Go Away With … Rap Monster (of BTS)

By Jae-Ha Kim
Tribune Content Agency
May 30, 2017

Fresh off a win at the Billboard Music Awards, the K-Pop band BTS (Bangtan Boys) is continuing its sold-out world tour, which included arena dates in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. Based out of South Korea, BTS recently hit No. 1 on the Billboard Twitter Chart, beating out One Direction’s Harry Styles and Niall Horan.

Rap Monster (né Nam-Joon Kim), 22, phoned us for this interview as the group headed to L.A. from Las Vegas. For more information on the seven-piece group, check out their website. BTS is also active on social media, including two Twitter accounts and Facebook.

Q. Hi Nam-Joon. Thanks for doing this interview with me.
A. Thank you for having me!

Q. Was this your first trip to Las Vegas?

A. For me, it was the second time. For the other boys, it was the first time. I was last here in 2009 when I was 15. What I remember the most was the inside of the Bellagio. It was amazing. I had never seen a hotel like that before, where there was a whole world inside the hotel. It was beautiful. I got to see Cirque du Soleil’s “O” show. It was so nice. I remember the night view of Vegas, which was tremendous. I remember all the lights and people having fun. I saw a lot of people drinking, which was shocking to me then (since I was so young).

Q. What did you do in Vegas this time?

A. (We went to see) Cirque du Soleil’s “KÀ .” After we won (our Billboard Award), we had a small party for just our band members and the staff. It was really nice.

Q. You speak like an American. I’ve heard that you taught yourself to speak English. Is that true?

A. Oh, thank you for saying that. I guess I taught myself, but really, it’s my mother. I think my mom taught me, because she bought me some DVDs of “Friends” and she always made me watch CNN and BBC and things like that; and that really helped.

Q. O.K., I wrote the first book about that show.

A. Really? O.K. “Friends” is like the show of my life. Wow. That’s so cool.

Q. Because you’re the only member who is fluent in English, you bear the responsibility of doing all the interviews with English-speaking press. Is that difficult for you?

A. I am more confident with my English now. But it can be tiring, because my brain doesn’t think automatically in English. Actually, I feel quite a bit of pressure for me, because I want to answer correctly. In 2014, I knew my English was not so bad, but I had no confidence in talking directly to an English-speaking reporter. I had to do a short interview with, I think, Reuters from France. I was so nervous. I practiced memorizing three sentences for two hours. But, I think that these kinds of interviews make me develop a lot and that helps me. I like learning. I’ve been studying Japanese for years now, but it’s really hard. It’s definitely the next step for me to learn Japanese. I’m seriously studying it quite hard.

Q. I imagine that you’ll want to learn Portuguese next. Do you know the language?

A. Obrigado (which means thank you). That’s about it right now. (Laughs.)

Q. Which childhood trip stands out for you?

A. I don’t remember what my first trip was, but my parents always took me to areas around rivers in Korea. We would go camping and sleep outside in small tents. That is a great memory for me. I also studied in New Zealand for four months when I was 12 years old. It was exactly 125 days. I remember that because I wrote about it in my diary. Traveling helped with my education. I got to experience so many things.

Q. For newcomers who wanted to visit Korea, what would you suggest as must-sees?

A. I would recommend that you see at least two places that I love. You should definitely visit Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul. It’s a traditional palace that was built many centuries ago and it is really beautiful. Also, I think you should definitely go walk by the Han River (in Seoul). It’s a place I go to at least once a week.

Q. You do realize that all your fans are going to wait for you at the Han River, right?
A. (Laughs.) That’s OK.

Q. What kind of food do you look forward to eating on the road?

A. Besides Korean food? I don’t think my answer is that interesting, but I always eat pasta and steak. (Laughs) My taste is kind of normal. I love to try the local food wherever I am. But I’m not that adventurous when it comes to eating. I prefer to be safe. I have failed at eating some daring food. (Laughs)

Q. And speaking of Korean food, how is the Korean food outside of Korea?

A. It’s good. There are really good Korean restaurants in Brazil and the United States. They’re everywhere. Our company is really good and thinks of our food tastes so much. They always bring us Korean food from restaurants wherever we go. So wherever we tour, I know that we will eat well. It’s not that I don’t love other food. I do! I’m just so used to Korean food that I need to eat it if I haven’t had it for a while.

Q. What are your five favorite cities?

A. Wow, that’s really hard to pick just five. But I love New York. The city means a lot to me. So much of the music I like comes from there. I love the views and the buildings. I just really love New York. I’ve only been there once, but I really loved Moscow in Russia. Tokyo. Bern (Switzerland). And, of course, São Paulo (Brazil). I’ve been there three times and love it so. The fans in Brazil — they are passionate and fun and kind. We are so lucky because all our fans from around the world are great. We love all our fans from everywhere and they want us to visit them. We will try! They are really the best fans we could wish for.

Q. Have you gone skiing in Switzerland?
A. I hope to one day. I love Europe and the next time I’m there, I would like to take a personal trip to Bern. I would love to ski there.

© 2017 JAE-HA KIM

Rap Monster’s message to my son: 

At the end of our interview, I mentioned to Rap Monster that my son had wanted to skip part of school so that he could sit in on the interview. I said, “No.” This is what Rap Monster had to say to Kyle (you can hear the audio below):

Thanks for reading my column! Leave a comment below and I’ll make sure to forward the messages onto BTS’ management.

Comments (86)

  1. angie says:

  2. Thainá Aluane says:

  3. 윤라 says:

  4. Yoongi's Shawty says:

  5. Batatinha says:

  6. Lívia Trinds says:

  7. Aline Xtina says:

  8. SORRY BAE says:

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  11. Duda Klesck says:

  12. Rosalay Jatter says:

  13. BTS América Latina says:

  14. Sarah 태태 says:

  15. bopping says:

  16. Lala says:

  17. Lala says:

    Thank you for this interview <3 It's a true gift for us!

  18. Raquel Flower-Hobi says:

  19. DreamsOfArmy says:

  20. TWT says:

  21. Diele says:

    Ohhh que entrevista linda!
    Namjoon é uma pessoa extremamente maravilhosa… Aliás, todos os integrantes do BTS são. Tenho muito orgulho de ser uma ARMY.
    Obrigada por tudo!

  22. Leila says:

  23. Yasmin says:

    That was really kind of You. As a Brazilian Army I’m really happy that we were able to make the boys happy even if so many of us couldn’t go to the concert ’cause the place was too small for all of us, we tried to do our best so the ones that didn’t get tickets could feel that the boys were having fun and that their love from BTS could be felt throught us. Hope next time we can have concerts in a bigger place, or in more than one state so ou friends and fellows armys could go, with no one out. Thank you so much sweetie fro writing this, it was really meaninful for us. And Thank you BTS for exist and for inspire and create an awesome fandom like ARMY. I’m really so happy to be part of it. As an ARMY, no metter which country, I’m really happy with the feeling, the love, the passion and the caring that this fandom has <3 Thank you ARMYS all of the world, you and the boys are really my hope about the world kindness and goodness not being over yet. <3

  24. Sarah says:

  25. Sarah says:

  26. Thais says:

    Our leader is the kindest man on earth. So proud of him. Thanks Kim Jae Ha for apreciating our boys and giving BTS the spotlight they deserve. Kisses from Brazil <3

  27. Alice Fu says:

  28. Farah says:

    Thankyou thank you for this wonderful interview with RapMon!!! He didn’t say that Brazil stood out though, right?

    • Rap Monster's Wife says:

      Sure he did! He talked the most about Brazilian fans and said “The fans in Brazil — they are passionate and fun and kind.” He didn’t say that about any other country’s fans, not even Korea’s! “Stand out” means persist in support of something and I would say the Brazilian Army supports them the most!

    • quel says:

      I liked the interview !!! Obrigada 😉

  29. JP says:

  30. 5yellcutSOS says:

  31. Sharon Sanders says:

    super fun!

  32. Jeanetta says:

    Thank you so very much for this lovely article! #ARMYLOVE ❤️

  33. Jessica Walker Daniel says:

    Awesome job! I really have noticed his Improved confidence with English. 🙂

  34. 🇧🇷김아름🇰🇷 says:

  35. Trouxa Armys says:

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  39. Annie Growell says:

    I love BTS and I want BTS guys learn to speak spanish. If they learn to speak this lenguage, I will be really happy ♡

  40. Asma.M says:

  41. Jae-Ha Kim says:

  42. Kandy says:

  43. Raquel Flower-Hobi says:

  44. ❗RT PINNED❗ says:

  45. Yay! I hope this brings BTS and RapMonster even more new fans! Thanks for sharing! Nice article by the way!

  46. Mrs.Aryk says:

  47. Ana✌️ says:

  48. 뿌비 says:

    남준이는 최고의 리더임ㅠㅠㅠ 멋진 인터뷰 고마워요

  49. CrazyTS says:

  50. Chicago Tribune says:

  51. Evy 😉 says:

  52. nath 낱 says:

  53. Admirer says:

  54. It’s great to read thoughtful conversations with BTS to bridge the geographic gap between us, especially since, for some fans it’s about 60 dollars to send Kim Nam-Joon a vinyl LP complete with 2 more LPs of a dope Filipino American and L.A.-based rapper Bambu via ground shipping, especially because you may or may not have gone broke only to then find out that BigHit Ent.’s moving to another building and that the postal service is bound to charge you for the return postage, which you stupidly agreed to–cough, but that’s just for some fans.



    Rap Monster’s English really is amazing and I can’t wait to see him succeeding with his skill in Japanese as well, right when this little Filipino Canadian girl started learning Japanese herself hfhehh

  55. RogueAnn0320 says:

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  59. AGUST D BABE 💋 says:

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  61. BRAXIU TI AMA JIMIN♡ says:

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  72. 🇨🇷코스타리카💜방탄소년단🇰🇷 says:

  73. BunBun 토끼 says:

  74. 4EverBangtan says:

  75. Samantha says:

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