Date of Award

January 2022

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


School of Public Health

First Advisor

Trace Kershaw

Second Advisor

Grace Kao


The Korean musical group BTS (full name Bangtan Seoyeondan/방탄소년단) is one of the world’s most commercially and artistically successful entertainment acts. BTS is primarily known for their domination of both Western and Korean musical markets, impressive digital media presence, major role in supporting the South Korean economy, and highly mobilized 400,000 member fandom known as ARMY. BTS and their parent company HYBE’s artistic creation and marketing model has long focused on creating “Music and Artists for Healing,” or using music and various forms of primarily digital content to connect with and improve health outcomes for fans. In response, ARMY have developed significant grassroots public health organizing to improve health of other fans and general populations. Both BTS and ARMY’s intervention work regularly reaches global audiences of millions through primarily digital media delivery mechanisms.This interdisciplinary, mixed methods study uses qualitative analysis of BTS’ digital content (n = 478) and an introductory exploration of ARMY public health organizations to demonstrate that BTS’ music, HYBE’s digital content production and dissemination strategies, and ARMY’s community grassroots organizing produced one of the largest-reaching public health interventions in response to the early COVID-19 pandemic (March 2020- December 2021). Major intervention strategies included mitigating negative mental health outcomes, distributing health information, modeling safe behaviors, and engaging in both mutual aid and anti-racist health equity work. This exploratory research illuminates new directions in effective, novel public health intervention and education practices and posits that critical, nuanced study of BTS and ARMY’s impact on public health may hold important keys to re-imagining digitally delivered health interventions and their subsequent economic profitability.


This is an Open Access Thesis.

Open Access

This Article is Open Access