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BTS fans flock to 2024 FESTA, celebrate boy band's 11th anniversary

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Fans of BTS, or ARMY, hold up photo cards of the boy band's members during the 2024 FESTA held to commemorate the K-pop juggernaut's 11th anniversary of their debut at Jamsil Sports Complex in Seoul's Songpa District, Thursday. Yonhap

Fans of BTS, or ARMY, hold up photo cards of the boy band's members during the 2024 FESTA held to commemorate the K-pop juggernaut's 11th anniversary of their debut at Jamsil Sports Complex in Seoul's Songpa District, Thursday. Yonhap

Jin makes public appearance at event after completing military service
By Pyo Kyung-min

Despite the scorching early summer heat, thousands of fans known as ARMY, the official name of the BTS fan group, gathered at Jamsil Sports Complex in Seoul's Songpa District on Thursday for the highly anticipated 2024 FESTA. The event celebrated BTS' 11th anniversary of their debut and marked the military discharge of Jin, the group's eldest member.

The venue buzzed with excitement early on Thursday morning as dedicated fans, dressed in purple clothes and accessories, filled the area. Fans from the United States, Japan, Europe, China and numerous other countries gathered, highlighting the global reach of the K-pop phenomenon's passionate fanbase.

Fans of BTS form a line to attend the 2024 FESTA held to commemorate the K-pop juggernaut's 11th anniversary of their debut at Jamsil Sports Complex in Seoul's Songpa District, Thursday. Yonhap

Fans of BTS form a line to attend the 2024 FESTA held to commemorate the K-pop juggernaut's 11th anniversary of their debut at Jamsil Sports Complex in Seoul's Songpa District, Thursday. Yonhap

Natalie, a woman in her 30s from Taiwan, shared that she had been waiting for three hours to attend the event.

"I traveled from Taiwan to Korea specifically for this event. This event is even more meaningful as it also commemorates Jin's discharge, so although I haven't experienced it yet, I'm eagerly looking forward to the event," she said, wearing an adorable light purple shirt.

Fans of BTS, or ARMY, participate in the Upcycling Parts Craft Booth at the 2024 FESTA held to commemorate the group's 11th anniversary of their debut at Jamsil Sports Complex in Seoul's Songpa District, Thursday. Yonhap

Fans of BTS, or ARMY, participate in the Upcycling Parts Craft Booth at the 2024 FESTA held to commemorate the group's 11th anniversary of their debut at Jamsil Sports Complex in Seoul's Songpa District, Thursday. Yonhap

The event offered a variety of festivities, featuring Upcycling Craft booths where fans could create unique upcycled plastic parts, a lively Play Zone with BTS-themed random souvenir vending machines and an exclusive ARMY Zone, offering commemorative gifts to members, providing fans with plenty to enjoy throughout the day.

BTS fans present at the event were all eager to soak up every moment of the meaningful event. Singing along to BTS' songs, taking photos together, and admiring each other's creative self-made merchandise, the fans were the ones who truly brought color to the celebrations.

Fans of BTS, or ARMY, carry BTS-themed umbrellas at the 2024 FESTA held to commemorate the group's 11th anniversary of their debut at Jamsil Sports Complex in Seoul's Songpa District, Thursday. Yonhap

Fans of BTS, or ARMY, carry BTS-themed umbrellas at the 2024 FESTA held to commemorate the group's 11th anniversary of their debut at Jamsil Sports Complex in Seoul's Songpa District, Thursday. Yonhap

Jennifer and Haaheo, both international exchange students studying in Korea, were thrilled to be part of this year's event, especially after missing out last year.

"I've been stanning BTS since 2016. Although the members couldn't be here due to military service, as long-time fans, we still feel connected to them. We just hope they stay safe. Events like this make the wait worthwhile," said Jennifer, a student from Nigeria.

Haaheo revealed that she got particularly lucky to attend Jin's fan meet-and-greet event in the afternoon. Completing his military service, Jin appeared later at the event to interact directly with fans through an officially arranged hug event and the Fan Meet-and-Greet.

"I still can't believe it; it feels surreal. Meeting Jin here is a dream come true, and I'm just so grateful I became a BTS fan," Haaheo said, blushing with excitement.

The annual FESTA commemorates BTS' debut on June 13, where ARMY fans from all around the world gather to celebrate. For the 10th anniversary last year, the entire Yeouido area of Seoul was bathed in a purple hue, the official color of BTS.

Pyo Kyung-min pzzang@ktimes.com


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