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BTS reunite to back South Korea’s bid to host World Expo 2030

BTS billboards in Tokyo. Their free concert drew about 52,000 people to a stadium in Busan

K-pop superstars BTS reunited on Saturday for a concert to support South Korea’s bid to host the World Expo 2030 in Busan.

The free concert – dubbed “BTS in BUSAN” – drew an audience of about 52,000 people to a stadium in the southern port city, according to the Yonhap News Agency.

In total, 100,000 fans were expected to visit for the concert, according to the city authorities. Thousands who could not get stadium spots watched the boyband perform live on large screens set up around Busan, which is more than 300km southeast of the capital Seoul.

BTS were named as official ambassadors for Busan’s World Expo bid in July. South Korea is one of four countries bidding for the 2030 event, along with Saudi Arabia, Italy and Ukraine.

The expo organising body Bureau International des Expositions is expected to name the host next year.

The hotly anticipated BTS concert followed the seven-member band’s announcement in June that they were taking a break to pursue solo projects, raising questions about their future.

BTS’ oldest member, Jin, is turning 30 next year and has to complete his military service. The country’s defence minister said in August that BTS might still be able to perform overseas while serving in the military.

Under a 2019 revision of the law, globally recognised K-pop stars are allowed to put off their service until the age of 30. In South Korea, all able-bodied men aged between 18 and 28 must complete military service, as part of efforts to defend against nuclear-armed North Korea.

“If the seven BTS members feel the same way and if you guys have faith in us, we will overcome whatever happens to us in the future and we will perform with you guys and make music. Please have faith in us,” BTS leader RM told fans during the concert.

The band made their debut in June 2013 and became a worldwide sensation. Last year, they became the first Asian band to win artist of the year at the American Music Awards. The group met President Joe Biden at the White House in May to discuss hate crimes against Asians.