SEOUL -- K-pop supergroup BTS said Tuesday they were taking an indefinite break from one of the world's most popular acts to focus on solo pursuits.
The seven members, who are credited with generating billions of dollars for the South Korean economy, dropped the bombshell during their streamed annual "FESTA" dinner, part of a celebration that marks their anniversary as a group.
"We're going into a hiatus now," said Suga, 29, some 20 minutes into the clip, which was posted to the group's official YouTube channel.
Members were speaking to each other in Korean, and the video included English subtitles.
RM, 27, said that after the Grammy-nominated BTS' last few singles he "didn't know what kind of group we were anymore," adding later that group members were "exhausted."
"I've always thought that BTS was different than other groups," he continued. "But the problem with K-pop and the whole idol system is that they don't give you time to mature."
Jimin, 26, said the members are "slowly trying to figure things out now" and that "we're starting to think about what kind of artists we each want to be remembered by our fans."
"I think that's why we're going through a rough patch right now, we're trying to find our identity and that's an exhausting and long process."
By the end of the dinner several of the members of the group behind "Dynamite" and "Butter" grew tearful as they voiced gratitude for their supporters, a fandom known online as the "ARMY."
J-Hope, 28, said the group "should spend some time apart to learn how to be one again."
"I hope you don't see this is a negative thing," the artist implored fans. "And see that it's a healthy plan."
The news had fans online in a fever as to whether this meant the end of the pop juggernaut -- but according to the video, it was not the case.
"It's not that we're disbanding -- we're just living apart for awhile," said Suga.
Jungkook, 24, said "we promise we will return someday even more mature than we are now" and asked for the "blessing" of fans.
BTS has said they were going on short breaks before, first in 2019 and later in December 2021.
The news comes just days after the group released "Proof," an anthology album that included a new single, "Yet To Come (The Most Beautiful Moment)."
BTS' label did not respond to an AFP request for comment.
J-Hope said in the clip that time apart could help BTS "become a stronger group," and that the time was "important... for BTS' second chapter."
"I hope all our members stay healthy while they spend time on our own," added the singer who is slated to headline Chicago's Lollapalooza on his own later this summer.
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BTS's label enjoyed a surge in profits despite holding fewer concerts during the pandemic.
The septet is the first all-South Korean act to reign over Billboard's US top singles chart, a milestone they achieved with "Dynamite," the first BTS song sung completely in English.
They're also one of few acts since The Beatles to release four albums that hit number one stateside in less than two years.
The group has twice been nominated for a Grammy but has yet to win.
BTS recently made headlines for visiting the White House to deliver a message to President Joe Biden on the fight against anti-Asian racism.
The floppy-haired stars, dressed in matching dark suits and ties, with white shirts, joined White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre at the briefing room podium before meeting Biden.
Member Suga appealed for tolerance, saying that "it's not wrong to be different. I think equality begins when we open up and embrace all of our differences."
The White House praised BTS as "youth ambassadors who spread a message of hope and positivity across the world."
Anti-Asian sentiment and violence in America have grown in recent years in a phenomenon many blame on fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
BTS' brief appearance before journalists reportedly garnered more than 10 times the usual traffic on the White House's YouTube channel.
Footage the group recorded with Biden has notched nearly 3 million views on YouTube.