The VICE Guide to Right Now

BTS Fans are Raising Money to Keep Underprivileged Indian Kids in School

They reached their initial goal of $5,000 within 24 hours.
bts ARMYfundraising
BTS photo courtesy of AFP

You can’t talk about fandom today and not mention ARMY, the supporters behind boy band BTS, and arguably the biggest K-pop fan group in the world right now.

These fans—who call themselves Adorable Representative Master of Ceremonies for Youth, abbreviated to A.R.M.Y.—have not just broken streaming records for the band but also taken up social and political causes, in line with the South Korean band’s advocacies. From matching the band’s $1 million donation to the Black Lives Matter movement to donating thousands of dollars for people affected by the pandemic, the ARMYs have evolved to become the new crowdfunding giants.


Now, One in an ARMY—the collective that coordinates and tracks ARMY-driven charity support—is raising money to help keep underprivileged Indian kids in school.

The fundraiser is in association with Barefoot College, a women-centric organisation in India that runs digital night schools in rural and remote areas to make education more accessible to kids who might not be able to attend day schools. This is being done in honour of the birthday of the leader of the boy band, Kim Nam-joon. 

It is a common tradition in K-pop fandoms to donate or raise funds for charities for their K-pop idol’s birthdays. “We pick a campaign depending on what time of the year it is,” says Louise, a One in an ARMY representative. “The one we are running right now is a birthday fundraiser—for these, we always ask the fandom what kind of a fundraiser they’d prefer for each member. For Kim Nam-joon, the ARMYs voted for education, along with organisations doing COVID-19.-related work” Nam-joon, who goes by the stage name RM, is known to be an avid reader by fans. His lyricisms are widely admired in the fandom and during his live streams, he has often talked about his love for books—one of the reasons why ARMYs have picked this project.

“We have a research team who looks up organisations who work in the field we decide to raise funds in,” adds Louise. “We never look up projects specific to a country; we just go through organisations and pick the ones that align with our objectives for the fundraisers the best. Usually, people who want to make a change are attracted to BTS and what they stand for.”

The goal of this crowdfunding initiative initially was to raise $5,000—something that was achieved within 24 hours. Now, this has been pushed to $10,000. At the time of writing this, the group had managed to raise around $8,900, with over 500 donors helping the cause. 

India has also been significant for the success of the Korean boy band’s latest single “Dynamite—which is #1 on the Billboard #100 charts for the second week in a row. This music video broke all records with 101.1 million YouTube views in 24 hours, and India contributed the third-highest number of views, after Indonesia and the U.S.A.

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