|Members of K-pop group BTS, in the back row, pose at HYBE headquarters in Seoul, July 19, after being appointed as honorary ambassadors for Busan City's bid to host World Expo 2030. From left in the front row are Busan Mayor Park Heong-joon, Prime Minister Han Duck-soo, Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chairman Chey Tae-won and HYBE CEO Park Ji-won. Korea Times photo by Hong In-ki|
By Kim Rahn
Safety concerns are growing over the scheduled concert of K-pop titan BTS in Busan in October, as there are fears that a lack of necessary infrastructure and preparation at the concert venue may cause massive traffic congestion, inconveniences to the audience and even possible accidents.
On Aug. 24, the group's agency, Big Hit Music, and the Busan Metropolitan Government said the septet will hold the "BTS Yet to Come in Busan" concert on Oct. 15 for free to support the port city's bid to host the World Expo 2030 as the group is one of the Expo bid ambassadors.
For the audience of 100,000 members ― 50,000 for seats and 50,000 for standing room ― the city said it would set up a special concert venue at a former glass factory site near Ilgwang Beach.
However, this plan is worrying BTS fans and Busan residents because the location is the least ideal concert venue for such a large number of spectators.
|A notice about BTS' upcoming concert venue on Weverse / Screenshot from Weverse|
As the former factory site has remained an empty lot for years, there are no facilities adequate for a large public gathering there, such as eateries or restrooms.
Standing room for 50,000 people, which will be set up behind the 50,000 seats, will not have ticket numbers or sections, causing concerns that people may fall and get trampled on, resulting in injuries or even deaths, while trying to get a closer look at the stars.
Fans are also saying the food ban at the venue is unrealistic because the organizers plan to allow people to enter starting at 9 a.m. for the 6 p.m. concert to prevent congestion during entry ― which means those entering at 9 a.m. will not get any food until the show is over about 12 hours later.
All of these concerns are compounded by the already existing problems involving hotels and other accommodation providers charging extortionist prices. Accommodation owners in the city have hiked room prices by as much as 10 times or more. Many people are also complaining that hotels and motels unilaterally canceled their reservations and told customers to make new bookings at exorbitant prices.
|The poster for the "BTS Yet to Come in Busan" concert to be held on Oct. 15 / Courtesy of Big Hit Music|
Under the circumstances, fans and residents are calling on the Busan City to change the concert venue to a more accessible and more prepared site such as Busan Asiad Main Stadium, which can accommodate about 60,000 spectators. But the city government is insisting on the former factory site, saying it is the only place that allows 100,000 people and a large stage.
Online users are talking about the possible adverse effects of the well-intentioned concert.
"The purpose of the concert is to promote Busan as the host city of the Expo, right? But you are pushing ahead with the plan without considering safety and other issues. What a good effect the concert will bring!" an internet user wrote on Naver.
"The Busan government is organizing the event but if anything goes wrong, BTS will be blamed. This is not right," another online comment read.