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I went to the opening concert of the BTS World Tour, and it was beyond anything I've seen before - and then I got kicked out

With tickets having sold out in seconds, I resorted to going online to find resale ones. They were of course selling for several times face value, but I thought to myself, “But this BTS,” and convinced myself to go.

With tickets having sold out in seconds, I resorted to going online to find resale ones. They were of course selling for several times face value, but I thought to myself, “But this BTS,” and convinced myself to go.

The plan was this: buy two tickets, and sell off the second to pay for the first. I received the first one after a day. But the second ticket never came. The vendor suddenly went silent and refused to return my messages or send my ticket. She then invented every excuse in the book: a funeral, no internet data, no text message credit, school, phone being confiscated by a teacher…

Considering I had all her private details, I told her I would report her to the police if she didn’t send it. Considering she was (probably) a high-school student, she freaked out and finally sent the ticket. I documented the whole saga here).

When I received the ticket, the next plan was the resell it. I was bombarded by private messages from BTS fans who posed as potential customers, and then told me if I didn’t give the ticket to them for cheaper, they’d report me to the police for scalping. For the record, ticket reselling online is entirely legal. It’s just that you cannot resell outside concert venues.

Eventually, I was able to sell the ticket for no profit, but was already curious as to how the concert would unfold.

"I'M REPORTING YOU TO POLICE AT 4PM. YOUR TICKET WILL BE CANCELLED AND YOU WILL BE FINED. OR you can give me the ticket for price between face value (100), up to 200 bucks ^^" Holy cow these people are scary, jealous, and nuts. pic.twitter.com/zUZyUFqz0P

— Raphael Rashid (@koryodynasty) August 22, 2018
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There was already euphoria in the air as I arrived at Sports Complex Station located in Jamsil, Seoul, early in the afternoon of August 25, the day of the opening gig for BTS’ “Love Yourself” World Tour. The station was packed, and the exit was decorated with a massive poster of BTS member Jungkook to celebrate his birthday on September 1.

There was already euphoria in the air as I arrived at Sports Complex Station located in Jamsil, Seoul, early in the afternoon of August 25, the day of the opening gig for BTS’ “Love Yourself” World Tour. The station was packed, and the exit was decorated with a massive poster of BTS member Jungkook to celebrate his birthday on September 1.

Note: These banners are paid for by BTS Army fans — not just in Korea but around the world.

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Outside the station, I literally could not move. The concert was going to take place at the Olympic Stadium located hundreds of meters in front of me. I’ve been to many concerts at this stadium including Lady Gaga, but cannot remember seeing this many people — and so early in the day.

Outside the station, I literally could not move. The concert was going to take place at the Olympic Stadium located hundreds of meters in front of me. I’ve been to many concerts at this stadium including Lady Gaga, but cannot remember seeing this many people — and so early in the day.
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Business was brisk for vendors selling unofficial merchandise. BTS fans were hurriedly grabbing whatever memorabilia they could. The cash was flowing.

Business was brisk for vendors selling unofficial merchandise. BTS fans were hurriedly grabbing whatever memorabilia they could. The cash was flowing.
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Take your pick: banners, postcards, badges, key rings...

Take your pick: banners, postcards, badges, key rings...
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Other vendors were busy making homemade merchandise on the spot. Something a little more unique, I guess. Badges, fans, hairbands...

Other vendors were busy making homemade merchandise on the spot. Something a little more unique, I guess. Badges, fans, hairbands...
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There’s no denying it: BTS is a global megahit. Some Koreans even say the Bangtan Boys are more successful outside Korea. Many non-Koreans, exchange students, and BTS tourists made it to Jamsil, even without tickets, which sold out in seconds. Here Salle and Samira from Germany were desperate for tickets, willing to fork out hundreds of dollars to get to see their favorite band.

There’s no denying it: BTS is a global megahit. Some Koreans even say the Bangtan Boys are more successful outside Korea. Many non-Koreans, exchange students, and BTS tourists made it to Jamsil, even without tickets, which sold out in seconds. Here Salle and Samira from Germany were desperate for tickets, willing to fork out hundreds of dollars to get to see their favorite band.
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In front of the Olympic Stadium, the crowds were getting slightly ridiculous, considering there were still four hours to go before the concert actually started. A massive photo wall panel was set up too, with fans flocking to all take selfies.

In front of the Olympic Stadium, the crowds were getting slightly ridiculous, considering there were still four hours to go before the concert actually started. A massive photo wall panel was set up too, with fans flocking to all take selfies.
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Striking a pose.

Striking a pose.
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Seriously, at one point I felt like there were more people outside than could fit inside the stadium. But like I said, this is BTS we are talking about. As I would later find out, fans for the next day’s concert had also come that day to partake in all of the day’s excitement.

Seriously, at one point I felt like there were more people outside than could fit inside the stadium. But like I said, this is BTS we are talking about. As I would later find out, fans for the next day’s concert had also come that day to partake in all of the day’s excitement.
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Wherever I looked, the place was filled with fans who had set up base outside. Some were practicing the lyrics to the group’s new single, “IDOL,” which had been released less than 24 hours prior. Others were applying makeup, and some were rummaging through their suitcases.

Wherever I looked, the place was filled with fans who had set up base outside. Some were practicing the lyrics to the group’s new single, “IDOL,” which had been released less than 24 hours prior. Others were applying makeup, and some were rummaging through their suitcases.
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The lines for the official merchandise were insane. Organizers had to transform a parking lot into a massive makeshift camping site. I asked around. Some had been waiting since morning, others since up to two nights before. Many had suitcases.

The lines for the official merchandise were insane. Organizers had to transform a parking lot into a massive makeshift camping site. I asked around. Some had been waiting since morning, others since up to two nights before. Many had suitcases.
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I kid you not: everyone had a suitcase. Hand luggage size. Jumbo size. Every size. At first I thought they were for clothes to camp outside. But then I found out...

I kid you not: everyone had a suitcase. Hand luggage size. Jumbo size. Every size. At first I thought they were for clothes to camp outside. But then I found out...
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...it was for merchandise! Loads of it. These fans from China showed me their treasure chest, full of stickers, banners, torch sticks and the likes. The price for the content of one suitcase? 1.2 million Korean won. That’s nearly $1,100. I couldn’t believe it, so I asked others around… but many admitted to having spent well over $1,000 on BTS goods.

...it was for merchandise! Loads of it. These fans from China showed me their treasure chest, full of stickers, banners, torch sticks and the likes. The price for the content of one suitcase? 1.2 million Korean won. That’s nearly $1,100. I couldn’t believe it, so I asked others around… but many admitted to having spent well over $1,000 on BTS goods.
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I admit, this took me by surprise: a tax-refund booth, and a post office tent. But considering the sheer amount of die-hard international fans that flew in just to see BTS, it sort of made sense. They spent hours, if not days, in line just to get hold of official merchandise, spending hundreds or thousands of dollars in the process. Duty free was actually a very clever move. The temporary international shipping post office booth was just the icing on the cake.

I admit, this took me by surprise: a tax-refund booth, and a post office tent. But considering the sheer amount of die-hard international fans that flew in just to see BTS, it sort of made sense. They spent hours, if not days, in line just to get hold of official merchandise, spending hundreds or thousands of dollars in the process. Duty free was actually a very clever move. The temporary international shipping post office booth was just the icing on the cake.
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Vans and buses were decorated with massive pictures of favorite band members. These were, of course, all funded by various BTS Army fan clubs. This van was decorated to celebrate the birthday of BTS member Jungkook.

Vans and buses were decorated with massive pictures of favorite band members. These were, of course, all funded by various BTS Army fan clubs. This van was decorated to celebrate the birthday of BTS member Jungkook.
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More suitcases.

More suitcases.
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And then an announcement was made to make our way into the stadium. I was quite excited to finally see the spectacle that is BTS. As I entered, I was handed a banner. It read, “We could believe because it was you. We could win because we were together.”

And then an announcement was made to make our way into the stadium. I was quite excited to finally see the spectacle that is BTS. As I entered, I was handed a banner. It read, “We could believe because it was you. We could win because we were together.”
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The stalls were packed. So many people. My seat was at the very top, last row, but I couldn’t complain: this was an opportunity to see BTS live, in flesh. Living in South Korea, it’s difficult to escape their music. They are huge. And nowadays, absolutely massive abroad, too.

The stalls were packed. So many people. My seat was at the very top, last row, but I couldn’t complain: this was an opportunity to see BTS live, in flesh. Living in South Korea, it’s difficult to escape their music. They are huge. And nowadays, absolutely massive abroad, too.
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The sun was setting over the Olympic Stadium. The excitement was growing. Ok, I think I was the only male in the audience, but yeah… five minutes to go!

The sun was setting over the Olympic Stadium. The excitement was growing. Ok, I think I was the only male in the audience, but yeah… five minutes to go!
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And suddenly the BTS boys came out. They performed their latest single “IDOL” which is literally taking the world by storm. The single debuted on YouTube and has already become the most successful video launch of all time. Stating a current figure of how many millions of views the video has is useless: the number just keeps growing.

And suddenly the BTS boys came out. They performed their latest single “IDOL” which is literally taking  the world by storm. The single debuted on YouTube and has already become the most successful video launch of all time. Stating a current figure of how many millions of views the video has is useless: the number just keeps growing.

Source: Business Insider

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Everyone was holding BTS lights, devices which can be paired to your seat number and will emit a specific color to form massive patterns across the stadium. Except I would not be able to see this spectacle, because I was booted out the stadium for taking several pictures using a small hand camera.

Everyone was holding BTS lights, devices which can be paired to your seat number and will emit a specific color to form massive patterns across the stadium. Except I would not be able to see this spectacle, because I was booted out the stadium for taking several pictures using a small hand camera.

The culprit? My Sony ILCE-5000. After all the hardships I’d been through to finally get hold of a ticket, I couldn't believe this was happening. I had openly taken a few photos. Then one fan-turned- concert staff came to me, grabbed my hand and said, “No camera. Only smartphone.” I told her I (genuinely) had no idea and was sorry, but she insisted for me to come with her downstairs. I assumed we were going to store my camera somewhere.

No. I was being kicked out. She took a marker pen and crossed out my ticket — essentially invalidating it. I pleaded with her that I really didn’t know that I was not allowed to take pictures: all the other fans had cameras and were taking pictures (high quality zoomed-in fan footage was subsequently uploaded on Facebook, Twitter and forums after the concert).

“You broke the rules. Out! Get out! Can you not read?” she said, showing me a poster on the wall which stated in small print that cameras were not permitted. OK, I made a mistake. But I wasn’t expecting the aggressiveness.

“This is a BTS concert —pictures have never been allowed,” she quipped, assuming that, had I been a true die-hard fan, I would have known the golden rules. “Get out! No refund! No re-entry!” she repeated, after which bouncers literally booted me out, and locked the gates behind me.

I was stunned. Aside from the financial loss, I couldn’t believe how aggressive and protective staff were. A million questions were going through my head. Was I really that stupid not to know? Why no cameras? Why me? Why not every other person in the stadium with a camera? Why no storage? Why the rule?

As I headed home, South Korean friends did little to console me. “This is K-pop — didn’t you know? We warned you this industry can be scary,” they said.

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Fans outside the stadium lined every exit to try get listen to the concert for free.

Fans outside the stadium lined every exit to try get listen to the concert for free.
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Oh and those light-sticks? This is what it would have looked like.

Rainbow in us! #AnswerIsHere #LoveYourself #LoveMyself pic.twitter.com/ohpQKQvtJO

— hitman (@hitmanb) August 25, 2018

And of course, more suitcases, waiting for the merchandise stalls to open the next day. The entire experience was exhausting to say the least.

And of course, more suitcases, waiting for the merchandise stalls to open the next day. The entire experience was exhausting to say the least.

The entire experience, from buying a ticket to being kicked out, made me realize how obsessive fans can be, how protective they are, and how controlled the world of K-pop really is. All of the staff at the concert were young fans themselves. Their policing was as strict and unforgiving as the army. They were the BTS Army. And then I realized I can never be one of them.

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