Last Updated on October 26, 2021 by BTS 101
Back in 2016, BigHit had the idea to send BTS on a holiday.
Of course, this holiday would be fully filmed and turned into a reality show for the fans, so it was a bit of a working vacation. But still, the production company tried very hard to create for the group a more typical “young friends” experience. They gave the members an allowance and some general guidelines, but they were expected to handle the actual details of their travel as much as possible on their own, as well as cook, clean, and dress themselves while away.
The series was called Bon Voyage and it was such a huge hit – with fans and with BTS themselves – that it turned into a series. These are all must-watches for ARMY. All seasons so far include 8 episodes plus 8 funny behind-the-scenes featurettes.
Plus, most of the BV seasons have an “Episode 0” which is a short trailer and interview segment with original content that is available for free on vLive, separate from the paid packages.
Bon Voyage 1: Scandinavia, 2016
Available on vLive, paid content (it’s in a bundle called “3rd Anniversary Present” with other clips and the 3rd Festa concert)
The members are given just a half hour to pack before being dumped at the airport, where they have to try to check in themselves for a flight to Norway. They have an itinerary that includes Norway, Sweden, and Finland, over a five day period, and although their accommodations and activities have been pre-booked, they’ll be left to support themselves most of the time.
This season is absolutely chaotic as BTS shows that they have little experience with a lot of daily tasks. They get lost a lot, never seem to have any clean clothes, and lose so many things – including, famously, RM’s passport, which results in him having to go home early as he is unable to cross the border when they move from Sweden to Finland. V arrives a day later than everyone else as he was busy filming his kDrama Hwarang, and as a result of having different travel bookings, arrives in Sweden alone and gets on the wrong bus and ends up on a crazy adventure by himself along the side of a highway.
At the end of the trip, their main manager Seojin and BigHit CEO Bang write the members touching letters about their future that turn out to be surprisingly on the money when it comes to predicting their greatness. The final episode features a creepy visit to a very creepy Santa’s village, but push past that part to get to the good stuff – extended interviews with each member about what it means to have given up the average things in life, like going to the movies or on a trip with friends, in exchange for the extraordinary life of being an idol.
Bon Voyage 2: Hawaii, 2017
Available on vLive, paid content
The members are more experienced this time around, and handle the trip to Hawaii as a group of seven much more smoothly (although JK does wear the same shirt virtually every day, and even swims in it). This season features a lot of food shopping, clothes shopping, water sports, and eating, and is the origin of many well-known BTS jokes and sayings. There’s a generally relaxed vibe to this season, and the group is broken into smaller subunits for many events, allowing us to see them interacting with each other in unusual ways. Special activities include diving with sharks, a helicopter tour, 4×4 riding, hiking, a luau dinner, and learning to surf.
On the last night, they take a boat trip and each member writes a heartfelt letter to one other member. There are a lot of sweet tears involved.
Bon Voyage 3: Malta, 2018
Available on vLive, paid content
This season is almost broken into two halves. For the first several episodes, V is missing due to a death in his family. He joins them in Episode 4, right as SUGA leaves, also due to a death in the family. The entire group of seven are only together for one lunch in Malta, and it’s moving and almost sad how the remaining six members are often confused and forgetful that one of them is missing and continue to ask for tables with seven seats anyway.
For the members that are there, this season has a lot of eating, drinking alcohol, visiting beautiful places, and complaining about the heat. There are some crazy outfits from Jin and j-hope, a lot of too-warm black outfits by SUGA and Jungkook, and absolutely gorgeous vacation wear by Jimin. There are a lot of cute subunit “dates” and some street busking by Jungkook and V. The members (except SUGA) go camping for the first time ever and have absolutely no skills in that area, and rely on the one super camper staff guy to help them out. V is sometimes sad, and gets a lot of support from the others, which is heartwarming. On the last night, they have a special dinner suspended on a platform in the air, where they write letters to their future selves.
This season was the first season where BTS were really well-known internationally. Although their fan base in Malta was still small – for example, most of the restaurant and bar staff did not know who they were, despite Jin asking often, “Do you know BTS?” – they were sometimes stalked and chased by fans, making filming difficult.
Bon Voyage 4: New Zealand, 2019
Available on Weverse, paid content
As BTS were now too internationally famous to travel anywhere in a casual style, they decided to tour the countryside of New Zealand in winter, when there would be almost no tourists. For this season, they rent a camper and an SUV and drive and camp across the south island, seeing amazing scenery and experiencing nature while doing a lot of grocery shopping and cooking. There is some snow and it’s really cold and as is typical for BTS, they are chronically underdressed and ill prepared, although they do show some greatly improved camping skills..
This season has a much quieter vibe than the other seasons as not much happens other than driving, shopping, and cooking. There are a few memorable events – hikes, horseback riding for V, some fishing, a helicopter ride, and a giant bungee swing. But in general it is just about the guys hanging out together, taking care of each other, and doing some terribly adorable car karaoke. The members make constant reference to the fact that they were apart from each other for a month before this trip due to private vacation time, and it felt strange to be away from each other – it’s so heartwarming to hear all of them mention how comfortable and happy they are to be back together.
In their closing interviews reviewing the trip, Jungkook says some confusing things about feeling sorry and apologetic and vowing to do better. This is in reference to a “scandal” that happened just before BTS left on this trip, where Jungkook was spotted having lunch with a woman. Idols in Korea are generally not allowed to publicly date in order to seem accessible to fans, and when the slightest hint of dating happens, it’s major news. In this case, JK was meeting with a friend who turned out to be a tattoo artist, and she helped him with his now-famous tattoos on his right hand that spell out ARMY and include a purple heart and the BTS logo. It’s kind of silly that this resulted in a “scandal” but such is kPop media coverage in Korea. If you keep careful watch during this season, you’ll see JK wearing a glove on his right hand most of the time to cover his new tattoos, including a ridiculous bright green rubber one while cooking on the last night.
Bonus content – if you’ve fantasized about recreating their BV4 trip, there’s an incredibly in-depth description of every stop they made here.
In The Soop 1, 2020
Available on Weverse, paid content
The COVID-19 crisis in 2020 meant that a fifth season of Bon Voyage was not possible (and really, there was maybe nowhere left on the globe where they would be able to travel in peace). So instead, we got In the Soop, a series where the members rent a large cottage beside a lake for two weeks, and spend two long weekends there just hanging out. (Soop is the Korean word for forest.) It’s eight full episodes plus eight more behind-the-scenes short clips.
The members were able to request any kind of activities they wanted, so the cottage is super outfitted with things like puzzles, games, and Lego; musical instruments; a karaoke machine; paint and wood carving supplies; sports equipment of all kinds; fishing gear; toys; and more. It’s definitely a coronavirus getaway paradise. The main focus is on cooking as the members have to make lunch and dinner every day, with more relaxed activities in between, sometimes alone, sometimes in small groups, and sometimes all together. Some lovely artwork is created, and the members as a group spontaneously write and create a very funny theme song for the show. In general the members are left to do whatever they want – there are no challenges or organized activities, and although a few interviews feel like they were prompted, in general it’s just dudes hanging out.
It doesn’t sound like it would be interesting but the whole series is just so healing. It’s quiet and heartwarming and gentle and fun. The members are genuinely happy and delighted to be together, and the way they take care of each other is so kind and encouraging. It’s completely re-watchable and worth a purchase.
In The Soop 2, 2021
Available on Weverse, paid content
After the smashing success of In The Soop 1, HYBE built BTS their very own private getaway for In The Soop 2. It’s a forest paradise featuring a three huge houses custom outfitted with a gym and gaming room, a tennis/basketball court, swimming pool, and more. BTS headed out to the compound for just a four-day vacation at the end of July 2021.
In the Soop 2 aired in October/November 2021 and had just four episodes, plus one additional behind-the-scenes outtake episode. Like the first series, their time was completely unstructured and they spent their days relaxing, playing video games, exercising, and trying a few new things like paintball and 4×4 driving. Jin and SUGA do a lot of cooking, SUGA as usual does some work, and all the members spend some time playing with Jungkook’s Doberman puppy, Bam (which means Night). In general, it’s another quiet visit to the forest for a vacation-by-proxy with the members.