Ten years ago today, at southern Seoul’s modest event venue Ilchi Art Hall, seven young boys clad in gold-and-black streetwear took their first steps on stage with the fiercest hip-hop face they could pull off to hide their half-worried, half-excited emotions.
Introducing themselves as the “Bulletproof Boys,” the seven newbies — now known as BTS, one of the biggest stars of 21st-century global pop music — humbly asked the crowd to watch them as they try their very best and receive a Rookie of the Year award.
“It took us three years to prepare for our debut,” members said in a showcase held on June 12, 2013, a day before the official debut set for the next day. “We’ll show you everything we’ve got.”
And everything they indeed showed. Not only did they prove themselves, but they changed the whole country’s belief in the power of culture.
The band has placed more than 40 songs — including its own songs, songs it’s been featured in and the music from individual members — on the Billboard music charts since it landed “DNA” on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in 2017.
The band became the first K-pop act to be nominated for a Grammy in 2021, and it has sold 42.8 million albums altogether since its debut as of March.
BTS stuck through a modest debut, which was met more with ridicule than welcome from the public at first, which is common for a band with unorthodox names.
From holding a late-night meet and greet with a crowd of around 30 fans outside a closed record shop to becoming the first-ever K-pop boy band to headline the biggest music venues around the world, BTS eventually succeeded to the point where it elevated not only its own reputation but also those of K-pop and the Korean music market.
Korea’s capital city blushed in bright hues of purple on Monday to celebrate the 10th anniversary of BTS, which falls on June
13 for a two-week festivity titled the “2023 BTS Festa.”
The event kicked off with media artwork donning 11 different locations in Seoul, held as a collaboration between BTS’s agency HYBE and the Seoul Metropolitan Government to honor the record-breaking achievements by the septet over the last decade.
Eleven locations have been lighted with violet, the band’s official color since 2016 after the last color of the rainbow, symbolizing the band’s wish to stay with the fan club ARMY “for as long as possible.”
Purple has since been used to symbolize both the group and ARMY, and major cities have lighted their buildings in purple to welcome BTS when it visits for its performances.
The 11 spots are spread out across Seoul.
In central Seoul, HYBE headquarters will be decorated with the “2023 BTS Festa” slogan from Monday to June 30 and graffiti drawings of BTS members’ portraits from Saturday to June 30. The Namsan Seoul Tower will be lighted in purple from Monday to June 25, accompanied by a media façade work on Tuesday and Saturday. The Gwanghwamun Square and the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts will show media artwork from Tuesday to June 25. The Seoul City Hall will be lighted in purple from Tuesday to June 25, with the exception of June 19. The Dongdaemun Design Plaza will be beamed with the Festa logo and purple lights from Monday to June 25.
In southern Seoul, the Some Sevit — the Sevit islets at Banpo Han River Park — will be lighted in purple from Monday to June 25, along with a media façade from Tuesday to June 25, and the outside wall of the Lotte World Tower will be lighted purple from Monday to June 25 for 10 minutes at 8 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Four Han River bridges — the Banpo Bridge, the World Cup Bridge, the Yanghwa Bridge and the Yeongdong Bridge — will turn purple from Monday to June 25 evening from sunset, ending at slightly different times.
The grand finale will take place on Saturday in southern Seoul’s Yeouido Han River Park. Exhibitions will be held in the afternoon, followed by a talk session with the group’s leader RM at 5 p.m., which will also be streamed live through Weverse fan community service. A special fireworks show will start at 8:30 p.m. at the park.
BY SO-YEON YOON [firstname.lastname@example.org]