July 16, 2024

Westside People

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BTS’s Jin will hug 1,000 fans upon his return from military service

BTS’s Jin will hug 1,000 fans upon his return from military service

Image source, Getty Images

Comment on the photo, Jin completed his 18-month military service on Wednesday

  • author, Fan Wang
  • Role, BBC News

Thousands of BTS fans will line up in Seoul on Thursday to hug Jin, who has returned to his role as a K-pop star after 18 months of military service.

The three-hour marathon is his first public event since being discharged from the army on Wednesday.

The 1,000 to be hugged were chosen through a drawing, although Jin said he suggested hugging up to 3,000 fans.

“I’m so happy now that I’m going to meet Jane,” says Ms. Park, who learned last weekend that she had won a place in Thursday’s Hogathon.

“I wasn’t expecting to win,” says the 32-year-old, who did not want to give her first name. “I couldn’t believe it, so I kept checking over and over again throughout the weekend.”

She said it “started to feel real” only when she started packing her bags to travel to the capital.

Jin, 31, the oldest member of the boy band, enlisted in December 2022. He worked as an assistant training instructor at a South Korean military training center, which requires service from all able-bodied men.

But others took Wednesday off to celebrate Jen’s return – fans are already eager for photos of their brief reunion on Wednesday.

The hug will be followed on Thursday by another event, with 3,000 others, where Jin will perform on-request songs and share messages with fans.

Vanessa Mae Leotrio, 25, was unlucky in the draw but made it to the second round – and flew in from the Philippines to attend.

“I cried [when I learned the result] “Since I prayed so hard for a winning spot,” she said. “It was definitely hard to win because I was up against thousands of ARMYs. [BTS fan group] Who wants to join?”

Comment on the photo, The other six members of BTS took Wednesday off to celebrate Jin’s return

On the other hand, Ms. Park looks excited and anxious.

“Hugging a thousand people for three hours is difficult even if Gene became fitter in the military,” she says.

She said many fans wanted HYBE, the band’s manager who is also behind the event, to invite fewer fans to hug. They also wanted them to screen attendees.

“Anyone can approach him pretending to be a fan,” Ms. Park says. “We fans are always concerned about the artist’s health and safety.”

The event also sparked backlash over its qualification rules, which required fans to join ARMY, which reportedly has more than 25 million members. They also had to purchase BTS albums from a dedicated website to enter the draw – the more albums they bought, the better their chances of being included.

Jin addressed the controversy in his live broadcast on Wednesday: “This is something that the company and I prepared in good faith, so please understand.”

For fans, Jin’s return is also the beginning of BTS’s comeback from a forced hiatus. But the question industry insiders are asking is whether the world’s most popular boy band can achieve the same success after a temporary hiatus?

“BTS will be seen as older,” says music critic Lim Hee-eun. But he doesn’t think it will necessarily hurt the band’s image.

“BTS has been active for over a decade. Not only will they attract new young fans who will find them edgy, but their existing fan base will go with them. They are aging with the group.”

Fans seem to agree. “I think there should be no problem between ARMY and BTS,” says 20-year-old Samantha, who did not win the chance to hug Jin but will attend the second part of Thursday’s event.

She has been following the band since she was 10 years old and doesn’t see that changing anytime soon: “I like their music, not their popularity.”