Disney+ Hotstar’s BTS Monuments: Beyond the Star isn’t just a documentary about the biggest K-pop band in the world. It’s a raw, intimate, and deeply human portrait of seven young men thrust into the blinding spotlight, navigating the treacherous terrain of fame, ambition, and brotherhood.
Recently, HallyuBeat had the opportunity to watch the first two episodes of the documentary. We get to see all seven members – RM, Jimin, J-Hope, Jin, Suga, V and Jungkook – tell their story in individual interviews, sharing intimate details about their struggles, fears and triumphs.
We also hear from HYBE founder Bang Si-Hyuk, as well as Kang Myeongseok, who wrote the book Beyond The Story: 10-Year Record of BTS, as they offer an outside view of how the boys’ reacted to their growing fame.
The story takes us back and forth in time, through some of the most pivotal moments in BTS’ history. Through previously unseen footage – including private videos and backstage recordings – we get a unique insight into what the members went through in their journey to worldwide success.
An intimate view of the ‘real’ BTS
Forget the meticulously crafted music videos and the perfectly choreographed dance routines. As a documentary, Monuments lets the audience see the reality of what made BTS, how the boys spent hours in the dance studio, training until they could barely walk.
The first episode (The Beginning) shows us how BTS was originally conceived as a hip-hop crew, before the decision was made to turn them into an idol group. We see the boys feeling thrilled over how well their debut was received, and their nerves over having to maintain that success.
We also get to see the beginnings of their unwavering bond as brothers; laughing, goofing around, and finding solace in each other’s presence. There is even footage of them celebrating each others’ birthdays and attending Jungkook’s high school graduation ceremony. This camaraderie, forged in the fires of shared dreams and relentless hard work, is the bedrock of their success.
The darker side of success
The documentary doesn’t shy away from the darker aspects of their journey either. We see the toll fame takes on their mental and physical health, as well as the constant scrutiny and criticism they face.
The second episode (Adolescence) shows how the group began to achieve great success both at home and overseas. However, as the awards and accolades pile up, it becomes clear that the boys are feeling burnt out. And we also learn that it was at this point that they felt close to quitting the industry entirely.
We see RM, the stoic leader, grappling with self-doubt and the pressure to constantly evolve. And see the raw emotions of the other members as they struggle with the immense responsibility thrust upon their youthful shoulders.
The power of ARMYs
Through it all, it becomes clear just how important their fans, the ARMYs are to them. We see the boys discuss how this symbiotic relationship is both rewarding, and also filled with pressure.
The boys convey their emotions through their music, and this includes how they communicate with their fans. One of the key moments in the documentary revolves around the creation of the track 2! 3! (Still Wishing There Will Be Better Days). The song is dedicated to their fans, and we get to see how emotional they are when talking about it, as well as performing it onstage.
Part of the reason they found it hard to quit was because they did not want to disappoint their fans. They talked about the difficulty of being the ones to ‘make the first move’. How did they ultimately resolve this issue? Tune in to the following episodes to find out.
More than a documentary
Ultimately, Monuments is more than just a documentary for BTS fans. It’s a testament to the power of dreams, and the enduring human spirit in the face of adversity.
It’s also a reminder that even the brightest stars are forged in the darkness, and that the journey is often just as important as the destination.
So, put down your lightsticks, step away from the fancams, and open your hearts to the real BTS. Monuments: Beyond the Star is currently airing on Disney+ Hotstar.