BTS virtual gig draws more than 100 million

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Fans of BTS tuned in to an online concert by the K-pop boyband on Saturday, holding their signature light sticks and sharing messages in a chatroom.

SEOUL • More than 100 million fans of BTS tuned in to an online concert by the K-pop boy band last Saturday, holding light sticks and sharing messages in a chatroom.

Titled Map Of The Soul ON:E, the virtual event came after the seven-member group scrapped their initial plan to hold an in-person show for a limited audience, in line with the South Korean government's tightened social distancing curbs. The band had already cancelled planned world tours.

As many as 114 million fans watched the gig, propelled by the success of Dynamite, BTS' first song entirely in English that topped the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart last month.

"You're not here but I feel you here, as if I can hear your chants, and next time let's really be here together," vocalist V, or Kim Tae-hyung, told fans.

Since their 2013 debut, BTS have spearheaded a global K-pop craze with upbeat music and dances, as well as lyrics and social campaigns aimed at empowering young people.

As the band performed, a background wall of small screens showed thousands of fans joining from across the world, many waving light sticks known as "army bombs". A chatroom was opened to allow fans to post comments simultaneously.

In Seoul, a small group gathered at a fan-run, BTS-themed cafe to watch the concert together, though wearing masks and keeping a distance from one another.

"Their songs gave comfort in these tough times and made me a fan," said Ms An Ji-won, 40, after breaking down in tears as she watched the show.

"They sing to say everything will be okay and to cheer up, which I think is why all fans around the world love them."


South Korean boy band BTS (above, in a picture taken in December last year) held an online concert last Saturday. PHOTO: REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 12, 2020, with the headline BTS virtual gig draws more than 100 million. Subscribe