Dressed in colorful hanbok, 28 BTS fans shouted out loud “BTS, we love you” as they posed for a group photo at Changdeokgung in Seoul on Wednesday.
As members of the BTS fandom, Army, the fans from Australia are in South Korea as part of a special tour hosted by the Korea Tourism Organization to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the K-pop megastars' debut.
Under the name “BTS Road,” the tour will focus on following in BTS' footsteps, visiting locations that hold special significance for the band. The tour started on Monday and will last for about two weeks.
“The tour has been great so far. We are seeing BTS’ history, from seeing the old Big Hit Music building where they began from scratch to seeing where they are now. We even visited their old dormitory,” said Chelsea Goodwin, a 24-year-old Australian Army, who is on the tour with her father.
The ages of the BTS fans are broad, ranging from the youngest at 14-years-old to the eldest in their 70s.
Chelsea Goodwin first encountered the K-pop boy band in 2018 when she heard the song “Save Me.” She has since gone down the BTS rabbit hole, watching all the group's music videos and clips.
“I think I grew to like the group because not only was their music good but also they are very humble and give a lot back to their fans through various content,” said Chelsea Goodwin.
She influenced her father, Darrin Goodwin, to become an Army by making him watch such clips with her.
“We do a lot of BTS things together. We went to the Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas to see their performance last year. Seeing them perform live made me like them even more. My bias is Jungkook,” said the 52-years old Darrin Goodwin.
“We came to South Korea in time for their 10th anniversary because it’s a big milestone for them as, especially in their industry, they normally don’t get to the 10th anniversary. To celebrate what they have achieved is meaningful,” he added.
One of the admins of the BTS Army Australia, Barbara dela Pena, is also on the tour as she helped the KTO organize it.
“It would have been nice if BTS actually (could) have a concert for its 10th year, but with Jin and J-hope in the military, we know it's not possible. They are my favorite. It’s a bittersweet feeling being here, knowing I won’t be able to see them,” she said.
“Everyone is hoping that they will reunite in 2025. They mentioned it during their concert in Busan last year so we’re hoping that they reunite and hopefully embark on a world tour and come to Australia. We want BTS and Hybe to know that we are there, waiting for them.”
The BTS fans will also get the opportunity to enjoy the 2023 Weverse Con Festival, a K-pop concert hosted by Hybe, which will be held at the KSPO Dome in Seoul on June 10-11.
“As Australians’ interest in K-pop, K-drama and K-culture grows, their interest in tours around our country is also increasing. We will continue developing tour packages that can satisfy the traveling needs of Australians to host around 10 million tourists a year,” said Lee Jae-hwan, the vice president of the KTO.