Today's Kpop history will be focused around the following question:
For how long do Kpop stars live together in their dorms?
Most Army probably know that BTS live in a dorm and have lived together in dorms since pre debut.
They continue to live in dorms to this day too, but will they continue to do so in the future too?
I'll attempt to answer these questions by exploring some Kpop history and letting you know what other idols have done, and why, and taking a look at how BTS compares.
Moving into the dorm
Most idol groups live in dorms, at least in their early years, and during their trainee days.
In fact, I can't name a single group that haven't lived together at least for a short while either pre-debut or at debut.
There are many reasons for this but some of the most obvious ones include:
1. Some trainees and members don't have family living in Seoul but they need to be in Seoul in order to train to be an idol and in order to promote after debut.
In BTS, for example, everyone except from RM and Jin come from hometowns outside of Seoul and wouldn't be able to live at home while training or promoting.
2. Most trainees and idols are too young at the beginning of their career to secure housing for themselves; too young to sign papers for a lease, so the company does this for them by putting them into dorms.
3. Most trainees and young idols don't have money to pay for housing even if they wanted to do so.
They are in debt to their company who has invested a lot of money in training them, and they rely on the company for simple things like housing, food and transportation.
4. Especially during promotions, the idols get picked up in the morning and driven to their hair and make-up shops and to their schedules. It's a lot more convenient for the company (who pays for this) if they can all be picked up from the same location.
5. Idols living in dorms are easier to manage and managers will sometimes live with them too. This way there is never any doubt about where they are, and if they're eating the right things.
6. Practices and rehearsals are easier when the idols live together and especially early after debut idols spend days and nights at their company just practicing, which doesn't leave a lot of time to spend at home anyways.
7. Living together reinforces teamwork.
Although living together can make teamwork, it can also break teamwork, which is one of many reasons why some groups decide to move in on their own after a while.
Groups stopping their dorm life
Some idols choose to live on their own when they can because they lack a private space, since in the dorm they will share rooms and won't have real time just be on their own.
For others, to move out on their own presents a new challenge, like moving away from home for the first time, and not just be dragged along by parents and other members.
Whatever the reasons, if idols move out of their dorms, then they need to pay for their own housing, so only idols who make enough money to pay for themselves, hence only idols who have paid back their company debt, even have the option of moving out of their dorm.
Let's look at an example.
Big Bang, like almost every other Kpop group, started their career by living together in a small apartment. They quickly shot to fame and made money, and four years after their debut, in 2011, they began to move out and live independently.
Even so, a few of the members continued to live together. Daesung and Taeyang lived together, and a year later they moved in with Seungri to keep "watch over him" and keep him out of trouble.
By 2014, Seungri and Taeyang still lived in the same building.
Beast (now called Highlight) also began to move out of their dorms after they succeeded, and could afford it.
However, during promotion times they would still gather back in a dorm.
Staying in dorms during promotion times is a standard practice as it makes it easier for the company to manage the idols when they have packed schedules. Besides, dorms tend to be conveniently located so idols don't have as long a road in the morning to their make-up and hair artists.
Hence many idols still have dorms, even if no one lives there outside of promotion times anymore.
Sometimes members whose families are not from Seoul will also continue to stay in the dorm as they can't move back to their hometowns even during non promotion times, as their company would be too far away.
Continuing dorm life
Some choose to go beyond this and continue to live together, even after their company agrees to allow them to live on their own.
In 2015, Girl's Day said that they moved out of the dorm that their company provided them with, in order to move into an apartment - together.
Their company had offered them to move out of their dorm, but two of the members stayed behind, worried about living alone.
Sojin's and Yura's families both lived far from Seoul and the girls worried that life would be too lonely if they lived alone so they refused to leave the dorm - until they decided to buy an apartment and move in together, all but Minah who lived independently with her sister.
In 2016, they confirmed that they were still living together and joked about now it was time to live on their own, but that living apart would not weaken their bond.
Another prime example of continuously living together is Super Junior. Several of the members have lived together in their dorm(s) for as long as ten years, only leaving when the members each began to head off for their two year mandatory military service.
But ten years is already a long time (even if it was only some of the members) and few groups come close to having lived together for that long.
Another example is A Pink who, six years after their debut, still live together.
But since they're a group of six members, they have divided themselves up into two apartments on two floors, one above the other. They go comfortably up and down between the dorms to spend time together and to eat together.
Although they have been offered to live on their own, A Pink stated that they felt a shift in their energy as a group when they hadn't been together for a while.
So, even if they now have each their own rooms, they decided to continue to live together for the sake of the group.
I imagine that BTS might make a choice similar to that of A Pink, when the day comes.
Lately BTS are gaining both fame and money. They've already moved dorms twice. With their rising popularity they certainly have the means to move out of their dorm and live on their own instead, if they so desire.
But will they?
Jungkook has expressed his willingness and hope for them to continue living together. On Celebrity Romance, he spoke to Shinhwa member Minwoo about his willingness to continue to live with the members.
Naturally, such hopes and ideas may also shift and change as the members continue to grow and start to feel like they need their own personal spaces.
So let's look at it a bit more specifically.
The first thing to consider is that, as we have seen above, Kpop groups still mostly have dorms that they use together during the times when they promote.
As Army, we're very spoiled, and BTS are almost constantly promoting. Either touring, promoting a new album, or making the final arrangements for their next album.
With comebacks twice a year and concerts, BTS don't have many weeks a year when they aren't promoting.
This reason alone highly encourages dorm life.
However, if it's just for the conveniency of having to live close for the sake of promotions and transportation, they could get their own apartments in the same neighbourhood or in the same building.
But I think that BTS, like A Pink, see the value of living together as it brings them together and means that they know each other inside out.
For that reason, it seems a lot more likely that they will try to stay in dorms, and continue to live together, like A Pink. Perhaps also splitting up into two apartments so they can get that extra privacy.
EDIT: Since the original writing of this blog, their newest dorm has been revealed through their Anniversary Festa and also through their Mnet Comeback show with DNA.
This footage as well as their own recent comments on their dorms confirm that they have moved into a bigger place where they mostly have their own rooms, or rooms that are big enough that they can have privacy even with a roommate. They have even hinted at their dorm being on two floors.
So they seem to follow in A Pink's footsteps.
Most of the BTS members also have family living far away. Except for RM and Jin, the others aren't in the capital region, so like Girl's Day, those members might be reluctant to move out of dorms and live completely on their own as there won't be any family nearby and it might get lonely without each other.
BTS is a team that solve their problems together. They have often talked about how the members sit down together and talk and solve their problems and how decisions are risen together. They are a group that take big decisions together, as a team, and take those decisions for the sake of the team.
And above all else, let's not forget the importance that BTS put on teamwork.
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