South Korean boy band BTS at the 2019 Seoul Music Awards on 15 January 2019 / TenAsia / Wikimedia / CC BY 3.0
“Love is nothing stronger than a boy with love,” sing the vocalists of international South Korean pop (K-pop) group BTS in their record-breaking song “Boy With Luv.” Fans all over the world want to hear them sing these lines live.
But it’s not easy.
Bangtan Sonyeondan, or BTS, released “Boy With Luv” in April of last year to their fans all over the world. Their fans, known as ARMY, helped the group reach about 74.6 million views on the “Boy With Luv” music video within the first 24 hours of release. “Boy With Luv” and the rest of the “Map of the Soul: Persona” album expanded their international fame, especially through their collaboration with American singer Halsey on “Boy With Luv.”
Their new album (“Map of the Soul: 7”), which they released on Feb. 21, 2020, continues the “Map of the Soul: Persona” album, and it includes title songs “Black Swan” and “ON.”
These albums will be showcased globally during their “Map of the Soul” tour, which was announced on Jan. 21, 2020. With this tour, BTS will be able to reach more worldwide fans. Bay Area fans also have a reason to be excited; they are coming to Santa Clara, California, on April 25 and April 26 to perform at Levi’s Stadium.
However, securing tickets was a struggle for most fans, as past BTS concerts have sold out within 20 minutes, according to Billboard. Fans, or ARMY, everywhere rushed to buy tickets to the “Map of the Soul” concerts once sales opened. Among these fans is freshman Sanjna Sood, who was able to get tickets to the Levi’s Stadium concert.
“I think this tour is a big deal because this is the last time all of the members will be together, but I think the group will still promote well even after they lose members,” Sood said.
BTS losing some of their members is not by choice; males between the ages of 19 and 28 in South Korea are required to conscript into the military for one to two years. According to CNN, South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense will excuse no one, not even K-pop idols like BTS. The oldest member, Jin, is 27 years old and will be turning 28 this December. The “Map of the Soul” tour will likely be one of the last upon which he goes with BTS before joining the army. However, Sood believes the group will live on.
“BTS was one of the biggest groups that opened up K-pop to international fans. K-pop has grown a lot because of BTS’ popularity, which is really cool because they have concerts everywhere now,” Sood said.
Though many K-pop groups reach internationally, BTS is the most popular, according to Billboard. Because of this, fans were, and still are, anxious to get tickets to their upcoming “Map of the Soul” tour. Unlike Sood, sophomore Catherine Chen believes Jin’s absence will affect BTS and ARMY.
“We all know that Jin is going to be first to enlist, and since the group is really close, if any of them leaves, then the group activities will probably be postponed. I think that’s why a lot of fans are more eager to watch any of their shows while they can right now, while BTS is still together as a group,” Chen said.
Though Chen was also eager to get tickets, she was not able to, as the prices of BTS’ concerts have shot up, and tickets to the Levi’s Stadium concert have reached up to $2,000.
“The tickets are getting too expensive. It’s getting harder and harder to be a fan of BTS,” Chen said.
Nina Chung, a senior and leader of Carlmont’s Korean Club, also believes BTS concert tickets are rising to ridiculous prices. However, she appreciates the publicity BTS has given to South Korea.
“The Bay Area has predominantly White or Chinese neighborhoods. There are barely any Koreans here, and by having their concert in this area, BTS helps people understand the Korean culture and understand the fun of K-pop,” Chung said.
K-pop, in general, has expanded in America over the past couple of years, and though going to concerts may not be an option for everybody, being part of different groups’ fandoms comes free. Although it can be heartbreaking not to be able to see BTS or other groups live, showing support to a K-pop group comes in many forms, such as streaming their music. Attending their concerts is just one option.
“If, like me, you can’t go to BTS’ concert in April, don’t be sad. There’s always next time, but be sure to continue to show your support by watching their updates and videos,” Chen said.