Spotify.