South Korean boy band BTS will take a break to "recharge and refresh as musicians and creators," their manager announced on Monday.
BTS' manager Big Hit Entertainment said in a statement that the record-breaking K-pop band would "enjoy their daily lives as normal 20-something young men, albeit briefly," for the first time since they entered the music scene in 2013.
BTS — short for Bangtan Sonyeondan, literally "Bulletproof Boy Scouts" — have not said how long their break will be. But the group have a concert controversially scheduled for early October in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
"If you run into BTS at an unexpected place, we ask for the fans' consideration to allow the members to enjoy their private time," Big Hit requested in the statement. The seven-man band, all in their 20s, often wear lipstick and earrings in their videos and have built an appeal with fans comfortable with gender fluidity.
BTS' popularity has grown to record numbers across the world — they were the first K-pop group to top the music charts in the US and UK. They have cultivated an immense social media following, with a brand that includes posting selfies and videos onto Twitter and Instagram daily to their fans, whom they have called their ARMY.
The K-pop circuit has a notorious reputation for intense competition and heavy work schedules, including a grueling dance training program.
Fans lend support
Some 21.3 million Twitter fans wished them well on their break, with one writing: "Thank you for traveling the world to make millions of people happy and love themselves, now please rest well and stay healthy."
BTS has raked in huge profits for the Big Hit Entertainment Group, which plans to release dolls of the band members in collaboration with the company Mattel, which produces the well-known Barbie doll.
The K-pop group, all in their 20s, broke records across the board this year. Their single "Boy With Luv" was the first video to reach 100 million views on YouTube after just two days in April.
But their upcoming concert in Saudi Arabia has been shrouded in controversy in view of that country's human rights record. Singer Nicki Minaj dropped her concert planned for July in the country over human rights abuses.