After being fortunate enough to scavenge tickets in September at a PC bang (computer room with high speed internet), I was able to attend BTS’s Love Yourself finale concert on the first day of its 3 day run. BTS is the biggest boy group in the world and one of my favorite k-pop groups, so I was excited even though I had seen the show twice already when they brought the tour to Chicago in May 2019. The concert was held at Seoul Olympic Stadium. I attended on day 1, so the anticipation of what was to come was at an all time high as there were no precedents.
My friends and I arrived super early in the morning to buy our merch because we knew everything would sell out quickly. Even though we were able to pre-order and secure the items we wanted once we got close to the stadium, we still ended up waiting in line for over 3 hours to pick up our stuff. There were so many fans in attendance, some of whom won the raffle for floor seats, and it was awesome to see so many non-Koreans in addition to Koreans united under a common interest. Prior to the start of the concert, there were food trucks, photo booths, and music videos playing on large screens, like a big BTS themed festival. Everyone was friendly and in high spirits, some people even handing out freebies like banners and stickers to fellow fans. My friends had never attended a BTS concert before, so seeing their excitement reminded me of my first time. This BTS finale was a high profile event that so many other visiting/exchange students had been wanting to attend, so it felt like a privilege to have scored tickets. It was also my first time attending a stadium concert in Seoul, so that alone was also a new experience for me.
The show itself was much more professional and polished than it had been in the states, mostly because it was being filmed and live-streamed to fans around the world. We were provided exclusive BTS x FILA blankets to sit under in the cold. Everyone remained seated during the show unless prompted to stand by the boys, which is completely different from the shows I’ve attended in the states. I felt a bit more relaxed because of this, but also, it was a little less exciting. There were also restrictions on recording, even though many people found ways to sneak videos when staff wasn’t looking. The show was over in a flash, and that’s when it hit me that this really was the finale of the music era that helped catapult k-pop music to the States. This concert would never happen again, and I was able to witness the group that introduced me to Korean culture perform in front of a truly global audience for the first time in their home country. The whole idea of “Love Yourself” being the theme was admirable and unique, and no matter how exciting the show was, I was still grateful for being able to witness music history.