“We have been here since 3 a.m.”: the dedication of ARMYs during the BTS K-Selection Festa
Fans of K-pop boy band BTS attend the 'BTS Festa' in Seoul on June 13, 2024, a day after band member Jin was discharged from his South Korean military service, the first member of the band to complete the mandatory duty, freeing him up to fully resume musical activities. (Photo by ANTHONY WALLACE / AFP)/2024-06-13 13:06:46/
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“We’ve been here since 3 a.m.”: ARMYs’ dedication at BTS Festa

Fans invaded the sports park at Seoul Sports Complex in the south of the capital around 13 a.m. on June 11 for Festa 2024, an event celebrating the 11th anniversary of popular boy band BTS.

“I've been waiting here since midnight,” said Jo A-reum, 34, who was first in line for BTS' annual event. The sports complex was already filled with thousands of eager fans on Thursday morning.

Jo was the first of many fans to queue hours before the event officially started at 11 a.m. to receive the limited merchandise package, distributed to members of BTS fan club ARMY based on the first arrived, first served.

“We have been waiting in line since 3 a.m.,” said Satou Jikako, 54, who came with three friends for Festa 2024. “We arrived at the airport at 22 p.m., dropped off our luggage at the hotel, then came straight here, knowing other fans would arrive early. »

“We have been here since 3 a.m.”: the dedication of ARMYs during the BTS K-Selection Festa

Jikako and Jo, along with hundreds of other fans who had received a package, quickly opened their boxes to check which member photo cards they had received, in order to exchange them with those of their favorite members. The package included a BTS lanyard, postcard and photo cards.

As soon as the clock struck 11, the sports park was filled with fans shouting, "Anybody got Jimin?" », “Who has Jin? », enthusiastic voices resounding everywhere.

Thursday's Festa celebrated BTS' 11-year career with musical activities, games and overflowing love from fans around the world. Experience booths set up by BTS's agency, HYBE, filled the sports park with photo booths, photo zones, bracelet or badge making workshops, merchandise sales, and more.

“We would have come earlier if we had known there would be so many people,” said Yukie, 66, who came from Japan and had waited since 9 a.m. “We knew there would be a lot of people, but not this many! »

“We have been here since 3 a.m.”: the dedication of ARMYs during the BTS K-Selection Festa

Yukie was standing in line with five other friends she met last year at a BTS fan group in Tokyo. Everyone wore pink T-shirts designed by Takumi, 62, a member of the group, emblazoned with the message “Welcome back!” Jin. »

“I’m so happy he’s back — I’ve been looking forward to this day,” Setsuko, 58, said. “I love Jin, but we are all united by our love for BTS. »

A large digital screen greeted fans with images of handwritten letters from the absent BTS members. “I really want to hear the ARMY roar,” Jungkook wrote. “I want to make good music again. I miss you so much. It won't be long before I'm standing in front of you again, if I'm having fun, right? »

“We have been here since 3 a.m.”: the dedication of ARMYs during the BTS K-Selection Festa

Jimin also wrote, “I'm fine here, don't worry about me and enjoy your time with Jin. We will come back one by one. I can't wait to get together with everyone. »

But Jin was the man of the hour on Thursday. Having completed his mandatory service on Wednesday, he was the first of the seven members to return to civilian life, welcomed by his comrades at the ROK Army's 5th Infantry Division training center in Yeoncheon, Gyeonggi, with RM playing “Dynamite” on the saxophone.

Around 100 journalists were there to capture the moment, but few fans were allowed in for security reasons. In contrast, fans gathered in front of HYBE's headquarters in Yongsan, Seoul, decorated with the phrase "Apobangpo" meaning "ARMY forever, BTS forever" in Korean.

Some 1000 fans filled the streets, while 900 fans logged on to community app Weverse to watch Jin's first solo live performance in a year and a half, bringing together viewers from 000 countries, according to HYBE.

“We have been here since 3 a.m.”: the dedication of ARMYs during the BTS K-Selection Festa

Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon congratulated Jin on Facebook: “I'm glad to hear that BTS' eldest member Jin is back. Service under the flag is mandatory for all able-bodied Korean men, but seeing seven artists loved around the world take a break was sad. We applaud you for fulfilling your duties without privileges and being an exemplary role model. »

Jin will hold a special meet-and-greet with 1 fans at 000 p.m. for a never-before-seen "free hug" event in K-pop, initially hoping to accommodate 15, but the agency reduced that number for security reasons. A larger meeting with 3 fans will take place at 000 p.m. at the Jamsil Indoor Arena.

BTS members are expected to complete their mandatory service one by one by June 2025, starting with J-Hope on October 17, followed by RM and V on June 10, 2025, Jimin and Jungkook on June 11, 2025, and Suga on June 21 2025.

This year's Festa also included a "Bang Bang Con" online video showing BTS' live performances. Last year, eleven venues in Seoul were decorated with lights and artwork in collaboration with HYBE and the Seoul Metropolitan Government to honor the group's record-breaking achievements over the past decade.

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Missselfy7800
@Purpleyou

It's fabulous, I really wish I was there. Jin is finally back!! We cried with sadness when they all passed away and now we can cry with joy and celebrate with them. Borahae BTS

Alice

I would have done the same love bts

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