bts rap monster
BTS Rap Monster visits the "Today" Show at Rockefeller Plaza on February 21, 2020 in New York City. Source: Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images/AFP

Kim Namjoon, better known as K-pop group BTS Rap Monster (RM), is well-known for many things. He’s the leader of BTS, the record-breaking K-pop group credited for leading the Korean Wave into the US and global music scene. He has an IQ score of 148, interpreted as “very gifted,” with only around two percent of the population score above 130.

In 2018, he added one more success to the list: an inspiring speech at the UN General Assembly.

What stands out from the speech at the launch of Generation Unlimited was the almost flawless quality of his English. Comments that followed naturally asked how BTS Rap Monster achieved this when the rest of us barely know any other words apart from “annyeonghaseyo” despite watching hours of Korean drama.

bts rap monster

In this file released by the United Nations, K-Pop band BTS poses for a photo with World Bank President Jim Yong Kim (R) during a meeting focused on youth issues at the United Nations in New York on Sept. 24, 2018. Source: Mark Garten/AFP

What fans know is he was born and raised in South Korea. In a Chicago Tribune article in 2017, when asked about a childhood trip that stands out to him, BTS Rap Monster answered his family trips to areas around rivers in South Korea and a months-long trip to New Zealand. Many believe this — and hours spent watching US sitcom “Friends” — are the reasons he speaks great English.

“I also studied in New Zealand for four months when I was 12 years old. It was exactly 125 days. I remember that because I wrote about it in my diary. Traveling helped with my education. I got to experience so many things,” he said.

Where exactly did BTS Rap Monster study at?

In SBSPopAsia video, however, we see Australian host Andy Trieu as he visits “Rap Monster’s University”. No name of the university is mentioned or shown.

In another fan video, BTS Rap Monster is said to have studied in Auckland, the most populous urban area in New Zealand. According to another article by SBS, it is reported that he has studied before in New Zealand.

Piecing these YouTube videos and articles together, the hypothesis is BTS Rap Monster studied at a university in Auckland. The city’s two internationally-ranked universities are: University of Auckland and Auckland University of Technology. Rumours speculate he attended the latter.

Beyond what BTS Rap Monster said in his interview with Chicago Tribune, however, there is nothing definitive to prove he went to either.

As he was 12 when in New Zealand, he would have been too young to enter university. This brings us to the other possibility: BTS Rap Monster enrolled in a short-term English language course while in New Zealand.

For example, he could have joined the English Language Academy at the University of Auckland.

Students are tested on their first day to determine their General English class level: Elementary, Pre-Intermediate, Upper Intermediate, Advanced. Their website states the cost for a three to eleven weeks course in 2020 to be 465 New Zealand dollars and for 12 weeks and more NZ$450. There is no minimum age mentioned.


SiriusXM Host Mikey Piff poses with K-pop boy band BTS visit the SiriusXM Studios on February 21, 2020 in New York City. Source: Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SiriusXM/AFP

At International House — Auckland University of Technology’s English language school — the minimum age to enrol in its English courses is 18. This applies to classes of all levels from Elementary to Advanced.

Our best guess is that BTS Rap Monster most likely attended a short course at a high school instead of a university in New Zealand. Here’s hoping for an interview where RM finally drops all the details on his education so K-pop stans can follow his footsteps to speaking perfect English!

New Zealand is getting ready to welcome international students into its country’s universities soon. Find out more about its plans to fly international students into Wellington, the processes in store for them when they arrive and how a town renowned for adventure sports could be where they’ll spend 14 days in quarantine.

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