True to his word that he gave on the 10th anniversary of his debut, the very first thing Jin did upon being discharged from the military was hop on weverse LIVE to talk with ARMY. He then greeted them in person the very next day at BTS FESTA, the event celebrating 11 years since the group’s debut. Jin pushed back any and all post-service plans except for those involving ARMY, working day and night for eight days straight minus a single day off to rest up. Still, he smiled sincerely as he made it clear that there was nothing burdensome about working those long hours to show his fans how much they mean to him. “But it’s just something I do, you know? That’s what being a superstar is all about.”

Congratulations on finishing your military service!
Jin: It feels like I’m just on leave and have to get back to base. It still doesn’t feel like I’m really out yet. It’s quite disorienting, actually. I asked my friends and they said it’ll go away after a month or two, or maybe three. They said, “Just watch—you’ll say ‘I wanna go home’ out of habit, even once you’re out.” And I really do! (laughs)

In that case, have you been sticking to the same routine you had while you were in the army?
Jin: I still feel sleepy around 10 or 11 at night, but I have to get back on my work schedule, so sometimes I go to bed late, or wake up at five in the morning. It seems like I’m readjusting pretty quickly. It’s been around eight days since I got out and I’ve been working every day except one.

Hasn’t that been tough?
Jin: But it’s just something I do, you know? Because I’m a superstar. (laughs)

Well, Mr. Superstar, the BTS song “Dynamite” played you off as you were discharged, right? And I saw RM playing the saxophone next to you. (laughs)
Jin: I didn’t even realize he was playing next to me, and I only found out the song being played was “Dynamite” when I saw the video later. I was an assistant drill sergeant, so I was used to hearing the saxophone in recordings of the army band all the time, like at discharge and enlistment ceremonies. So when I heard music playing, I just assumed it was the same discharge music as always. I was crying, and I had to salute here and there because there were reporters, and I was just so overwhelmed that I had no idea. Then I turned to look and saw Namjoon and was like, “Huh?” It was the typical Namjoon, but he was wearing something super weird! (laughs) It was like, “What? Anyway, thanks for coming. Alright, Namjoon, let’s go, let’s go.”

You were the only soldier in the group when you first enlisted, but now you’re the only civilian.
Jin: Yes, but the guys kept telling me they were so jealous, and the people from the management team who are always around told me they’d never seen such a genuine look of envy in their eyes. They all had that look on their face, they said. So I didn’t brag about it or anything, I just teased them a lot. It was too good seeing them get all worked up about it. I kept it up for around 30 minutes. (laughs)

White jacket and pants by AMIRI, shoes by Gucci.

You hugged the newer recruits the day you were discharged and told them, “We had a good run.” I think it’s a testament to how committed you were throughout your military service. And you must have been a great senior soldier because apparently, one of the juniors was crying his eyes out.
Jin: It wasn’t just that one guy—people in our barracks below me, and below them, and below them were all crying. Our whole barracks was in tears. People don’t always cry, obviously, but they do when the good seniors leave. For me, it was less about being a good senior but more because I was popular. (laughs) We were all assistant drill sergeants, so there weren’t that many of us. It was just the 25 of us, and our barracks only ever had between six or eight people at a time. There was one guy who was only four years younger than me, and entered at the exact same time as Hobi, so that’s just four months after I did. We grew really close over the course of 10 months.

What was your secret to being so popular?
Jin: I spent my military pay and then some buying food for everybody. (laughs) A lot of them were just turning 19 and never even had a job before, but I’m a lot more financially stable, so I’d say, “You gotta eat well to stay healthy. Come on, I’ll treat you,” and pay for their food. I bought them so much fried chicken, jokbal, and pizza, that later on they got sick of them. I even took people from other barracks out to have barbecue. Sometimes the guys would joke around and say, “Sergeant Kim, did you do anything other than sleep today?” And then I’d say, “What barracks are you from? I was gonna buy you dinner tonight, but not anymore. You’re not coming with me!” Then they’d say, “Sorry, sir!” We just goofed around like that, and I’d buy them all dinner anyways. (laughs) That made people in my squad call me a god, not to brag. As soon as they saw me, they’d say, “Worship him!” (laughs)

They wrote you messages for your discharge, including one that said you bought food for them so often that they can’t even remember all the different menus you treated them to. It’s hard enough taking care of yourself when you’re in the army, so what motivated you to look after the other enlisted soldiers like that?
Jin: Those guys were always so good to me, so I kept a smile on my face all throughout my service and told them, “It’s okay, everybody makes mistakes. You haven’t done anything seriously wrong. Honestly, just because I joined the military six months earlier doesn’t make me any better. I’ve been in the entertainment industry for 10 years already, and there’s still tons I don’t know. I make mistakes—everybody does.” There was only one time I lost my temper.

What happened?
Jin: One soldier did something wrong but kept joking around and saying, “I’ll figure it out myself, sir,” and I told him, “It’s okay if you make mistakes. It’s not like I know everything. I make mistakes, too. But if a senior soldier tells you to do something, you have to at least pretend to listen. You can’t keep goofing around like that. I get it—everyone’s different. But you at least have to figure out why you made that mistake. I’ll tell you how to do it one more time, so don’t mess around anymore.”

You were so kind to your juniors! No wonder they called you a god. (laughs)
Jin: The other soldiers at my level were great too. By the time we were about halfway through our service, no one got reported in the anonymous tip box anymore, and both our officers and enlisted personnel ranked their level of satisfaction at around 98 or 99 percent. I heard it’s usually only 38 or 40%. Everyone was pretty jealous of our squad. They said we got along really well.

I bet everyone in the army was sad to see you go, not just the newer recruits. (laughs) You also earned the title of “elite soldier,” right?
Jin: It varies by camp, but at ours, we got a chance to practice using firearms every time new recruits came. So I got to practice shooting, and I was always doing exercises like sit-ups or pushups on my own, so I got progressively stronger. We had to run with the trainees, and the assistant drill sergeants can’t fall behind, so I forced myself to keep running until I got better at it. When I was working on getting that title, my senior soldiers all swarmed over to me and said, “Don’t eat dinner or your stomach will be flopping around and you won’t be able to run tomorrow.” So I said I’d only eat a little bit, and they said, “No. Or if you have to, limit yourself to a single spoonful.” Then, the next morning, they said, “Today’s the big day. Don’t drink any more water.” So I said, “Just one sip!” And they said, “Just one sip, then, and no more.” And then they said to me, “Here, this’ll make it so you can’t feel it when your legs start to hurt, and then you can run really well,” and then they absolutely covered me in icy hot spray.

It sounds like they really loved you there. That shows how good you were to all of them, too.
Jin: What can I say? I’m just adorable. (laughs)

You were loved by your peers in the army, and now that you’re out, you’re being loved by your fans, ARMY, who you recently met in person at BTS FESTA.
Jin: When you’re in the army, there’s a lot of restrictions in place, and none of the stuff you have is your own, which isn’t always easy. But once I was onstage, I had my fans in front of me, my own mic and in-ears, and everything about it felt just the way I remembered. It felt like I was home. Everyone imagines what it’d be like to be a superstar, hearing people cheer them on onstage. I already know what that feels like, and it’s something I can recover with time, but when I was in the army, I couldn’t feel it. So when I got back, it was like, This is it—heart racing, the nervous excitement, the roar of the crowd.

How did it feel to be back onstage, hearing those cheers again?
Jin: The fans might not want to hear this, but I tried really hard not to let the feeling sink in. I mean, it was the very next day after I got out of the army. I didn’t have much time to practice, and it’d been forever since I last sang. I thought I might cry if I started singing and got too worked up and started getting all emotional. I had to put on a good show for the fans, so I couldn’t let myself get choked up to the point I couldn't sing. So I purposely cranked up the volume on my in-ears to try and drown out the emotions, and closed my eyes for the first song. I actually did a cheongsimhwan (Korean traditional medicinal pill with calming effects) test run specifically for the sake of that performance. (laughs)

What’s a cheongsimhwan test run?
Jin: I knew my heart would be pounding once I got onstage, so I tried taking a cheongsimhwan when I was going back on base after taking some leave time. I wanted to see in advance whether taking it would dry out my throat or not, and how much it could stop my heart pounding. It ended up making my throat really dry, though, and I worried my voice might crack when I went to sing, so I quickly looked for something else to take and took that on the day instead. My heart was still pounding like crazy, though.

And yet, despite all that, you sang “Super Tuna” with the second verse for the first time. And that was with only one day to prepare.
Jin: The song was already ready to go, so I just kept listening to it for the second verse. But you can actually still tell how nervous I was. (laughs) Oh! And I’m hard at work on my new album. Fortunately, the guys all finished making their own albums before enlisting, and now Jimin’s is coming out. That made me think I better not wait too long to release mine after his is out, so I’m working to get it done fast. It’d be nice to go on some variety shows, too. And, since ARMY hasn’t seen my face in so long, I wanted to put it somewhere ARMY could see it nice and big, so I specifically took out ad space on the biggest billboards I could find.

You did all that and BTS FESTA the day after you were discharged, and it’s only been eight days?
Jin: That’s how I do it. You don’t stop breathing just because the air’s bad. (laughs) I figured, you gotta do what you gotta do, even if it’s not under the best circumstances.

You said BTS FESTA was one of those things you would never sit out on. You must’ve had to keep practicing when you had leave from the army, during break times when you were there, and even right after you were discharged. That must’ve been tough.
Jin: It was a lot of pressure, and yes, tough. It was hard, seeing as I wasn’t able to practice in the outside world with enough time to do it. I just did it out of love. (laughs)

That’s true love right there. (laughs) It reminds me of something you wrote in the letter marking the 10th anniversary of your debut: “Ten years is enough to move rivers and mountains, as the saying goes, but the love between BTS and ARMY never changes, and that’s just amazing.”
Jin: Even if ARMY were to leave us in the distant future, we could never leave ARMY. Like I said before, being with ARMY is like being home. They make us feel so secure. I want to tell them I’ll always try my best and ask them to please stay by our side for a long time. I also want to thank them for waiting for us.

How did you manage to keep pushing yourself to do your best every single day for 11 years straight?
Jin: Because BTS loves ARMY so much. It just makes sense that you’d do your best for the people you love, right? Think about how you feel when you really like somebody: You absolutely give it your all for them. And it’s the same in our case. Doesn’t that just make sense?

It should be, but that’s not always the case. Even if you love someone and try your best for them, other things can end up taking priority.
Jin: When I left the army, I postponed everything so I could meet the fans. I told my family and friends ahead of time, “I need to see ARMY, so I’d appreciate it if you didn’t ask about throwing any parties for my discharge until after this week.” People told me, “You just got out—you should take a break. Let’s meet up.” I got out on Wednesday and didn’t make one plan until after Sunday. All that other stuff could wait. Seeing my fans is my top priority—I have to show my gratitude before I do anything else, I think. No question about it. It’s always been that way, so now it’s what everybody’s come to expect. ARMY supports me, and they really make me happy. They’re incredibly important to me, so it just makes sense that I’d think to put my time with them first.

I find it remarkable you’ve continued to feel that way for 11 years straight.
Jin: When I think about how incredibly happy I am right now, and ask myself the reason for that—it’s ultimately because I’m in BTS. And the reason BTS exists is ultimately thanks to ARMY. I’ve always adored ARMY for that reason, and I love them more and more with each day, and I hope for them to be even happier, too. That’s why I try my hardest for them.

While it makes sense for you to express your love to ARMY, it’s less of a given that you would receive so much love back, which I guess is what makes you work as hard as you do.
Jin: People liking me, the other soldiers feeling good enough about me to warm up to me, getting free food when I go out to eat, people treating me well—it’s all because I’m a part of BTS. Or it could be because I’m handsome. (laughs)

What does happiness mean to you? You were once asked what comes at the end of this beautiful moment, and said you believed that one beautiful moment meant there would be more to come, but that, at the same time, you wished the current one would never end.
Jin: I decided I’m not going to think like that anymore. (laughs) Because, if there really is a most beautiful moment in life, then once it’s over, there won’t be anything beautiful that comes after it, you know? But in reality, it’s not like my life would suddenly plummet into some horrible, dark depths. And things are pretty good and beautiful even right now, so there seems to be little point in thinking about the future or the next beautiful moment. I might be a global star today, but even if I become a neighborhood star later, or even just a star in my own home, as long as I’m happy, that’s all that matters. Would that send me into despair? Would there never be another beautiful moment again? I realized there’s no need to think like that. If I just continue living my life like this, until I eventually do become a house-star, it would still be a beautiful moment as long as I’m happy. So I decided to view my life as one, long beautiful moment.

If the most beautiful moment in life isn’t a moment at all, but something that lasts forever, how are you feeling at this very moment?
Jin: As always, happy. (laughs)

ArticleOh Minji
InterviewOh Minji
Creative DirectorKim Minkyoung
CoordinatorOh Minji
Visual Creative Team Kim Gaeun, Kim Leehyun, Kim Minchae(BIGHIT MUSIC)
PhotographyYoon Songyi(@ARTHUBTEO) / Assist. Park Sungen, Baek Juwon, Shin Hyeoni
VideoJo Yunmi, Seo Yujeong
HairHansom / Assist. Taei
MakeupKim Dareum / Assist. Kim Sunmin
StylistKim Youngjin / Assist. Kim Yesong
Set DesignROH HAUS
Artist Protocal TeamKim Subin, An Dasol, Lee Seungbyeong, Lee Hyeonki, Jeing Daeseong, Jeong Taejin, Lee Jusang, Song Jaekeun
Copyright ⓒ Weverse Magazine. All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction and distribution prohibited.