June 19, 2023
SEOUL – The color purple dominating everything is not a rare sight at a gathering for K-pop superband BTS and its fans, Army.
But what stood out the most on Saturday at the main event of the group’s 10th anniversary fete, “2023 BTS Festa,” held in Yeouido Hangang Park in Seoul was the diverse make up of the people who came, ranging widely in terms of race, age and gender.
The day-long event not only welcomed fans, but also families and residents of the city to mingle and enjoy the atmosphere. Exhibitions about the boy band’s global achievements were displayed on the “BTS History Wall,” along with event booths and photo zones such as “BTS Family Portrait” and “Bring The Song.”
Saturday’s event marked the highlight and finale of BTS’ two and a half weeks of festivities that had been ongoing since the end of May. “BTS Festa” is an annual celebration of the anniversary of the band’s debut on June 13, and this year, it was held in collaboration with the Seoul Metropolitan Government in honor of the septet’s milestone 10th anniversary.
Under the slogan, “BTS Presents Everywhere,” the group’s agency, Hybe, and Seoul city held a citywide project to decorate parts of the capital with attractions and events for fans to celebrate the band’s career.
Some 400,000 flocked to the riverside park in Seoul’s southwest on the last day of the festivities, according to Hybe, with 350,000 filling Hangang Park and 50,000 visiting the surrounding areas.
Safety guards lined the streets and emergency booths could be found at every corner. The sizzling-hot weather weighed on some fans, with a few experiencing exhaustion and receiving emergency care, but the event went off without major injuries.
Lara Harris, a 20-year-old BTS fan from the UK, said it was her first time taking part in an official event hosted by the company.
“In my country, there aren’t any official events so I’ve only been to fan-hosted ones,” said Harris, who has been supporting BTS since 2020. “Today, I’ve been strolling around the park, taking part in the events and listening to songs. I’m waiting for the fireworks right now.”
In the afternoon, BTS’ leader RM came to the scene for his live talk show, “It’s 5 PM and This is Kim Namjun.” RM’s real name is Kim Namjun.
Around 3,000 people watched the 90-minute show on-site and more joined in virtually from around the world via a Weverse live stream.
The first half of the program was devoted to presenting fans’ messages and their stories related to BTS. Phone calls were made with members Jungkook who was in Los Angeles and V. V had just come back from his trip to Spain and could not attend. RM also performed “Persona,” a solo track off one of BTS’ group albums.
In the second part, RM held quizzes about the group followed by another performance of his solo debut song, “Wild Flower.”
“Time has passed and so much has changed. I’ve also changed much. … I used to come to Yeouido Hangang Park a lot back in my trainee days. Never would I have known back then that I’d hold a Weverse live (event) for our 10th anniversary and meet you guys here,” the BTS rapper said.
“I don’t know what I’ll be doing or what kind of emotions will be going through me at our 15th and 20th anniversaries. But I am sure I will still be grateful to you and love you just the same. Thank you everyone for making all this possible,” he said.
Outside the show’s venue, fans who weren’t able to join were seen peeping over the fence, trying to record whatever snippets they could over the high bushes.
Mon Mon, a fan from Myanmar who came with two other BTS fans from Tajikistan, was among them as they arrived late.
“We went to the airport to see Taehyung (V’s real name) arrive, so we couldn’t make it in and will hear his voice from the outside. But that was good enough,” she said.
When the clock hit 8:30 p.m., the band’s music rang out even louder through the dark skies and the fans all looked up. The night’s grand finale event — a fireworks show — began.
“Hello, this is Jungkook of BTS,” a pre-recording of Jungkook narrating rang out over the cheers and chatter.
“We’ve been together for 10 years already. Year after year, spending time with Army, I can feel that even this hard summer is full of hope,” Jungkook said in the recording. “Since it is a special day, we’ll decorate our summer night with beautiful fireworks full of love and appreciation. I hope they reach everyone who supports us and make their day happier.”
What followed was an orchestration of colorful explosions breaking out to the beats of the band’s 13 hits. Kicking off the night was 2019 fan song “Mirokosmos,” followed by a magnificent flow through the septet’s most-loved anthems, including “Dynamite,” “Fire,” “Idol,” “Butter” and “Spring Day.”
Awed by the spectacle, fans sang along to the lyrics as the night sky lit up with the grandeur of the bursts of fire. Shapes of hearts, stars and planets lit up the sky in splashes of red, green, yellow and pink.
Closing out the night was the K-pop sensation’s latest release, “Take Two,” which came out on June 9. With the song, the band sent a message of promise to stay together for their next chapter in the journey.
Before the final set of fireworks, Jungkook’s voice could be heard playing again.
“We made the last song thinking of our 10 years of memories. Thank you for lighting up our dark and hollow night, just like these fireworks decorating the dark night sky. Shall we open our second chapter?”
“2023 BTS Festa” officially ended with the Saturday event but its signature purple light show, held at major landmark points around the city including Sebitseom, Namsan Seoul Tower, Dongdaemun Plaza and the World Cup Bridge, will continue until June 25.
BTS, consisting of members Jin, RM, J-Hope, Suga, Jimin, V and Jungkook, debuted under Big Hit Entertainment — now Hybe — in 2013. The seven members have gone on an official group break in June 2022 to focus on their individual careers and to carry out their mandatory military duties. The septet is expected to return as a group by as early as 2025.