Band members make a surprise announcement during dinner to mark the group’s founding in 2013.
BTS have said they are taking an indefinite break from the K-pop supergroup to focus on their solo careers.
The group, credited with generating billions of dollars for the South Korean economy, dropped the bombshell during their annual “FESTA” dinner, part of a celebration that marks the group’s founding and was streamed online.
“We’re going into a hiatus now,” said Suga, 29, some 20 minutes into the clip, which was posted to the group’s official YouTube channel.
The Grammy-nominated group’s seven members were speaking to each other in Korean, and the video included English subtitles.
A representative for the band disputed the word ‘hiatus’ in a later statement.
“To be clear, they are not on hiatus but will take time to explore some solo projects at this time and remain active in various different formats,” the statement said.
Jimin, 26, said the members were “slowly trying to figure things out” and that “we’re starting to think about what kind of artists we each want to be remembered by our fans”.
“I think that’s why we’re going through a rough patch right now, we’re trying to find our identity and that’s an exhausting and long process.”
By the end of the dinner several members of the group behind “Dynamite” and “Butter” grew tearful as they voiced gratitude for their fans, collectively known as the “ARMY.”
J-Hope, 28, said the group “should spend some time apart to learn how to be one again”.
“I hope you don’t see this is a negative thing,” the artist implored fans. “And see that it’s a healthy plan.”
The news caused anxiety among fans, but Suga later reassured that BTS was not “disbanding – we’re just living apart for a while”.
BTS has said they were going on short breaks before, first in 2019 and later in December 2021.
The news comes just days after the group released Proof, an anthology album that included a new single, Yet To Come (The Most Beautiful Moment).
J-Hope said in the clip that time apart could help BTS “become a stronger group,” and that time was “important… for BTS’s second chapter.”
“I hope all our members stay healthy while they spend time on our own,” added the singer who is slated to headline Chicago’s Lollapalooza on his own in late July.
BTS made its debut in 2013 and was the first Asian band to win artist of the year at the American Music Awards. The group has twice been nominated for a Grammy.
The band recently made headlines for visiting the White House to deliver a message to President Joe Biden on the fight against anti-Asian racism.
The White House praised the band as “youth ambassadors who spread a message of hope and positivity across the world”.