For those of you who don’t know, in K-pop there’s a thing called a bias and a bias wrecker. The same way the world of sports, gaming, dancing, IT, medicine, has its own language, K-poping does the same. Bias is your favorite individual in a group. Not to be confused with being a solo stan which means being a fan of only one member of a group and disliking the rest, something that is frowned upon in the world of ARMY (the passionate fans of BTS). To call yourself an ARMY you MUST love all seven members of the group or in its own language be an OT7 – borrowed from the expression OTP (one true pair) – and meaning One True 7 for all seven members of BTS.
Bear with me, I beg you, I know it sounds crazy. As an older member of the army and not really familiar with slang and the ever changing words crazy kids use now a days (ship, tea, fleek, bye Felicia, we be known, etc.) it took a bit of time to adjust and be able to understand all the language intricacies of this fandom.
Anyway, we have established a bias is your favorite member of the group. The one you adore above the love for the rest. Bias wrecker is the one other member who is constantly vying for bias position, seeking to dethrone the other member and become your #1.
My recently dethroned Bias Wrecker was Yoongi, who was dethroned by Jin for his adorable song Tonight which is about his dead pet sugar glider who he misses so much (as an animal lover this song destroyed me). Jin was then dethroned by Jeon Jung-kook.
Usually people that are good at everything annoy me. One of the few exceptions is my cousin who is smart, hilarious, a great dancer, kind, a bloody brilliant doctor, plays the piano, paints, sculpts, is a great mother, wife, daughter and sister and can talk to you about the hidden pain and depth of Honey BooBoo. She doesn’t annoy me because she isn’t cocky in her amazingness. Unlike Gwyneth Paltrow for example who is an accomplished woman that irritates the fuck out of me in her smarminess and idiotic conscious uncoupling. Anyway this is not about hating on Gwyneth but she irks me so I stand by that statement.
In theory and applying all the rules of past engagement I should be irritated by Jungkook (Kookie to us adoring fans). In the world of K-pop, the youngest member of a group is called Maknae… Jungkook at 21 is the youngest member of BTS and therefore their Maknae. But since Jungkook is like my cousin and good at every damn thing he has been dubbed by the entire K-pop community as the Golden Maknae.
You name it, he can do it. For real, I kid you not. Dance, sing, rap, sports, art, photography, film-making (check his Golden Closet Film inventory on Youtube!), archery, running, weightlifting, wrestling, (I could keep just naming things) anything that young man sets his mind to, he will not only accomplish but excel at. It should be annoying. Recently he decided to learn English because he felt badly that Namjoon, their leader, was often burdened with the role of spokesperson because the rest don’t speak fluent English. In a few months the progress was nothing short of jaw dropping. As someone who speaks English as a second language, I can’t help but be in awe of how quickly he picked it up and how well he pronounces the words that come so difficult to a tongue used to speaking Korean. It also made me wonder when exactly he had the time to get better at English with the calendar of frenzied activities they keep. It boggles the mind.
It is kind of a shock to see that level of dedication and ambition in someone as young as Jungkook. It seems the kind of single-minded focus reserved for Olympians, who wake up at 2 a.m. for decades to be on the ice/track/pool/gym by 3 a.m. and get four hours of training before going to school. They forego parties and friendships and a normal childhood to feed that hunger. I have wondered sometimes whether Jungkook regrets spending so many years away from his family and working so hard on his career, but one only has to see him fairly explode on a stage, filled with a level of energy and a manic type of joy mere mortals can’t comprehend, to understand he would’ve been wasted living a different type of life. This is more than a career to him, it’s obvious to anyone with eyes. It’s a passion, a calling, his craft. I don’t understand that at all, I have no passions to speak of, at least not that level of passion he demonstrates and I can’t help but admire it. That level of passion that drives you to make sacrifices that aren’t even seen as sacrifices. I admire the same in my cousin, who would bring her textbooks on vacation and instead of frolicking in the beach with the rest of us she would study.
Jungkook was only 15 when he joined the group and has been working nonstop since then. Two weeks ago he and the rest of the band left on their first vacation in almost seven years. SEVEN YEARS! I can’t fathom that level of commitment. How do people go though life with that level of passion? Since it’s something I lack I find it fascinating, spellbinding. Doesn’t it exhaust him? Or does it do the opposite and energizes and exhilarates him? It makes me wonder how it must feel to excel at something, to KNOW you’re talented to feel that knowledge in your brain, in your vocal cords when you sing, in your muscles when you bend in a fluid and strong move, like water.
Surrounded by the other members who love him, praise him and admire him, winning awards, selling out stadiums, making millions and breaking records, how does a twenty-one-year-old guy manage to remain bashful and humble? I don’t think humility is something easy to fake. And he is humble, thankful and sometimes bashful. He is cocky and confident with the other members in the way a sibling rubs it in your face when they do something you can’t. But he is also so very loving and thoughtful. In a way we in the Western world are not used to seeing men treat each other. He can roast the others hardcore, in that almost cruel way men tease each other. But he also shows sweetness, care, tenderness. A puppy-baby brother love that is so nice to witness. I believe being that close to those tender emotions, being in touch with the feminine side of love is what allows him to remain humble. The estrogen winning the war over testosterone. That’s my theory.
Whatever the reason for his humility is, the fact remains he is humbled by his blessings and it shows in the efforts he makes to improve, grow and learn. It shows in every time he pushes too hard and injures himself, it shows in the way he sobs at the end of a concert, overwhelmed and touched beyond control by the love of his fans. Maybe because he has lived such a peculiar life, surrounded by men and women older than him and with a burden of responsibility most men his age don’t have to deal that early, he shows a work ethic and love for his craft beyond his years. And yet can laugh like a loon, tease his brothers, be insanely competitive and adorably cute when interacting with his fans. The most endearing aspect of that is his insistence that he is no longer a boy, a reluctance to be treated like a baby and a stubborn need to be the “sexy” one in the group. Something that sends fans young and old in a frenzy of risen blood pressure. It’s fun to see him on his Vlive broadcasts, drinking wine, making moments ripe for meme harvesting, getting tipsy, flirting with the fans via the camera, talking about his plans, his studies, wishes for a bigger brain, his struggles, all in a stream of consciousness that manages, somehow to be both wise and sweetly naive.
So, we come full circle, all these reasons are why Jungkook is my bias wrecker. Because at twenty-one he is one of the few men in the world I admire. Because at mere twenty-one he shows more integrity, passion, talent, kindness and commitment than men all over the world who are twice, thrice, five times his age. Because I am a thirty-six-year-old woman disappointed, disenchanted with the world and humanity and when I look at Kookie and all he has accomplished and watch him speak and laugh and dance, all I see it’s…possibilities. Not only what he can become in the future but the magic of possibilities for everyone else That twenty-one-year-old makes me believe in the magic of perseverance, hard-work and unrelenting faith that all we want is waiting around the corner. If there’s a twenty-one-year-old who is good at everything then we all can be good at something, we can all grow, and work hard, learn, evolve and be passionate, be the better versions of ourselves…and just think, just imagine what we can all accomplish, if we were all a bit more like Jungkook.