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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

‘I feel like I’m finally home’: BTS’s Jin greets fans after completing military service

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A nervous Jin stepped onto the stage as fans welcomed the BTS member with a thunderous roar shouting out his name, “Kim Seok-jin,” in rhythm with every stride he took into the spotlight.

“I’m shaking so much it feels like I’m debuting all over again,” Jin told the 4,000 fans present at his meet and greet on Thursday night in southern Seoul with a visibly tense demeanor unfitting for the member of K-pop’s biggest star BTS.

“ARMY, I’m back home — the home that I missed and missed so much,” Jin said, addressing the crowd by the name of BTS’s loyal fan club ARMY. “I feel like I can’t sing properly. My face is shaking and my hands are shaking. I’m shaking all over. I was discharged just yesterday so everything feels new.”

Jin of boy band BTS greets fans at the “Message from Jin: June 13 2024,?” get-together held at the Jamsil Indoor Arena in southern Seoul on June 13. [BIGHIT MUSIC]

Jin met with 4,000 fans at the “Message from Jin: June 13 2024,☀” meet and greet that began at 8 p.m. on Thursday as the grand finale of the 2024 Festa held to celebrate BTS’s 11th anniversary of debut.

Jin’s get-together took place only a day after he was discharged from his year and a half of military service on Wednesday, becoming the first of the seven members to return to civilian life. He was welcomed by his fellow bandmates who greeted Jin at the ROK Army 5th Infantry Division Recruit Training Center in Yeoncheon County, Gyeonggi, on Wednesday morning, with the BTS leader playing the band’s hit song “Dynamite” (2020) on his saxophone.

Jin of boy band BTS at the “Message from Jin: June 13 2024,?” get-together held at the Jamsil Indoor Arena in southern Seoul on June 13 [BIGHIT MUSIC]
Jin of boy band BTS at the “Message from Jin: June 13 2024,?” get-together held at the Jamsil Indoor Arena in southern Seoul on June 13 [BIGHIT MUSIC]

True to his words, obvious hints of nervousness were shown in between Jin’s usual humorous and casual manner through the awkward smiles that fans seemed to adore even more.

“I even had to sing with my eyes closed because I hadn’t been singing for the past year and six months so I forgot how to,” he said. Jin indeed had his eyes closed during his performance of “The Astronaut” (2022) to kick-start the event.

“Message from Jin” was themed around his solo single “The Astronaut” released in October 2022 before he began his military service. The whole venue was turned into a starry galaxy and the stage, the spaceship that the BTS singer traveled in to meet with the fans.

He was given “missions to settle back down to earth,” including mimicking popular online challenges and trying out new foods that were popular while he was in the military.

“Oh my god, this is so hard. Where are you guys? I miss you like crazy,” Jin said, referring to the other six members who are still completing their military services.

Boy band BTS member Jin's meet and greet “Message from Jin: June 13 2024,?” held at the Jamsil Indoor Arena in southern Seoul on June 13 [BIGHIT MUSIC]
Boy band BTS member Jin’s meet and greet “Message from Jin: June 13 2024,?” held at the Jamsil Indoor Arena in southern Seoul on June 13 [BIGHIT MUSIC]

In contrast to his modesty, Jin filled the hour with his strong yet strong voice that he sported through his solo songs “The Astronaut” along with “Super Tuna” (2021) and “Moon” (2020), as well as his iconic sense of humor and storytelling skills infamous among BTS fans.

This was the first time for Jin to perform “Super Tuna” live. It was released on Dec. 4, 2021, as part of his birthday celebration with only the first verse. Jin wrote the second verse just for Thursday’s occasion.

Jin’s meet and greet took place as part of the BTS annual anniversary event, Festa, that’s been held on June 13 each year to celebrate the septet’s debut.

Thursday’s Festa came as BTS celebrates the 11th anniversary of its grand career with the annual celebration featuring music, games and a love that filled a sports complex brimming with thousands of fans from all over the world.

“I started preparing for this event at the stroke of midnight yesterday,” he said. “The agency asked me what I wanted to do for June 13 and I said that I have to do this because the other members are here. However unprepared I may have been, I thank you so much for enjoying your time with me.”

Jin completes his military service and was discharged from the ROK Army 5th Infantry Division Recruit Training Center in Yeoncheon County, Gyeonggi at around 8:30 a.m. on June 12. [YONHAP]
Jin completes his military service and was discharged from the ROK Army 5th Infantry Division Recruit Training Center in Yeoncheon County, Gyeonggi at around 8:30 a.m. on June 12. [YONHAP]

Prior to Thursday evening’s event, Jin held a special session with 1,000 fans where he gave a warm hug to each and every one at the scene in a never-before-seen K-pop event. He wanted to make that number 3,000 but his agency narrowed it down in case of any safety hazards, according to a livestream Jin held on Wednesday.

“I’m sorry that this was all I could prepare because I had so little time. I promise you that I’ll do better the next time I’m discharged from the military,” he said, jokingly.

“But seeing you ARMY enjoy yourselves makes me realize that this is where I belong — I’m home.”

Starting with Jin, BTS members are expected to finish their military duties one by one to reunite by the end of June next year.

Next up will be J-Hope, set to be discharged on Oct. 17, followed by members RM and V on June 10, 2025, Jimin and Jungkook the next day on June 11, 2025 and Suga’s scheduled finish on June 21, 2025.

“Thank you for waiting for me all this time, so unwaveringly,” Jin said, closing off the hour-long event. “I promise to always stay by your side starting now and become your light. Thank you for watching and thank you for coming.”

BY YOON SO-YEON [yoon.soyeon@joongang.co.kr]