The Problematic Comparison of Stray Kids to BTS



The K pop Group Stray Kids.

Madolynn Morgan, Staff Writer

Korean pop idols, also known as K-Pop idols have in recent years grown in popularity with groups like Stray Kids and BTS topping Billboards top 100 but the discussion in most recent years has been how problematic comparing Stray Kids a JYP boy group to BTS who are a Bighit boy group and how this fan culture needs to stop. Two that we’ve often seen compared are BTS and Stray Kids both have largely devoted fan bases called the Stay and Army. Stray Kids fan base name is Stay, according to group member Felix, “The reason why it is ‘Stay’, from Stray kids we take out the r from stray, and it becomes stay. This is the reason why a stay is here with us.” The BTS fan base, known as the Army, is thought to have started with the meaning behind the name BTS.  In Korean, the phrase Bangtan Sonyeodan or “bulletproof boy scouts” in English, the fans are the army, and the boys are their armor blocking out negative narratives.

But as Stray Kids has grown we’ve often seen a problematic side of K-Pop a constant comparison of the 2 groups, with both groups being compared to each other, no matter how alike or different they are. There are some similarities, such as how BTS and Stray Kids are both from major entertainment companies, or that their official Instagram followings are in the millions. But they are not the same, for instance, world popularity or their backgrounds. We also asked Nayely, a fan of both groups, about their differences, and she said, “Their music styles, performances, and how different their members are”.

But many fans argue BTS did pave the way for K-Pop groups to expand their fan bases further out of Korea. As sad as it is, the K-Pop industry is a toxic environment, with unrealistic polished personas. Comparing different groups is detrimental to both new groups and old groups. Their fans are hurt as well, as they tear down other groups to support their own favorite artists. The media pushes these comparisons with headlines like, “Stray Kids: The next BTS or just another boy band?” by Korea JeonAnf Daily. These articles could easily hurt BTS or Stray Kids’ reputation to a reader.

Even more problematic media is made by devoted fans, who have been seen openly slandering and making fun of each group’s members. As for fans like Nayely, who stan both groups, they’re caught in the crossfire. When asked if the fan culture and media promotes fighting, she responded, “Yes, because it is creating new haters promoting negative group environments among fan bases. It could get worse with the expansion of international fans and social media”.