(Big Hit Music)
The ground surrounding Jamsil Olympic Stadium in southern Seoul was still empty Wednesday afternoon, a day before a long-awaited concert for K-pop sensation BTS. Faintly ringing out around the venue was the group’s song “On” as the last day of rehearsals took place beyond the closed doors.
Less than 24 hours later, the entire area will be bustling with tens of thousands of fans, as BTS kicks off its three-day entertainment series, “BTS Permission to Dance On Stage – Seoul.” The event continues over the weekend.
While the seven bandmates have had their fair share of concert extravagances, Thursday’s gig holds meaning like no other, as it will mark the band’s reunion with their fans, referred to as “Army,” in person and in their home country for the first time in nearly 2 1/2 years.
At the exact venue where that last hosted their world tour in October 2019, the main Olympic Stadium, the band is finally fulfilling their biggest wish for the New Year: to perform in front of local fans.
“We’ve imagined meeting our Korean fans hundreds and hundreds of times in the past two years and the moment is finally nearing. We’re just so overwhelmed right now that we don’t know how to express our emotion in words,” the bandmates said in a recent online broadcast.
The upcoming concerts will be a part of the band’s most recent tour, “Permission to Dance On Stage,” themed around the band’s most recent English-language single, “Permission to Dance.” Kicking off with a virtual-only concert in October, the band took the series to Los Angeles the next month to hold their first in-person concerts in about two years.
“BTS wanted this concert to be focused more than anything on their actual engagement with the fans as it is their time after 2 1/2 years coming face-to-face with fans in Seoul,” said the executive director of the upcoming concerts, Ha Jung-jae.
(Big Hit Music)
Just as with their LA gigs, the Seoul concerts will be packed with performances with only the seven members together, rather than solo and unit sessions as in usual world tours.
“If we’d planned the set lists mostly according to the albums in the past, this time, we had all possibilities open. We put all BTS songs on the table and discussed with the members to pick out songs never before performed live in person, songs the members wish to introduce to fans and songs they think fans will be anticipating,” Ha explained.
Ha added that the Seoul shows will include songs not performed in LA and that the three days will each showcase variations in the set list to make sure fans take home a one-and-only live musical experience every night.
The band will also install a massive LED screen -- the biggest ever used in the band’s concerts -- introduced for previous editions of the “PTD on Stage” tour. The screen will not only deliver the performances vividly to the audience of the 70,000-capacity outdoor stadium, but will also come with more variations in the LED designs this time to provide a more dynamic visual experience, the agency said.
Fans around the world will also be invited to the Seoul edition through livestreaming video on the first and last days. Saturday’s concert will be available live at movie theaters around the world. In South Korea, some 36,000 tickets for the remote live viewing quickly sold out.
(Big Hit Music)
While Big Hit Music did not reveal the exact number of tickets sold, around 45,000 will be attending the three concerts in total, given that the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism allowed the group to invite 15,000 spectators for each day to provide some physical distancing amid the ongoing concerns of coronavirus spread. This will be the largest in-person concert in Korea to take place since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in January 2020.
Meanwhile, the Seoul concert will be BTS’ first official event of 2022, as the bandmates end a long vacation that started Dec. 6, 2021.
In April, BTS will continue the “PTD On Stage” tour in Las Vegas, throwing four shows at Allegiant Stadium on April 8-9 and 15-16, with all shows up for live viewing on a big screen at nearby MGM Grand Garden Arena. The April 16 show will also be livestreamed online.
Ahead of their Las Vegas concerts, the band will visit the MGM Grand Garden in April to attend the ceremony of the 64th Grammy Awards. BTS has been nominated for best pop duo or group performance at the Grammy Awards for the 2021 megahit single “Butter.”
By Choi Ji-won (email@example.com