An interview published last month by an Australian teen magazine purportedly with BTS member RM immediately raised questions with some of the K-pop band’s devout fans, as members of the group rarely give interviews on their own. Many BTS fans began to speak out online, wondering if the article was legitimate.
Turns out, the fans were right. A spokesperson for BTS confirmed to BuzzFeed News the interview never took place.
The interview, published in April for the May issue of Total Girl magazine, initially excited some members of the BTS fanbase, known as ARMYs. Soon though, many grew confused by the contents of the article. The interview included questions asked by fans and the magazine featured nine pages about the band.
Fans of the group spoke about this on Clubhouse, in a room in which BuzzFeed News observed their conversation. Many fans theorized that some of the answers from RM seemed like they had come from unverified BTS trivia websites.
After Jenna Guillaume, a BTS fan and author who also freelances for BuzzFeed, uploaded the interview to Twitter, more fans began to weigh in.
Guillaume told BuzzFeed News she found out about the interview from a Facebook group after one of the staff at Total Girl posted about it. This Facebook post has since been removed.
"I was honestly shocked because BTS haven’t done any Australian media in a while, and Total Girl didn’t really align with the kind of publications they seem to be focused on," she said.
Most people online like Guillaume were confused at RM doing an interview alone when he currently isn't promoting an individual project. Guillaume got the digital version of the magazine and said "it immediately felt off."
"The answer about the members' hidden talents, for instance, didn’t sound like something RM would say at all. It was very outdated for some, and inaccurate for others,” she said.
She showed a friend and they agreed. "She said it was like an AI had machine-learned RM’s interview answers and spat this out, which is the perfect description," Guillaume said.
BuzzFeed News reached out to multiple representatives for Total Girl magazine for comment, but did not get a response. The author of the article has no online footprint, and it is unclear what country or city she lives in, so we were unable to try and contact her.
The strange saga is similar to one that made headlines earlier this year. In January, Seventeen magazine apologized to Lili Reinhart after they published an interview where someone impersonated the actor.
The apparently false BTS interview came as the band geared up for a round of interviews to promote their new English single. BTS was recently interviewed by Rolling Stone, which featured the group on the cover in addition to individual covers and interviews with each member.
The band will be releasing their new single "Butter" on May 21 in the US.
Daniel Findlay, the associate publisher for Total Girl, told Gizmodo he was devastated to have been duped. Findlay apologized to Total Girl readers and BTS fans.
“We have attempted several times to obtain proof and information about the interview from the writer but they have not responded to that request,” Findlay said.