How the mobile game BTS World escalates K-pop’s parasocial relationships

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Photo courtesy JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images

“The information contained in this game has no intended connection to actual individuals, groups, areas, incidents, or ideas,” reads the splash screen for mobile game BTS World, right underneath the face of one of the seven members of K-pop band Bangtan Sonyeondan. It’s not just a cognitive dissonance that the game seems unwilling to address, but the one it’s founded on.

The main story sees the protagonist whisked back from 2019 to 2012, before the band debuted or even met. She (and the English translation does only use she / her; a gendering that the original Korean likely doesn’t need to contend with as a language that rarely uses pronouns) immediately leaps into forming the group that she loves, bringing them together and managing…

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