Photo: RM, leader of BTS, gives a virtual speech to the United Nations in the 2020 General Assembly. Credit: the United Nations.
BTS 방탄소년단 may be a global sensation, but the Billboard-topping group is not the only musical game in town for South Korea. Almost as popular is Mr. Trot 미스터트롯, a survival-style reality show program on TV Chosun TV 조선 that showcases trot 트로트 music, the oldest genre in Korean pop music. In a RealMeter poll that put BTS and Mr. Trot head-to-head, the septet prevailed overall: 44.8% preferred BTS while 36.5% preferred Mr. Trot. But Mr. Trot won out among the older demographics: among those in their 50s and 60s, 46.8% preferred Mr. Trot (as opposed to 38.3% for BTS).
Geographically, BTS was more popular in all major areas of South Korea save one: Mr. Trot narrowly led in the conservative areas of Daegu 대구 / Gyeongsangbuk-do Province 경상북도 (39.2% versus 34.8%). The difference along the political lines was even starker, as 60.4% of the Democratic Party 민주당 supporters preferred BTS (versus 27% for Mr. Trot), while 44.9% of the People Power Party 국민의힘 preferred Mr. Trot (versus 34.2% for BTS.)