Tuesday was a bittersweet day for K-pop titan BTS. The seven-piece boy band staged the last leg of its “LOVE YOURSELF: SPEAK YOURSELF” world tour at Seoul’s Olympic Stadium, ending a year-long, globe-trotting journey. The tour that kicked off in August had an accumulated audience of more than 2 million people in 26 cities. “As I crooned my solo number ‘Epiphany,’ I was sorrowful since this was the last time to sing this song,” member Jin said. “But at the same time, I was delighted to mark an end. I promise BTS will return with a rocking concert.” Rapper Suga said: “Everything that has a beginning has an end. It is our final gig, but also a new start.” With the tour, BTS ― comprising RM, Suga, Jin, j-hope, Jimin, V and Jungkook ― created K-pop history. It became the first K-pop act to perform at Wembley Stadium in London and Citi Field in New York.
Now, all eyes are on the group’s next steps. The members vaguely hinted at fresh music during the three-hour performance, saying they would “come back soon.” The septet is reportedly poised to return early next year, after fan meetings in Japan. Then, what challenges should BTS tackle to make an even bigger splash in 2020? Probably one of the biggest missions is to reveal further its musical prowess. This could help the band get closer to its dream of going to the Grammys, one of the world’s most prestigious music awards, according to Billboard’s K-pop columnist Jeff Benjamin. “I want to see more interviews where BTS gets more credit as the artists,” Benjamin told The Korea Times in July. “Maybe this could help them in something like the Grammys. The Billboard Music Awards are based solely on numbers, statistics, and charts, but the Grammys is about artistic integrity, critical responses and the way the academy votes.” Some people say the band could reach another level if members further polish their vocal bravura. BTS has substantiated its artistic talent through multiple self-made tracks and jaw-dropping dance performances, but the members’ vocal abilities sometimes stirred debate online. The band’s live performance of its maudlin ballad “The Truth Untold” is one example. “I know BTS is not a vocal-focused group, but if it strives to develop vocal power, I think it will grow up even more,” an online user commented.
Another challenge BTS ― or its agency Big Hit Entertainment ― faces is the management of international fans. A legion of followers is speaking of their difficulties and Jennifer Teo, 49, is one of them. She is a Malaysian lawyer who has been in the BTS ARMY (the band’s global fan base) since 2017. Teo said foreign fans can buy tickets for BTS’s gigs on the “Global Interpark” website, which is in English but has problems. “The website cannot handle the huge volume of fans,” Teo told The Korea Times. “Even when I reached the page whereby there were some tickets available for purchase, the page froze and I had to try all over again. I tried so many hours but was not successful in the end.” She added: “To be honest, at times like these, I rather save time and stress by buying tickets from the secondary market. However, as a matter of respect for BTS and Big Hit’s measures to discourage such a practice, I won’t do that.” The lawyer said she hoped every foreign fan gets a chance to watch BTS live. She wished the ticketing process was easier and smoother. “Perhaps Big Hit could consider reserving a portion of the tickets for foreign fans and appoint a separate agent to handle foreign purchases,” she said.
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Nevertheless, the septet’s future seems dazzling, with all members exhibiting a willingness to improve themselves. “Frankly speaking, I am not fully content with my performance today,” lead vocalist Jungkook said during the concert. “But I am happy to see you relishing it. I will work enthusiastically to upgrade myself for our next release and concert so that I can emanate new energy to you. Thank you and I love you.” Big Hit has also been moving to provide better services to fans. Followers can order official BTS merchandise on the commerce platform “Weply” and get it on the concert day, instead of queuing in a long line to purchase it on the spot. They can also use the fan community “Weverse” to get a map of the concert site and check how long they have to wait to use different amenities. During a corporate briefing in August, Big Hit CEO Bang Si-hyuk also said he would enhance customer experience management.
Source: The Korea Times