BTS, dealing with unsure future, reunites for its final scheduled live performance


BUSAN — “BTS is back together on the stage! What else could I wish for?” mentioned Kim Ji-yeon, 23, who got here to see the Okay-pop supergroup’s live performance in her metropolis, Busan. For the previous 12 months, the faculty senior has been learning day and night time for civil service examination, even on weekends. “I had to skip my studies, because tonight might be the last opportunity for me to see BTS perform live,” she mentioned.

On Saturday, the septet reunited for its first live performance because the shock announcement in June that its members are taking a break to concentrate on their solo careers, which despatched shock waves throughout the band’s world fan base.

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“We were all crying when we announced that our activities as a group will stop and solo pursuits were to follow,” vocalist V advised the live performance goers. “And yet we are here having a concert as a group again,” he mentioned. His remarks had been met with collective “ah”s and “oh”s from disheartened followers, and his bandmates shortly intervened, saying that they don’t seem to be “stopping” however simply taking a while off.

The announcement in June got here because the deadline looped for a call on whether or not the band shall be granted an exemption from the nation’s obligatory army service. The band’s oldest member, Jin, faces potential conscription after turning 30 in December. “For now, this is our final scheduled concert,” Jin mentioned in an emotional voice.

The live performance, which was held free to help South Korea’s bid to host the 2030 World Expo in Busan, drew greater than 50,000 followers. Tens of hundreds extra followers, even with out tickets, gathered in numerous elements of Busan to observe the live performance livestreams on giant screens and snap pictures on the metropolis’s landmarks lit up in purple, the image coloration of BTS.

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Authorities mentioned the weekend occasions had been anticipated to draw some 100,000 home and worldwide guests to the southern port metropolis.

As the clock ticks for BTS to enlist, Busan officers are involved about shedding help for his or her expo bid from the world’s greatest boyband. Busan’s mayor even petitioned to the central authorities to excuse BTS from obligatory army service in order that the cultural juggernaut can proceed because the face of the bid.

Kim, the faculty scholar in Busan, mentioned she was not the expo bid initially, as she wished her metropolis to concentrate on long-term points reminiscent of youth unemployment fairly than the one-time occasion. Now, she mentioned, “I am just happy that the expo brought my favorite band to my city,” she mentioned.

The “ecstatic” cries from BTS fanatics interrupted what may have been a restful weekend for 73-year-old Yoon Jung-sil, who lives in an residence proper subsequent to Busan Asiad Main Stadium. She mentioned the live performance has been an “administrative trial” for her metropolis, citing site visitors jams and price-gouging within the hospitality sector. To stop the mega occasion from spiraling right into a logistical nightmare, Busan authorities flew drones for site visitors monitoring and dispatched inspection groups to lodges with extreme costs.

“I have not seen so many foreigners in my neighborhood,” Yoon mentioned. “Is it what the expo is going to look like in Busan?”

While some residents apprehensive the songs and cheers from the open-air stadium can be too loud, strains of followers tenting on the venue entrance hoped for precisely that, to hearken to the live performance from outdoors. “Even just hearing their voice from afar means a lot for me,” mentioned Janie Aquino, one of many determined followers who misplaced the “click-war” for tickets however nonetheless traveled to the venue — from the Philippines in her case.

Bujhoy Aguila, 40, who flew from Manila with Aquino, mentioned the band’s uplifting songs helped them get via the pandemic gloom. “BTS, they let me experience my second youth,” she mentioned, combating again tears.

As the superstars entertained the gang with their catchy tunes, emotional lyrics and finely coordinated dance strikes, fireworks burst within the night time sky above the stadium.

“Some say BTS is too old now,” mentioned Suga, the band’s rapper. The 29-year-old mentioned his near-decade-long profession because the group’s debut in 2013 “flashed before my eyes” whereas going via the live performance repertoire. “Let’s grow old together,” he advised cheering followers.


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