3rd BTS Global Interdisciplinary Conference underway at HUFS
The 3rd BTS Global Interdisciplinary Conference, gathering the boy band’s fans and expert speakers from 25 countries, kicked off at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies (HUFS) in eastern Seoul on Thursday.
The event marks its third year since it started at London’s Kingston University in 2020 and had its second conference last year at California State University Northridge.
A total of 167 speakers will give 86 presentations online and offline on various topics pertaining to the boy band, from disability inclusion to environmental protection, which are values that BTS has been championing. A total of 350 people, many of them members of BTS’s fandom ARMY, are expected to attend the conference which runs until Saturday.
HUFS’ President Park Jeong-woon opened the event with a welcoming speech. President Park says BTS is more than just a successful pop musician, but an academic subject.
“The band is a cultural phenomenon worthy of in-depth critical analysis,” he said. “I hope this conference can be a venue for critical discussion. HUFS hopes to foster an academic environment where the K-culture phenomenon can be studied, researched and discussed in depth.”
Lee Ji-young, a professor of philosophy and currently a research professor at HUFS’ Semiosis Research Center, pointed out the significance of BTS in the global cultural context during her keynote speech.
“BTS was faced with discrimination due to the fact that they are Asian and prejudice that only little girls like them,” she said. “That kind of dismissal still persists today, so imagine how it would’ve been years ago before BTS was as big as they are now. I believe ARMY has been causing a crack in the global society which centers around English-speaking white males over the years. Based on their fanhood, they have been demonstrating solidarity and cosmopolitanism.”
The first day’s presenters followed, one of them being President An Jung-sun of the Korean Deaf Child Education Research Institute. Thanks to BTS leader RM’s donations to schools for hearing-impaired students as well as their inclusion of international sign language in the band’s 2021 hit “Permission to Dance,” An shared that many hearing-impaired fans such as herself felt represented and became convinced that music is something everyone can enjoy.
An also commented on the power of ARMY, as the fandom has been actively voicing its demands for sign language interpreters to be present at BTS’s concerts, which the boy band’s agency BigHit Agency complied with.
The event takes place on HUFS’ campus until Saturday and also accepts walk-ins for those who want to spectate. Simultaneous interpretation in English and Korean, as well as sign language interpretation, is available.
BY HALEY YANG [email@example.com]