Approximately 55,000 fans packed into Asiad Stadium in the southeastern port city of Busan on Saturday (Oct. 15), creating havoc in South Korea’s second most populated city, to watch BTS‘ massive free “Yet to Come” concert. That number included thousands of the superstar K-pop group’s loyal fans, known as the ARMY, who wouldn’t get their hands on highly coveted free tickets to the 90-minute event.
BTS’ Jin, Suga, J-Hope, RM, Jimin, V, and Jungkook partnered with Weverse to livestream the festival-style show. During packed concert, the boy band delivered 20 songs, including popular tracks “Dynamite,” “Fire,” “Spring Day,” “Save ME” and “Yet to Come.”
At the height of all developments surrounding BTS is Jin, 29, the group’s eldest member who is expected to join the military service by the end of the year if no sudden amendments are made to the country’s compulsory draft legislation. In the midst of the political drama, and an announcement over the summer that the group would be taking a hiatus to pursue solo projects, BTS has taken on the role of being ambassador to the World Expo 2030, which Busan is hoping to host.
“This is three years worth of roaring and cheering for us. It’s been three years since we could scream at the top of our lungs for the boys,” Elle Kwak, who attended the show with two friends, told Billboard. “The concerts in Seoul earlier this year were quite underwhelming as it was tortuous to not be able to clap or make noise for the members on stage. We could see it was hard on the members as well.”
The three Permission to Dance on Stage – Seoul concerts, which took place in March, strictly prohibited any loud noise and clapping from the audience due to COVID-19 restrictions at the time.
Like many other fans who were also sitting on the ground or setting up base near the entrance gates, Kwak and her friends watched the show from their smartphones outside of the stadium, as they weren’t one of the lucky fans to grab a hold of a golden ticket. Instead, they came with blankets, warm coats and mufflers to withstand the chilly weather.
For fan Ash Hackworth, the concert reminded her of the time that BTS headlined London’s Wembley Stadium.
“Just like in 2019, this is a festival of the world coming together,” said the 32-year-old from Los Angeles. “The excitement is what brought me here, and it’s what will keep me dancing even from outside the stadium. It’s also special that this will be the last time to hear some songs being performed for the last time as RM mentioned in a live stream a couple of days ago.”
Regardless of the air of uncertainty surrounding the future of the group, Hackworth remains optimistic.
“I’m looking forward to the second stage of the group,” she said. “J-Hope’s solo rock album was awesome, so I can’t wait to hear all the other members’ solo projects.”
In a surprise announcement near the end of the event, Jin revealed that he would become the second member to release a solo project.
“I got the opportunity to work with someone I like, so a single will come out soon,” the singer said to screaming fans.
But others have expressed that they want more from BTS and, consequently, HYBE.
“What we really want is a world tour,” Kwak and her friends said. “It was the pandemic and then politics that got in the way of BTS touring the world. But we are always ready to follow them around the world if there ever is a plan to do that.”
And while the <Yet to Come> concert provides a long-awaited reconnection with the group, sentiments towards BTS being “used” remain on the minds of many fans.
“Almost every ARMY knows that even this concert is a way to use the members for a political cause,” Kwak said. “But the fans are staying calm and making sure there aren’t any troubles with the concert as we don’t want the members to face any more criticism, regardless of how bad Busan is managing all its guests and the venue sites.”
When it was originally announced in the summer that the concert would take place at Busan’s Ilgwang special stage, ARMY members were vocal in opposing the move after visiting the site and estimating the safety risks of holding a mega event at such a crowded area of the city. Local officials decided to change the venue to Asiad Stadium after many more complaints entered their office. And on Saturday, there was about a three hour delay in thousands of fans entering the stadium due to a mix-up of tickets.
But at the end of the day, there were more tears of happiness than of sadness. In the series of closing remarks by all seven members, there were several notions made about the will to continue group activities well into the later careers.
“I think we’re in a phase where we need your trust,” said J-Hope, who was first to open up about the future of the group during remarks.
“Although it’s so sad that the concert is ending already, it’s not like we only have today. We will continue for 30 years … and even perform when we are 70 years old”, Jimin said with a laugh.
For Asaka Inoue and her mother, this last part of the concert was what gave their trip from Tokyo a happy ending.
“I was a bit afraid that there would be a sad announcement during the concert, but I was relieved to hear how the members said they were committed to continue staying as a group,” said the 26-year-old, who took days off from work to travel to Busan for four days with her mother.
RM capped the night off with what every ARMY was hoping to hear from their “idols” all night long. “All seven members have the same thoughts right now. We will continue to make and perform music if you give us your trust, like Jimin said.”
Busan is one of four cities in the running to host the World Expo, a world’s fair proposed to take place in 2030. Other cities being considered are Rome; Odesa, Ukraine; and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The Bureau International des Expositions will vote on the winning host country next year.
In July, BTS were appointed honorary ambassadors for Busan’s World Expo 2030 bid. The band was chosen “because they understand the importance of the World Expo and share the same values,” according to a statement from BTS’ record label Big Hit.