You would think it was Christmas morning by the way Jenni squealed in delight when her Pen Pal package came in. It started with a two arm hug of the parcel and ended with two short hops of glee. There was no time for scissors. She tore open the Pen Pal package and the first item that slid out was a card labeled, “To: Jimin’s Wife”.

She went bonkers.

That was the beginning of Jenni’s exciting journey and discovery of gifts with a handwritten letter about BTS from her fellow ARMY member.

It wasn’t a surprise to find out later that this is one of many millions of people who write pen pal letters or send Pen Pal packages themed with BTS or another well-known k-pop band. It’s a phenomenon that’s spreading around the world using real connections and fandom. While social media has left a void for meaningful conversations, people are rediscovering the true gift of friendships rather than followers.

Who is BTS?

How BTS became popular is an amazing story of its own. BTS, first known as the Bangtan Boys, took years in the making. It began back in 2010 when a small startup at the time called BigHit Entertainment signed the first member of the group, RM (Kim Namjoon). From there, Jin (Kim Seokjin), Suga (Min Yoongi), J-hope(Jung Hoseok), Jimin (Park Jimin), V (Kim Taehyung) and Jungkook (Jeon Jungkook) were signed onto the band. Each member had a different quality and skill that appealed to different people and demographics. By 2013, they had finally came out with their debut song, “2 Cool 4 Skool” and it took another 5 years of hard work, creative growth and music to get to where they are today.

How BTS became so successful comes from their authenticity. They write and produce most of their own songs. But most importantly, they address social and generational issues in Korea and it resonates with the growing world audience. The music is catchy but it also speaks on issues like anxiety, depression, materialism and social disconnect. For so long, there was millions of people who felt like they didn’t have a voice or anyone to relate to them. That’s where BTS became their global ambassador.

BTS and the A.R.M.Y

Most bands or musicians unapologetically use social media as a typical marketing channel. It’s a one-way conversation that benefits the brand and not the fans. But instead of going this route, BTS chose to create a real connection with people by recording intimate video diaries, fan Q&A  sessions and backstage talks. They were able to create a direct channel to have a conversation. Instead of talking AT your fans, you were talking with them. What resulted from this authentic experience is the creation of the BTS A.R.M.Y. (Adorable Representative M.C for Youth). Being part of the ARMY was like being a part of BTS. This brought fandom to a whole new level with fans translating the band’s show appearances in many different languages, making video compilations and writing pen pal letters to other ARMY members or potential new fans.

BTS and Pen Pals

The concept of Pen Pals and BTS both share the same values in being global ambassadors. Social media has forgotten one of the basic things that makes us human: Having an authentic connection. Just like BTS, Pen Pals want a direct connection to meet new people and have an organic experience that’s tangible.  That’s why so many people have started to send a letter or mail a package to their Pen Pals themed with BTS gifts. It’s the perfect storm of shared ideals where making new friends becomes rewarding.

The Future of Pen Pals and BTS

In an increasingly divided world, BTS manages to speak to millions of people and bring them together through their music. Pen Pals is doing the same by providing an experience of unity and kinship in a mobile app. People deserve a safe, fun environment where fans can have real conversations and make new friends. In the same way BTS connects with their fans, Pen Pals wants others to feel like someone supports them as a positive force from anywhere in the world.