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JAKARTA: Delighted K-pop fans in Asia come together to celebrate and hope after the world’s top-selling group, BTS, returns to the stage in Seoul with their first show for a live South Korean audience in more than two years.

Thursday night’s “Permission to Dance on Stage” concert was the first of a three-day series, with more scheduled for Saturday and Sunday.

Tickets sold out within minutes, with 15,000 fans allowed to attend the first concert at the 70,000-seat Olympic Stadium in the South Korean capital – the biggest government-approved live show since the outbreak began. of COVID-19, as restrictions are still in place in the countryside.

The seven-member band’s first in-person show since the pandemic took place at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles in November.

“When I said you had to wait a bit, I meant a short time, but the period turned out to be two and a half years, so we felt sorry,” the boy band singer said, Suga, to the audience from the stage in Seoul. “It would have been nice to run around the room and meet you all in person, but the situation does not make it possible.”

During the show, fans had to wear face masks and could only applaud with excitement, as strict COVID-19 protocols did not allow them to shout, sing or dance.

“I really missed you and I’m really happy right now. Although we can’t see your faces right now, I hope we made your day,” BTS’s youngest member Jungkook said. .

The show was also streamed live for millions of BTS fans – known as ARMY – around the world.

For those who have been to Seoul Stadium and for those who have watched it on screens thousands of miles away, the return of BTS’s live broadcasts to home is a special moment.

“I think it’s very special for (the boys) and that’s why it’s special for me as ARMY. And I can’t wait…I’m really happy for ARMYs to watch it live. Dante, a 25-year-old fan in Jakarta, Indonesia, told Arab News.

Dante, who bought a ticket to watch the live broadcast of the band’s concert on Sunday, said she hopes BTS’ return to performing in their home country will be followed by a world tour.

Also known as Bangtan Sonyeondan, or “Bulletproof Boy Scouts,” the K-pop group debuted in 2013 and are now one of the highest-grossing artists in the music industry.

Their catchy and catchy songs have earned them tens of millions of followers around the world and last month the title of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry of the world’s best-selling artists for the second year in a row.

“Symbolically, the Seoul concerts feel like a giant celebration, as if pent-up emotion and energy are about to be released,” said Cedarbough Saeji, assistant professor of Korean and East Asian studies at the National University of Pusan, to Arab News.

The K-pop septet have thrived throughout the pandemic, releasing a string of hits and constantly interacting with their fandom on various online platforms.

“I think the pandemic has helped BTS reach more people than ever before,” Saeji said. “With all the clips uploaded and behind the scenes moments, V Lives (live sessions) and such, the fans grow to feel very close to the members.”

All the activity, she said, created a “parasocial relatedness.”

Saeji added, “Even though it’s an imaginary closeness, it feels so real and it can be emotionally very important to fans.”

Aparmita Das, a 27-year-old ARMY from Meghalaya in northeast India, said she “found strength and solace” in the BTS fandom.

“Beyond music, I have found a family of seven who understand me and help me through almost all of life’s difficulties,” she told Arab News.

Like Dante, Das could only watch the Seoul concerts online, but that doesn’t matter, she said.

“There is a belief in our fandom that there are no bad seats at BTS concerts,” she added.

“Whether you’re in the golden sound control barricades section or inside the four walls of your bedroom, the experience is ethereal.”

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