Just before soundcheck for the second night of their four-show concert Permission to Dance On Stage - LA, BTS members RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V and Jungkook opened up about their complicated feelings on returning to the stage after COVID-19 derailed their 2020 world tour during a press conference conducted with an interpreter.
"Yesterday I asked myself is this reality or is this a dream?" Suga said hours before their Sunday show at Sofi Stadium. "Nothing has really come easy for BTS, and it’s been the same for the past two years."
But, he added, BTS "has always overcome these barriers and bounds by trying hard."
"That is a strength that BTS has – our ability to overcome."
2020 was a bittersweet year for the wildly popular K-Pop group. Their album "Map of the Soul: 7" dropped in February, weeks before the pandemic forced them to postpone their highly anticipated Map of the Soul world tour. They released another album, the intimate and self-directed "BE," that November.
And this month, BTS has wracked up more milestones to their ever-growing resume, winning every award for which they were nominated at the American Music Awards and clinching a 2022 Grammy nomination for best pop duo/group performance.
"We created, and we released songs that tried to express our frustrations as authentically as possible," Jungkook said of the group's recent music. "The fact that we receive so much love for these songs that we created, I think, gave us a lot of strength and a lot of energy."
Now, BTS is ready to give that energy back to their fans, after what V called a "very sad, difficult time for everybody."
According to RM, the pandemic hasn't been easy for anyone and the same is true for BTS. One of COVID's greatest tolls on the group, he said, has been the inability for them to connect with their fans in concert.
He sees the Permission to Dance mini-tour as the group's chance to show "how much we’ve grown, how much we’ve learned these past 2 years."
In echoing RM's sentiment, Jimin said the group "felt powerless" and "depressed."
"We worked hard at this because we wanted to bring healing and consolation to everyone else who is also going through these hard times."
But their return to the stage has come with pressure. Jimin confessed he felt "a sense of regret" for not relishing on Saturday's opening night as much as he could have.
"I was very nervous. I was very scared," he said. "I wasn’t able to really express those emotions sufficiently, and, because of that, I wasn’t able to enjoy the experience as much as I wanted to."
Jin added he was "very nervous" as well and noted the group's pre-show huddle was especially moving on Saturday. RM said seeing the ARMY this weekend has made him "really emotional beyond words."
According to J-Hope, the magnitude of BTS' worldwide following is not lost on them.
"Speaking on behalf of a generation is a bit embarrassing when we think about it, but it comes with a sense of responsibility," he said. "This really is the power of the music of BTS, and we worked really hard preparing this tour because we wanted to show this power, the power of our music."
As BTS wraps a triumphant 2021, one question remains as they head into the new year: Will 2022 bring the K-Pop group their first Grammy?
It's an achievement BTS has wanted for years. But, according to RM, if they do win, it won't just be their own victory. "It's very simple," he said, adding that he'd give "half" of the credit "to the ARMYs"
"You're just a piece of this whole journey... I always try to realize that for myself," RM said. "It really helps me keep myself down to earth, and I think it's really important to survive in this crazy industry."
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: BTS on returning to the stage with 'Permission to Dance' shows in LA