BTS's mega-concert is causing big headaches in Busan
K-pop megaband BTS’s free concert in Busan is just a month away, and good luck trying to find an affordable hotel room.
The concert, called “BTS: Yet to Come in Busan,” will be held on Oct. 15 in the Busan Asiad Main Stadium. It is part of the city's bid to host the World Expo in 2030.
Initially, the concert was scheduled to be held on a makeshift seaside stage in the city’s Gijang County. Built on the site of a former glass factory of around 140,000 square meters (1.5 million square feet), it was expected to draw 100,000 fans.
But that venue was far from the city’s major gateways such as Busan Station and Gimhae International Airport. With 100,000 concertgoers, it might have taken more than eight hours just to transport all the fans, even if trains on the Donghae Line ran every five minutes. The concert hall appeared to have only one access gate, prompting crowd control worries.
HYBE, the label behind BTS, announced on Oct. 2 a change in venue to “create a pleasant and safe environment for audience members while not forgetting the main purpose of the event.”
The Asiad Main Stadium has 53,769 seats and 72 entry and exit points. In June 2019, BTS held a fan meeting/concert at the stadium and about 45,000 people showed up.
Say goodbye to the ambition of welcoming 100,000 fans.
“The concert is expected to accommodate around 50,000 people considering the stage space,” a Busan city official told the JoongAng Ilbo.
“The plan to invite 3,500 officials from the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) member states [which vote for the host countries of World Expos] is still valid, but we will discuss the number of invitees with HYBE,” the official said.
Hotel rates in nearby areas are in the stratosphere.
With the majority of rooms already booked, room rates for a one-night stay range from 300,000 won ($218) to 2 million won. Normally, they'd be 50,000 to 150,000 won.
“What fans worried about the most after the concert venue was hotel price gouging,” said Ms. Seo, a 37-year-old BTS fan who happens to live in Busan.
“BTS is holding a concert in good faith,” she added, “and many fans are worried whether our boys [in the band] will face criticism if trouble happens.”
With thousands of concertgoers from abroad expected to come to Busan, Covid-19 worries are also a factor.
The port city has seen a daily average of 3,000 to 4,000 new virus infections this month. During the four-day Chuseok harvest holiday, the number of new patients hovered around 1,500, which rose to 3,200 on Tuesday.
Health authorities have to worry whether the mega-sized BTS concert could cause a huge cluster.
The requirement to take a Covid-19 test before getting on a flight to Korea was lifted Sept. 3, although travelers must get a PCR test on the day they enter or on the following day.
“We plan to discuss public health measures with HYBE as soon as the number of foreigners, including the number of invited guests, is confirmed,” a city official said.
“Once the concert disaster planning is established, we will widely canvass opinions from experts and seek cooperation from related organizations such as airports if necessary," the official added.
BY KIM MIN-JU, SEO JI-EUN [email@example.com]