BTS members are known by several names: their real name, their stage name and the many nicknames that fans come up with for them. Some names are obvious (Kookie is a cute way to say Jungkook, duh), while BTS’ stage name meanings are a bit more complicated.
BTS debuted in June 2013 with their song, “No More Dream,” from their first album, 2 Kool 4 Skool. Four of the seven members used stage names, while the other three used versions of their real name. Of course, it’s not uncommon for pop stars to use stage names. Singers from Elton John to Lady Gaga have used make-believe names for the sake of their career. It also isn’t uncommon in K-pop. Some of the genre’s most well-known stars, from G-Dragon to T.O.P., don’t use their real names.
As for BTS, each member has a different story behind why he did (or didn’t) choose a stage name. There’s a reason that Junkook, Jin, Jimin, J-Hope, V, RM and Suga chose their specific names to debut with BTS, and now we know why. Ahead, find out the wild stories behind the Bangtan Boys’ stage names. For many ARMYs, BTS’ members are household names, and now we know why.
Real name: Kim Namjoon
In a 2017 post on BTS’ Fan Cafe, RM revealed that he chose the stage name “Rap Monster” as a Big Hit Entertainment trainee because of a line in a song he wrote. “It was a stage name that I naturally came to be called among our company family members and my members, after a line in a song I’d made as a trainee, and I think I became very fond of it,” he wrote.
However, four years after BTS’ debut, RM realized that “Rap Monster” didn’t fit his music as much as before, which is when he started to introduce himself as Rapmon or RM. “But once I started promoting, the name ‘BTS’s Rap Monster’ was a bit long, and I’ve become keenly aware of the fact that it’s become different from [what I want] to put at the front of the music I’ve made for the past five years, and the music I want to share in the future,” he wrote. “At some point, I started introducing myself as Rapmon or RM, rather than the full name Rap Monster.”
The rapper, who used the name “RM” for some music and mixtapes before his official announcement, went on to reveal that he will now be known as simply RM (instead of Rap Monster), which is how fans know him today. “I’d like to change the name I use for promotions to ‘RM,’ which I think is more in accordance with the music I’m aiming for and also has a wider spectrum,” he wrote.
Real name: Jung Hoseok
The story behind J-Hope’s stage name is simple. The rapper once said in an interview that he wanted the word “hope” in his stage name to be seen as a positive person. The J, on the other hand, is from his surname, Jung.
“My name has the deepest meaning out of all the others in this group,” he said. “You know how in Pandora’s Box after everything else left, the only thing remaining was hope, right? I put ‘hope’ in my name to be a hopeful existence in the group. I got the ‘J’ from my last name, Jung. That’s how I became J-Hope.”
Real name: Min Yoongi
In a 2017 interview with Cuvism magazine, Suga revealed that he at first wanted to use the stage name, Gloss (which is the stage name he used when he was lyricist in his hometown in Daegu), when he joined Big Hit Entertainment. However, Big Hit Entertainment wasn’t a fan of Gloss, which is when the company’s CEO, Bang Si Hyuk, recommended the name “Suga,” which the rapper was fond of because it contradicted his stage appearance. Per Koreaboo, Suga also liked the name because of how it nodded to basketball position (shooting guard), which sonically sounded like his stage name.
Real name: Kim Taehyung
V was one of the last BTS members to be announced, so there was always a mystery around him. He once said in an interview that Big Hit Entertainment recommended three stage names for him: Six, Lex and V. In the end, though, the singer chose V because of how it represents “victory.”
“My stage name was chosen last. Six, Lex, V,” he said. “Those three names were suggested but the members and PD all said that V fit me the best and so I picked V to stand for victory”
Real name: Park Jimin
In a 2015 interview, Jimin revealed that he almost used a stage name before his debut with BTS. The name? Baby G. (According to Amino Apps, Big Hit Entertainment also recommended the stage names Baby J and Kid for Jimin.) In the end, though, Jimin chose to use his real name for BTS, which is how ARMYs know him today.
Real name: Jeon Jeongguk
Like Jimin, Jungkook also almost used a stage name. In the same 2015 interview, the singer revealed that he almost went by the stage name Seagull, which was a reference to the city he was born, Busan, whose official bird is the seagull. (The mascot of the city’s baseball team, Lotte Giants, are also the Busan Seagulls.) However, in the end, Jungkook chose to use his real name, though in a different spelling, which led fans to nickname him Kookie.
Real name: Kim Seokjin
Jin is another member of BTS who used his real name. The singer hasn’t talked much about why he chose to use a shortened version of his birth name, Kim Seokjin, but it was likely to keep his name short like the other members. It’s unclear if he considered a stage name like Jimin and Jungkook, but in the end, we’re not complaining. He’s known as Jin (and World Wide Handsome) to fans.