BTS Monument: Beyond The Star Review – The First Two Episodes

Rising to stardom is never a linear road
By: Iffah Salleh
December 25, 2023

The sensational BTS is gracing your screens once again with their latest documentary. As the entire band diligently fulfils their mandatory military service, they haven’t forgotten their ardent fans who patiently await their return. 

To bridge the gap during these two years of absence, they’ve gifted us with ‘BTS Monuments: Beyond The Stars.’ Oh, and did we mention that Jungkook sweetened the deal with another version of ‘Standing Next To You‘ featuring Usher? Now, let’s dry those well-wishing tears and delve into the first two episodes of this captivating docuseries.

BTS Monument: Beyond The Stars

Monuments feels like a BTS crash course for those unfamiliar with the group, but also allows more experienced fans, or ARMY, a sweet space to reminisce on the group’s rise. 

Across eight parts, “BTS Monuments: Beyond The Stars” offers an intimate look into their collective journey – from the inception of BTS to their global superstardom, solo pursuits, and contemplations on the possibility of calling it quits. 

It’s a candid exploration, reminding us that, despite their colossal fame, at the core, they are just individuals. And for those not familiar with the term, ARMY is what the beloved fan club is called.  Let’s embark on this documentary journey together and unravel the layers of BTS beyond the glitz and glamour.

The First Two Episodes

The initial episode commences with a montage, depicting the members engrossed in an art exhibit while RM asserts, “We still believe in the power of art and that it can change the world.”

This introduction establishes the overarching theme for the episode, capturing the essence of the stars as they embark on their careers, with this profound message serving as the heart of their musical journey.

The Formation of The Band

Let’s go back to where it all began. In the first episode, we get the lowdown from Si-Hyuk Bang, the big boss at HYBE, about how he put together the band and picked its members.

It kicked off with RM. Bang heard a demo that convinced him RM had to debut. 

Through the series, we understand that RM is going to be the main guy in a hip-hop group, but plans change along the way. Suga jokes that there were lots of changes before they became the BTS we know now.

Suga got picked for his soft demeanour, J-Hope for being super hard working at dancing, and Jin for being so good-looking that he could build a fan following. Jung Kook wasn’t very sure of himself, but Bang believed in his potential. The same goes for V. 

However, when it came to Jimin, Bang wasn’t so sure. “He seemed incomplete,” Bang confesses. Luckily, the team convinced him to include Jimin (can we imagine BTS without Jimin? Just mad!).

The docuseries shows us that HYBE was a small company when BTS was formed. They faced tough competition early on from big players like JYP, SM, and YG, but guess what? They eventually came out on top of the food chain.

The Bond of Brotherhood & ARMY

In this docuseries, BTS shows a chapter of unwavering loyalty from their fans, ARMY. It rewinds back to the early days when BTS reflected on the moments when they diligently crafted their fanbase. The members reminisce about a time when they personally messaged fans and met them in public.

Jin, expressing gratitude in his voice, recalls, “We had fans who liked us even when we weren’t popular. It wasn’t about how happy I was about my work; some people liked us for doing it so that alone was really nice.” 

A particularly heartwarming scene unfolds in 2013 during a special birthday celebration. Tears and laughter mingle as the members share sweet speeches, expressing their deep connection not only to each other but also to their fans. 

Overwhelmed with emotion, Jin admits, “To be honest, I didn’t think this was fun in the past. The days I spent anxious and lost have passed.”

The foundation of BTS is not only built on musical harmony but also a brotherhood that transcends the stage. The first two episodes capture endearing moments as the members evolve into a tight-knit family. 

In a delightful 2013 scene, they playfully tease Jung Kook as he enters high school in a uniform. RM, with a fond smile, remarks, “He looks so cute just standing there.” J-Hope, in a playful voice, chimes in, “Jung Kook, you’re so adorable!”

Another touching moment reveals J-Hope in tears as his bandmates surprise him with a cake. Jimin reassures him, saying, “Cry as much as you want. You can cry in my arms.” 

Reflecting on these precious moments, Jimin expresses gratitude, “Those moments truly are the most precious and meaningful part of all of this. I think I reminisce about those moments more these days. We’ve become more tight-knit because of all of that. I’m so thankful for it all.” 

As you start your journey with this series, you’ll realise it’s a narrative woven with threads of camaraderie, resilience, and heartfelt connections.

Hitting Rock Bottom and Rise Above

“We were about to die,” recalls one member, emphasising the profound challenges they faced.

We have all seen how big this group had become, snatching awards left and right but like most anyone that started from the very beginning, BTS’ journey too kicked off on a rocky note, and the docuseries vividly captures a pivotal moment during the creation of “Danger” in 2014, marking their first visit to Los Angeles. 

J-Hope reflects on that challenging period: “That was when we questioned our mindset of just continuously pushing forward.” Jung Kook echoes the sentiment, admitting, “I felt so small as I listened and made those comparisons.”

Initially, “Danger” didn’t claim the top spot on the Gaon Weibo chart (music chart in Korea), intensifying the group’s struggle. Financial issues at HYBE added to the pressure, and Jin admits, “It felt like it was the end for us.” 

The frustration of seeing their music not immediately succeed and the onset of burnout led to internal conflicts, causing the members to question the direction of their musical style.

Until 2015, when the tide turned with the release of ‘The Most Beautiful Moment in Life’, a turning point that laid bare the sadness and melancholy the group was grappling with at the time. 

Soon, they found themselves accepting the trophy for Number One on the Gaon Weibo chart. Reflecting on this triumph, RM shares, “After winning first place, I gained a lot of confidence. I was able to get stronger after that.”

Contemplating the Breaking Point and Crossroads

In a scene towards the end of episode two, resembling an intervention, Bang shares his perspective, saying, “It’s natural to make bigger wishes since everything is going well, but I think our goal next year should be to find ways to be happy. It’s something no other superstar has done… I’m really worried that you’ll become unhappy if you continue to live like this.”

As the second episode draws to a close, a pivotal conversation unfolds as Bang sits down with the boys. Focusing on their happiness to prevent burnout and dissatisfaction despite being at the pinnacle of their success.

This juncture coincided with discussions about contract renewal with HYBE, leading some members to entertain thoughts of leaving the group altogether. Jin reveals there were ‘differing opinions’ among the members about whether to continue, with some seriously considering quitting.

As the pressure mounted, Suga recalls, “We shed a lot of tears at that time.” The toll of non stop touring and feeling like they were “walking without a destination” led to exhaustion over the years. 

Suga vividly describes the experience as cramming ‘20 years of experience’ into just six. He draws a poignant analogy, likening it to the moment before a breakup when someone has to decide to leave, but “no one wants to be the bad guy.”

“We seriously considered quitting,” Suga adds, laying bare the internal struggles. The fame they attained seemed like a weight too heavy to bear, and the contemplation of stepping away from it all was a genuine consideration.

Where to watch?

We won’t talk all the way and give you all the spoilers, all we can say is you should watch this series on Disney+ Hotstar, now!

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