BTS members are ambassadors of Seoul, but none of them are from there – now the K-pop idols’ actual hometowns have become travel hotspots for fans

The BTS members are Seoul’s honorary tourism ambassadors. Photo: Seoul Metropolitan Government
Before BTS became a global phenomenon, its members used to be small town boys with big dreams. And although they are currently ambassadors of Seoul, none of them actually hail from the South Korean capital. And since their rise to fame, their respective hometowns have become tourist attractions for fans clamouring to learn more about the childhood days of their idols.

So where did each member used to call home before their big break?

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RM – Ilsan

BTS leader RM’s love for his hometown, Ilsan, is well-known. Photo: @BigHitEnt/Twitter

“I was born in Ilsan, a city near Seoul, South Korea. It’s a beautiful place, with a lake, hills, and even an annual flower festival. I spent a happy childhood there, and I was just an ordinary boy.” This is how BTS leader RM introduced himself during his speech at the United Nations General Assembly in 2018.


RM’s hometown, Ilsan, is part of Goyang in Gyeonggi Province near Seoul, and RM clearly loves it. The song Ma City, which RM co-wrote, features the lyric, “Ilsan is the place I want to be buried after I die.” His section of the song also explains how he loves Ilsan Lake Park more than Seoul’s famous Han River, and considers it a place where he can go when he feels like he is losing himself.

The star’s love for his city is so well-known that the Goyang City Council even celebrated his birthday with a month-long festival featuring a fountain show at Ilsan Lake Park plus a dance flash mob set to BTS songs, and much more. RM responded to the festivities on K-pop community online platform Webis, saying, “so can I just sneak up and dance too on the day?”

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Jin – Gwacheon

Jin appears to have once tweeted that he’d like to be the ambassador of his hometown, Gwacheon. Photo: @BigHitEnt/Twitter

The eldest member of the team, Jin, is from Gwacheon in Gyeonggi-do Province. What’s so special about Gwacheon? A tweet posted to the official BTS account in 2018 explained: “Come to Gwacheon, a place that’s nice to live. It has the Seoul Land theme park, a tiger and an elephant bahruuuuuuhhhhaaaaa [trumpet sound] in Seoul Grand Park. Gonna be the ambassador of Gwacheon and Seoul Land.” Although the tweet wasn’t signed, it’s easy to guess who was behind it.

Fans reportedly helped out the residents of Jin’s hometown on his birthday in 2018 by donating over 300 packs of sanitary pads to underprivileged students.

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V and Suga – Daegu

V and Suga both grew up in Daegu. Photo: @BigHitEnt/ Twitter

V and Suga are both from Daegu, the fourth-largest city in Korea. An hour and 40 minutes away from Seoul by KTX train, it boasts plenty of good food and cultural sights. It’s also known for leading Korea’s textile industry.

BTS fans often visit places significant to V’s life, such as the schools and day care centre he attended like, as well as Dalseong Park, a place that V is fond of. The park attracted attention from fans after V took selfies with the zoo animals that he posted to social media.

Fans also often visit a rice soup restaurant near Keimyung University that used to be run by Suga’s parents until they sold it, reportedly due to health issues interfering with business and out of a desire to live closer to their son in Seoul.

Suga celebrated the restaurant’s opening by sending flower arrangements with the text, “Mum, hope the business hits the jackpot!”

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J-Hope – Gwangju

Before J-Hope became famous through BTS, he was already a well-known street dancer in his hometown of Gwangju. Photo: @BigHitEnt/Twitter

J-Hope was already well-known in his hometown of Gwangju in South Jeolla Province before his debut for his street dancing. He even won local and national dance competitions.

Like RM, J-Hope has also mentioned his hometown in song lyrics. In his solo single Chicken Noodle Soup, which he conceived of and co-wrote, he raps, “From Gwangju, one gang of you-know-what, Geum-nam Chung-jang Street, that’s my Harlem.” One of his sections in Ma City, which he also contributed lyrics to, references the May 1980 Gwangju Uprising.

Gwangju is currently planning to open a “K-pop street”, an attraction that will spotlight idols from Gwangju such as TVXQ’s U-Know and Bae Suzy.

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Jimin and Jungkook – Busan

Jungkook and Jimin are from Busan, where the tourist office has suggested official itineraries for visitors centred around the idols. Photo: @BigHitEnt/Twitter

Jungkook and Jimin are both from Busan, the second most populated city in Korea. Located at the southeastern tip of the country, the port city is renowned for its beaches. But BTS fans can also consider following two itineraries dedicated to the BTS members suggested by the Busan Tourism Organization.

The tours feature the schools the members attended in addition to famous city attractions and dining destinations. Jungkook’s tour starts at Baekyang Elementary School while Jimin’s starts at Hoedong Maru, a centre for creative and nutritional education programmes for children that used to be Hoedong Elementary School. Jimin celebrated the centre’s opening with a video message.

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J-Hope rapped about Gwangju in solo single Chicken Noodle Soup and RM mentioned Ilsan in his UN speech, while the members’ hometowns celebrate them with festivals and even official tours