South Korean boyband BTS have announced a break to allow their members to work on solo projects.
The news came less than a week after the seven-man group, which launched a global K-pop craze, released their latest album Proof.
Speaking during an annual dinner celebrating the band's founding, rapper RM said:
"The problem with K-pop and the whole idol system is that they don't give you time to mature.
"You have to keep producing music and keep doing something."
According to a report in Deadline, the other band members insisted that the band are not splitting up.
Rapper J-Hope said:
"We should spend some time apart to learn how to be one again.
"I hope you don't see this as a negative thing, and see it as a healthy plan.
"BTS will become stronger that way."
Lead vocalist Jimin added: "Now we're starting to think about what kind of artists we each want to be remembered by our fans."
And rapper Suga said: "It's not like we're disbanding."
An English translation of their words showed one of the members calling the break a "hiatus", but this description was disputed by a spokesperson for the band.
The spokesperson said in a statement: "To be clear, they are not on hiatus but will take time to explore some solo projects at this time and remain active in various different formats."
RM, Jimin, J-Hope, Suga, Jungkook, V and Jin formed the band in 2010 and debuted three years later, becoming worldwide sensations with songs such as Dynamite, Boy With Luv, and Butter.
Last year, BTS were the first Asian band to win artist of the year at the American Music Awards, and they even met US President Joe Biden in May to talk about hate crimes targeting Asians.