Popularity of K-Pop Boy Band BTS is Topic of New Book by Yerin Kim ’18

To help understand the worldwide popularity of BTS, author Yerin Kim ’18 first had to understand their legions of fans.  

Yerin Kim (Photo courtesy of Yerin Kim)

After months of research that included late-night hours of combing through social media, Kim hopes her new book hits a high note with the supporters of the K-pop superstars. 

Though on hiatus right now, BTS has had six chart-topping Billboard albums and six number one hits since their formation in 2010. The boy band is massively popular, with the Guinness Book of World Records reporting they are the most streamed male group on Spotify, played 31.9 billion times.

Kim’s aptly named “I Love BTS” is a guided journal for fans to muse about their love and obsession for the South Korean pop group, covering everything from trivia questions to a scrapbook of collages. It goes on sale May 16.  

“The most important research came from really diving into the minds of fans,” she said. “I spent a lot of time on BTS fan Reddit threads and getting into the mind of what a BTS fan might be interested in, what they might want to write about, and what they would think about when it comes to BTS.” 

Becoming an author and a fan

This is quite a big stage for the first-time author.  

Kim said she never planned on writing a book about K-pop, until a representative from Adams Media, an imprint of publishing company Simon & Schuster, contacted her in May 2022 with the opportunity.

The cover of “I Love BTS.” (Image courtesy of Yerin Kim)

“I had never written a book before, but a novel was definitely something I wanted to pursue further down the line in my career,” said Kim, a native of Seoul, South Korea. “This isn’t a traditional book in the sense that it’s a memoir or a fiction novel. It’s a fan journal. So just everything was new to me, and it was a learning process.”

An editor at online media company PopSugar, Kim said she was interested in Korean entertainment but wasn’t necessarily a fan of BTS, who are also known as the Bangtan Boys. That changed after writing the book.  

“After doing all this research and getting into the minds of BTS fans all the time, I do think I can call myself a fan now because I became so immersed in the fandom,” said Kim, who did the bulk of the writing and research during a five-month process filled with lots of time working late hours and weekends. Research also included watching interviews on YouTube, music videos and performances. 

Newhouse’s impact 

Kim graduated from Newhouse in 2018 after majoring in magazine, news and digital journalism. She said she wouldn’t have had “the current career and opportunities I have without my Newhouse education and the connections that I developed while I was there.” 

Her journalism portfolio at Newhouse included serving as editor-in-chief at Zipped magazine, working at The Daily Orange and producing a podcast for her capstone project. The variety set her up for success in her career.  

“Attending Newhouse and just having access to those publications and classes really just taught me to write for different audiences and different mediums and it really just helped me develop a voice, which I’ve parlayed into this book,” she said. 

Understanding her audience   

The opportunities to write for various audiences helped her start the process of writing “I Love BTS.” The book’s target audience is students ages 11 to 18, “which is an audience that I didn’t have prior experience writing for, so I think that I was just really able to learn,” Kim said. 

“Knowing how to write for different audiences and types of people stems from my Newhouse education.” 

She’s excited as the book’s May 16 launch draws closer. “I hope to be able to reach the fans of BTS. When I was younger, [guided, interactive journals] were some of my favorite types of books to buy at the Scholastic book fair.” 

Kim doesn’t know if she’ll write another book, but realizes this journal has opened doors for her to write in the future. 

“It was an opportunity that I didn’t want to pass up,” she said.

Nico Horning is a first-year student in the broadcast and digital journalism program at the Newhouse School.