Restaurant owner shares her memories of BTS back in their trainee days

Jun Ko, Feb. 15, 2019, 12:01 p.m.


Starting off as a group from a small company to being known as the biggest K-Pop group in the world, BTS is undoubtedly the definition of a success story. Despite their massive fame, BTS continues to remain humble and ever-hardworking when it comes to their music. The behavior speaks volumes as it serves as a reminder that they have never forgot their beginning days. They continue to retain the mannerisms back when they were just rookies; with how some groups grow out of rookie behavior with time and as they gain more fame, BTS serves to be a breath of fresh air with their continued politeness. 

Their behavior being the same as when they were rookies can be confirmed by someone who saw to them closely in their rookie days. Kang Sun-Ja, the owner of Yoojung Sikdang, shared a bit about the boys back in the early stages of their career. The members of BTS had eaten at the restaurant for two years back when they were trainees. BTS' presence in the restaurant can be felt through the numerous BTS products put up in the store's interior. 

1. We heard BTS members came to this restaurant every day as trainees. Can you tell me about your memories of that time? 

"The boys were very bright, respectful, friendly, and well-mannered. They are just well-rounded. Not many people their age are like that. They greeted me every time we met and I thought there is something different about them. Their success is not just pure luck but also thanks to their effort. They really put their blood, sweat, and tears into their work. At times, I felt like their parents would feel for their children if they saw them. When they practiced hard, they would come upstairs from the studio in the basement with their t-shirts and hair covered in sweat. They would practice every day from morning to 10PM, sometimes they would practice all night. They worked that hard. Now that they reached the rop, I think BTS probably look back at the past. It's rare for people their age to work that age. Most people want to play and hang out with friends. It's not easy to give everything up and focus on one thing, you know? And what they sacrificed had brought them something 100 better."

2. If they came here every day, the food must be good. Did they eat the same dish each time?

"They did eat the same stuff a lot. They rotated between the dishes. They liked the bibimbap best, which comes in rice mixed with pork. That became the 'Bangtan Bibimbap' later. For about 2 1/2 years, they came to eat here. They ate about 2 to 3 bowls of rice before their company put them on a diet. Yoongi used to eat chicken breast, milk, and banana all blended into a shake. Sometimes I would feed them their favorite foods secretly. I remember telling them that they have to eat well to work and that they won't gain weight because they move around a lot." 

3. Who had the most charm? 

Though everyone had their own charm, I would say Jimin. 

4. Did they ever ask you for advice? 

"Sometimes they would talk. I'm sure they had their fair share of struggles but they always managed to talk it out between themselves. Namjoon would hardly put his phone down when eating, always studying other performers in order to get better. I thought to myself that he had the potential to be a leader, which ended up becoming true. Yoongi was very kind. They all fulfilled their own roles. When I see them hug each other and get all teary-eyed on stage after a concert, I'm reminded of when they reacted the same back when they were trainees. They hugged each other and took care of each other. It's very heartwarming."

5. Do you still follow BTS? 

"I do. ARMYs send me stuff, especially when the group holds a concert. ARMYs are good people. Just like BTS, I think their fans are also kind. From those in their teens to those in their 80s, people from all age groups tell me they get energy from BTS' music. You talk to people who come to the restaurant often. Some fans were having a hard time with their marriage. They said that each lyric of BTS' songs touched their heart completely, which made them realize that something was wrong in their life. And from there, many told me they were able to start afresh and begin a new life. When you leave your job, you could end up depressed. Many people lived a new life, thanks to BTS. I find it interesting that so many fans, all with their different stories, managed to get motivation from BTS' music and start again." 

6. Do you listen to BTS? 

"I love 'Blood, Sweat, & Tears' the best. The lyrics touch my heart and I'm sure it does to theirs as well. When the shop is quiet, I sometimes feel like they would enter through the door, exclaiming how they were hungry. On the day they debuted, they came here to eat and take pictures, which ended up being covered in the media. I'm just thankful that our restaurant became known because of them. I'm just a restaurant owner. I don't know if it's because they are thankful or not, but they must have told people about us since we get many ARMYs as customers. Most customers that come here for lunch are ARMYs." 

7. When was the last time you saw them? 

"I haven't seen them since July two years ago when Seokjin came alone. I miss them. They will always have a place in my heart. I wonder if they're doing okay; I hope they're eating well while they're abroad. I want them to visit again. Really, I do. Any time. I miss them a lot and I want to do something for them. I didn't tell them that I love them. Instead, I used to say 'Stay healthy and eat well.' If I saw them now, I would tell them that I love them. I remember Yoongi saying they moved offices. Fans ended up coming to the restaurant in their stead. I think they wanted to come, but with their schedule, it became something hard to do. You know, I didn't really do much. I'm just a dinner lady who did my best cooking for them since they lived far away from their parents. I did my job as being someone like their parent. I'm just happy that they haven't forgotten about me." 

comments powered by Disqus