SEOUL — K-pop superstars BTS will take a 'long-term break' from the music scene, their agency said on Monday, after the boy band topped charts in the US and Britain earlier this year.
But the pause may only last a few weeks, with the septet due to play a controversial show in Saudi Arabia in October.
The K-pop industry is known for cutthroat competition and around-the-clock work hours that include concerts, press events and gruelling singing and dancing training when the stars are offstage.
BTS will take their "first official long-term break since their debut" six years ago, managers Big Hit Entertainment said, adding it will be a time to "recharge and refresh as musicians and creators".
It would also be a time for them to "enjoy their daily lives as normal 20-something young men", the agency said in a midnight statement.
"If you run into BTS at an unexpected place, we ask for the fans' consideration to allow the members to enjoy their private time."
BTS - or Bangtan Sonyeondan, which translates as Bulletproof Boy Scouts - have gained a massive global following in recent years, becoming the first K-pop group to top charts in the US and Britain with a string of sold-out shows in Los Angeles, Paris and London's Wembley Stadium.
The floppy-haired musicians, all in their 20s and often sporting earrings and lipstick, appeal to a generation that feels comfortable with the idea of fluid gender identity.
They maintain close relationships with their fans, flooding social media with selfies, videos and tweets in Korean and English.
The statement did not say how long the break will be but the band is scheduled to perform in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on October 11.
Hundreds of thousands of fans wrote on the BTS Twitter account - which has 21.3 million followers - to wish them a happy vacation.
"I love you very much and hope you enjoy your break to the fullest," a fan commented.
Another wrote: "We are going nowhere and will be here to welcome you back with fanfares!"
The group's popularity has generated huge profits for Big Hit Entertainment, which is even collaborating with Barbie maker Mattel for BTS dolls.
South Korean performers such as Psy - whose 2012 hit Gangnam Style
became the first video to top a billion views on YouTube - have previously broken into Western markets, but none have achieved BTS' sustained success. — AFP