Korean fans greet BTS with thunderous applause
"We missed you all so, so much!"
K-pop phenomenon BTS kicked off “Permission To Dance On Stage – Seoul,” the boy band’s first in-person concert in Korea in over two years, at the Seoul Olympic Stadium in southern Seoul’s Songpa District on Thursday 7 p.m.
The last time BTS performed in front of an audience in Korea was in October 2019 at the final concert of its “Love Yourself: Speak Yourself Tour.” Although the boy band broke its Covid-induced offline concert hiatus in Los Angeles late last year, ARMY — or fans of BTS — in Korea had to wait about three months longer to see their favorite idols in person again.
Approximately 15,000 fans attended Thursday’s concert, the first of three runs scheduled for March 10, 12 and 13. The run on Thursday was livestreamed via fan community platform Weverse and the March 13 performance will also be streamed live.
After opening the concert with its songs “On” (2020) and “Fire” (2016), BTS members took to the mic to express how much the boy band has been longing to meet fans in Korea.
“It’s been so long,” said V. “Last time [for our online concert last October], we had to perform in front of empty audience seats with just cameras. I’m so moved to see that ARMY is actually here.”
“It’s our first [in-person] concert in three months since L.A., but it feels like it’s been three years,” said Jungkook. “I’ve been working out to increase my physical strength for today’s concert.”
“Many of you are watching online,” said Jin. “Let’s enjoy this like we’re at the same place!”
The audience responded with thunderous applause. Although prohibited from screaming or shouting due to anti-Covid measures, the stadium roared with ARMY’s synchronized clapping, coordinated perfectly on beat for each song.
BTS entertained fans throughout the 160-minute performance with a dynamic setlist of 28 hit numbers including “DNA” (2017), “Blood Sweat & Tears” (2016), “Fake Love” (2018), “Boy With Luv” (2019), “Life Goes On” (2020), Dynamite” (2020), “Butter” (2021), “Idol” (2018) and more.
“I attended BTS’s most recent Seoul concert in October 2019,” Shin Yoon-seo, a 19-year-old high school student and ARMY from Hwaseong, Gyeonggi who attended Thursday’s concert told the Korea JoongAng Daily.
“That was my first time attending a BTS concert,” she said. “After that, I was so excited because I had won an invitation to a Seoul concert of the ‘BTS Map of the Soul Tour’ in early 2020, but it got canceled because of the Covid-19 pandemic. I was really disappointed that the 2019 concert was my first and last for over two years until today.”
Fans who were unable to purchase tickets due to steep competition gathered outside the stadium to watch the livestream on their personal devices while enjoying the festive atmosphere around the venue. Many dressed in purple, which is BTS’s symbol color.
“We’ve been fans of BTS since 2014,” said Valeria, a 20-year-old Russian fan who sat on the road outside the stadium with a friend to watch the livestream. “I’m currently on exchange at a Korean university and this is my first time coming to a BTS concert, although I’m technically not inside the venue. I still want to enjoy the mood.”
Meanwhile, for some fans who joined ARMY after the pandemic started, Thursday marked the first time for them to attend a BTS-related event. Kim Seon-ju, an office worker in her late 50s from Gimpo, Gyeonggi, said she came to the concert with her older sister Kim Seon-mi, a social worker in her 60s after they both became fans of BTS when they were struggling emotionally during the pandemic.
“After the pandemic broke out, there wasn’t much to be happy about,” she said. “We were stressed staying indoors and being unable to travel. That’s when we came across videos of BTS. The members’ funny personalities make us smile, and their songs have such beautiful lyrics that soothed us throughout the difficult times. As new fans, we’ve been waiting so long for an in-person event like this.”
As the concert neared its end, Jungkook shared his closing statement before presenting the final number, “Permission To Dance” (2021).
“After the concert dates were confirmed, I pondered for about two weeks on what to say at the end,” he said. “I thought about it before I went to bed, but I couldn’t fall asleep. I kept running simulations in my head because I wanted to say something cool. I just want to say we’re happy, and I hope we’ve given you a happy time. I hope we can continue singing happy songs. This is only the beginning!”
BTS is scheduled to have four offline concerts in Las Vegas on April 8, 9, 15 and 16.
BY HALEY YANG [firstname.lastname@example.org]