Passions and ObsessionsVideo

When the heads parted for a good view of JK, I took in that magical moment

Between the BTS’ Busan concert, which I experienced, and now, here’s the rollercoaster of emotions for ARMY

In 'Yet to Come' in Busan, Oct. 15, 2022, (from left), V, Suga, Jin, Jungkook, RM, Jimin, and j-hope giving yet another epic performance (Photo by Nikko Dizon)

Jimin, who celebrated his birthday two days before the October 15 concert, leaving ARMY a most magical memory (Photo by Nikko Dizon)

j-hope and V’s explosive presence onstage (Photo by Nikko Dizon)

I write this exactly two weeks after musical juggernaut Bangtan Sonyeondan, popularly known as BTS, staged their concert in Busan, South Korea. It was their last show as a septet for a while, as we now know, because they will be fulfilling their military duty. They will regroup some time in 2025—less than 800 days away.

Between the concert and now, it’s been a rollercoaster of emotions for ARMY, as BTS’ fandom is known. We’re alternating between sadness and acceptance, coping with humor and laughter. We all dread that day in December when Jin, as the eldest BTS member, joins that other army.

Suga will follow shortly, as he turns 30—the maximum age for conscription in South Korea—on March 9 next year. We do not know yet the sequence of the rest of the members’ military enlistment.

But we do know a lot more now from Jin’s recent Weverse Live: that BTS had decided as early as two years ago that they would be enlisting in the military; that BE, released in late 2020, was supposed to be their last album before they went; that they stayed a bit longer to keep ARMY company during the pandemic with their wonderful songs; that they were hurt by the accusations that they were trying to dodge military enlistment; that they wanted so much to tell ARMY that they would be gone for a while, but decided that the best time to do so was after the Busan concert.

Busan Asiad Main stadium turning into a purple sea during BTS’ ‘Yet to Come’ in Busan concert Oct.15, 2022 (Photo by Nikko Dizon)

Which makes the Yet to Come in Busan concert extra special and truly memorable for all of us.

RM, Jin, Suga, j-hope, Jimin, V, and Jungkook put up a brave front that night, gave us an iconic performance, and simply asked us to trust them.

BTS staged the concert as part of their collective role as ambassadors for the city of Busan’s bid for the 2030 World Expo. But obviously, every bit of the show was for ARMY.

My sister and I were extremely lucky to have won tickets to the concert’s standing area at the Busan Asiad Main stadium. Two venues for live play events that streamed the concert real time were also set up, one along the Haeundae Beach and another in a Busan Port. The concert was also streamed on the Weverse app, which crashed on D-Day due to the volume of viewers.

Preparations to see BTS are always filled with excitement and anxiety. Every day, your prayer becomes a plea that nothing will thwart your moment with the boys.

BTS put up a brave front that night, gave us an iconic performance, and simply asked us to trust them

The fear was especially real in the pandemic. Before I left for Busan, I limited my face-to-face meet-ups to work, and wore double masks. There was a wave of relief among ARMY when South Korea announced that it was lifting its mandatory RT-PCR on arrival a week before the concert.

The author on the train to Busan with her BTS travel essentials,  purple Dynamite backpack and Jungkook-designed pink hoodie (Photo from Nikko Dizon)

The Busan concert was my first international trip since the COVID outbreak. After two years of staying home, I felt like a first-time traveler. I checked and double-checked my passport and visa.

The author (wearing Tata face mask) standing between her sister, Michelle (right), and friend, Daphne, in line for hours to claim tickets (Photo from Nikko Dizon)

It’s always hard to get BTS concert tickets, but perhaps a thousand times more difficult when the show is in South Korea. There are no suites in stadiums like the ones in the United States, where ARMY can comfortably watch the concert while enjoying their snacks and drinks. And as everyone now knows, the US’ Ticketmaster is a lot more tolerable than South Korea’s Interpark, which is tough to get into.

Big Hit Music’s lottery ticketing system was introduced in 2019 in an effort to eliminate unfair ticketing practices. Winning in the raffle means you get the chance to reserve a ticket and choose a seat. The Busan concert was free, so it meant being twice as lucky to win in the raffle.

Thousands of ARMY in snaking lines outside Busan Asiad Main stadium to claim their tickets—worth the hours spent in line, says the author. (Photo by Nikko Dizon)

When we got those precious tickets, it didn’t mean we just had to happily wait for concert day. There were steps we needed to follow to verify, confirm, and truly secure our tickets on Interpark. If you missed a step, you might inadvertently cancel your ticket.

‘I can’t find my ticket,’ I told my family…I thought I was going to drop to the floor. I am not exaggerating

I thought I had lost mine. It was the Sunday before my flight to Seoul with my mother. I was about to print the confirmation form (very old school, I know) when I couldn’t find it in my Interpark account.

“I can’t find my ticket,” I told my family while they watched a popular noontime show. My hands were cold and clammy, my stomach hurt, my knees felt so weak I thought I was going to drop to the floor. I am not exaggerating. This was 46-year-old me in distress that I might lose the chance to see BTS.

I called up my sister, who was in the US—woke her up, actually, to ask her to check her verification/confirmation form on Interpark. It was there, she said. So how did I lose mine?! I could hardly breathe.

My sister-in-law went to my laptop and navigated the Interpark site for me. “Here it is,” she calmly told me after just a minute or two. Sure enough, there it was, filed under tickets bought more than 15 days ago. We had verified our tickets in September. I had checked a different column. I hugged my sister-in-law tight and told her I now owe her my life.

The verification/confirmation form was your proof that you won a raffle ticket. It’s what you show the staff in the venue to claim your physical ticket with your name on it. The staff will match the name on the form and your valid ID (usually your passport) to the physical ticket before releasing it. Then they’ll put on your wrist band, another identification that you’re legit and allowed to enter the venue.

The Busan Asiad Main stadium, venue of BTS’ last epic concert before their military enlistment. (Photo by Nikko Dizon)

A fellow ARMY saw me holding my printed form just as we made our way to the stadium to finally get our tickets after hours of falling in line under the intense heat of the sun. “Do we need to print that out?!” she asked me, terrified. “Not really, as long as you have it on your phone,” I replied. “Oh thank God!” she said, relieved. We almost hugged each other.

The author, excited, in the ARMY sea entering the concert stadium

At this point, my sister and I had to go our separate ways to our standing sections—I in section G04, my sister in G05. We were told to fall in line according to our section and number. Then after a while, we were escorted by the staff to the gates. It wasn’t like this when I watched BTS’ Love Yourself: Speak Yourself finale concert in 2019. It was easier, more orderly, and faster to get to your seats at Jamsil.

Together we walked towards our area, and squealed when we realized we were standing in front of the side stage

I met a kind Japanese ARMY who reminded me to sync my phone with my light stick. Together we walked towards our area, and squealed when we realized we were standing in front of the side stage, right between the yellow bus from the No More Dream music video and the carousel in Spring Day.

There were several ARMYs in front of us, some much taller, but we were happy with our spot. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine I’d get to watch Bangtan Sonyeondan up close!

Finally, the moment came—the fireworks, the countdown, then silence. A collective “Huh?” from ARMY, then seconds later, the fireworks blast again and the opening bars to Mic Drop. We screamed our fan chant, waved our ARMY bombs, and there were our boys dancing their way to the stage.


In hindsight, now that we know the boys are enlisting, Mic Drop as opening song carried more impact. The song is widely believed to be a diss track for BTS’ haters. Since they debuted in 2013, BTS have proven themselves to be remarkably talented artists, filling their bags with trophies and accolades. And they’re not done yet.

After Mic Drop came an explosive debut performance of the highly-anticipated Run BTS. We all screamed because Run BTS is a fan favorite, a rock/hip-hop song in their anthology album, Proof. The lyrics encapsulate the band’s 10 years of hard work, passion, and teamwork to get to where they are now.

BTS’ stunning and synchronized choreography—to live singing—was mind-blowing. It was a testament to the boys’ high level of performance.

Here’s the thing about BTS: They just keep on getting better because they always set the bar high for themselves. They challenge themselves and keep learning. As a result, they gift their fans with stellar songs and exceptional shows.

The energy never wanes in a BTS concert, even when they slow things down to catch their breath, even when they sing ballads. It’s because the septet gives their whole heart and soul to the show. The way they connect to each other while performing, even during spiels and banter, shows an enthusiasm and love for what they are doing, for who they are. ARMYs are never shortchanged.

Yet to Come in Busan gave ARMY a gem of a setlist (see below), meticulously curated to tell the story of BTS’ journey to becoming one of the world’s most important artists. Having a live band that night made the concert an even more astounding musical experience.

I never thought I’d ever see BTS perform Ma City—with a live band—but I did get that chance in Busan.

BTS’ unparalleled concert productions always add to ARMY’s ultimate musical experience. (Photo by Nikko Dizon)

The concert production was expectedly outstanding. The attention to detail was incredible. It was just eloquent how, in the end of Epilogue: Young Forever, the boys walked to the center and stood close to each other. They gazed at ARMY around them and listened to us as we sang to them the chorus: “Forever we are young, even if you fall and get hurt, endlessly running towards the dream.”

It felt like the boys were taking it all in, knowing it would be their last concert for a while: the twinkle of the lightsticks, ARMY’s cheers, ARMY’s love.

BTS then sang For Youth, another ballad to ARMY, their best friend for the rest of their lives, the screens behind them turning into a reel of the boys’ black and white photos and videos through the years.

It is true: There is no bad seat in any BTS concert or show

It is true: There is no bad seat in any BTS concert or show.

If I had been sitting in the bleachers, I may not have seen the boys’ faces, but I would have been floored by the giant BTS logo screen that ran the videos and the AR (augmented reality) butterfly and whale that flew over the audience. I would’ve relished their choreography, too, how they moved onstage, because I would have had a full view.

I couldn’t see everything that happened at centerstage. But I saw the boys clearly whenever they ran to or had their blocking on my side of the stage.

I remember how Jimin laughed while he danced, and how Hobi and V jammed with each other. When the heads before me briefly parted and gave me a good view of JK, I decided to put down my phone to take in that magical moment.

Downpour of colorful confetti as BTS perform their hit song, ‘Boy with Luv’ (Photo by Nikko Dizon)

From where I stood, I also felt the heat from the fire flashing onstage, and the confetti rained on me.

It was announced that Yet to Come in Busan would run for 90 mins. But BTS gave us more than 120 minutes of a truly epic concert.

They ended the concert with Yet to Come, and ARMY held up their signs that told the boys, “The best moment is yet to come.” It was a promise BTS and ARMY made to each other that night.

BTS’ words had already bridged that day in Busan and 2025.

Jin and Jimin assured ARMY that this won’t be their last concert. V let out an adorable “Borahae,” which he himself had coined, which means “I purple you,” “I’ll love you till the end of days.” Hobi and RM asked us to trust and believe in them, whatever happens in the future.

“Let’s continue to run moving forward,” Jungkook said. And Suga promised BTS will be staying on for another 10, 20, or even 30 years. “Let’s grow old together,” he said.

The purple sea of lights will live on.

“Yet to Come in Busan” setlist:

Mic Drop
Save Me
Zero O’Clock
Butterfly prologue mix
BTS Cypher Pt. 3 Killer
Boy with Luv
Ma City
Epilogue: Young Forever
For Youth
Spring Day
Yet to Come

About author


Nikko Dizon worked as journalist specializing in security and political issues for nearly two decades. She is doing consultancy work during her time-off from journalism and remains immersed in the Korean Wave, in particular with BTS, actor Ji Chang Wook, and K-drama.

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