(SEOUL) Seoul on Monday kicked off a week-long celebration to mark 10 years of K-pop group BTS, the first all-South Korean group to top the US and UK charts.
On Monday morning, fans of the group had gathered in front of the offices of its agency HYBE, whose facade was painted with a huge fresco of the seven young men who compose it, to take selfies or record videos. TikTok of the event.
Fans from all over the world – known as ARMY – made the trip for the occasion and the Seoul Municipality has set up a special program to welcome visitors.
“It’s exciting to be here. It’s exhilarating to be surrounded by other ARMYs,” Anne Micic, a 55-year-old scientist, told AFP.
“When you meet other ARMYs it’s almost like you have another family, it’s really awesome,” the Aussie fan continued.
BTS “saved my life,” Claudia Agustin, a 23-year-old Indonesian fan who works in accounting, told AFP in Seoul, adding that her words had helped her through difficult times in her life.
She said she was “really, really proud” of the ten years of the group and its seven members. “I know how hard they fought from their debut and then they really came through. Now everyone knows them,” she added.
BTS, which debuted on June 13, 2013, has popularized South Korean music across the globe, earning billions of dollars by building a global fan base.
The city of Seoul has released a special tourist map that shows 13 places to visit in the capital, including the HYBE office in Yongsan and the historic Gyeongbok Palace, where the septet filmed a special edition of The Tonight Show with Jimmy fallon.
Seoul tourist hotspots, such as Namsan Tower and Dongdaemun Design Plaza, will be lit up in purple, the color of the band’s fans, for the occasion.
A special set of stamps unveiled by Korea Post are already out of stock online, with the 120,000 available sets only taking three hours to disappear after they went on sale on May 22, an official told AFP. of the post office, saying he was surprised.
Fans will still be able to pick them up in person, however, as starting Tuesday, the band’s official debut anniversary date, around 80,000 stamps and other memorabilia will be available at all post offices.
The group, currently on hiatus since two of its members are doing their compulsory military service in South Korea, released a new single last week.
Take Two is the harbinger of a new chapter for the band after a prolific decade.
A handwritten letter from J-Hope, who began his military service in April, was posted on global fandom platform Weverse on Monday.
“I guess I will be very disciplined militarily” by the time the letter is revealed, the artist writes in this document.
“Whatever the day, I sincerely thank you and love you,” he wrote to his fans.
Those of the members who are not yet doing their military service are developing their solo careers during this time, a carefully planned strategy, experts believe.
“All male K-pop groups will have to take a break or transition due to mandatory military service in South Korea,” notes Billboard K-pop columnist Jeff Benjamin.
“But not all groups have adequately prepared like BTS, with pre-prepared music and meaningful content,” he told AFP.