The significance of “Yet To Come” in Busan, BTS’ one-time free concert on October 15, 2022, has continued to expand in the days following the event. Big Hit Music announced this week that all BTS members will partake in mandatory South Korean military service over the next three years, making this likely the group’s last concert until 2025. As a result, “Yet To Come” represents many things to ARMY–a farewell, a promise, a political statement, and a declaration of the group’s purpose and identity–all while emphasizing the group’s international economic, social, and cultural dominance.
BTS defied expectations when the group announced their October concert shortly after establishing that their forthcoming music would focus on solo projects. ARMY was even more delighted that the concert would be free-of-charge, with almost 100,000 audience members in attendance. Hundreds of thousands entered the early fan club-only raffle in August, and even more crashed the Global Interpark server when general admission tickets were released in September. Many ARMYs traveled to Busan, participating in city-wide events that included BTS-themed hotel packages, sponsor booths outside the concert venue, and a special tribute at Busan’s Lotte World Adventure Theme Park.
While all of BTS’ recent performances have been spectacular, the level of intensity, ferocity, and purpose with which they attacked the opening of “Yet To Come” felt unmatched in recent performances. From the second they took the stage with MIC Drop, the group seemed filled with a new sense of clarity and energy. Perhaps enhanced by greater freedom in their creative endeavors and schedules over the past few months or by the knowledge that this might be their last performance together for the near future, the boys put on an unforgettable show.
The high production value of each aspect of the concert matched the members’ energy. New choreography for fan-favorite Run BTS drew particular crowd appeal and showcased their near-perfect synchronicity while allowing each member to express their individual style. The lights, pyrotechnics, and visual effects were also awe-inspiring, with the group incorporating drones into multiple numbers. Onstage, life-sized props from old music videos and performances, such as the carousel and train from Spring Day and the school bus from No More Dream and Yet To Come, provided ample space for the members to sit and stand while performing.
After finishing their opening sequence, BTS launched into older hits Run and Save Me before welcoming the audience. The group then proceeded to demonstrate the remarkable versatility of their discography. The vocal line’s deeply emotional performances of 00:00 (Zero O’Clock) and Butterfly (Prologue Mix) were filled with impressive belting and new live harmonies which showcased the technical talents of all four members and brought many audience members to tears.
The crowd was left with little time to recover, however, as the rap line launched into the group’s first live performance of UGH!, followed by their last-ever performance of Cypher Pt. 3 (as RM confirmed onstage). The lyrics? Timely. The performance? Impeccable and proof of BTS’ roots as a rap/hip hop collective. There were even fun additions to both songs, such as j-hope’s verse changes in Cypher Pt. 3 that reference his recent album Jack In The Box.
The group transitioned into an upbeat, brightly colored Dynamite, Boy With Luv, and Butter combination similar to the “Permission to Dance” concert series before briefly pausing to talk to the audience again. Introduced by “Busan’s princes,” Jimin and Jungkook, the group then launched into the highly anticipated Ma City that pays homage to Busan in the chorus before capping off the main set with Dope, Fire, and IDOL. An emotional Epilogue: Young Forever transferred seamlessly into For Youth, followed by an encore Spring Day and ending with the titular Yet To Come. During their ending speeches, RM and j-hope asked ARMY to trust them going forward, a seeming allusion to the next day’s announcement, and Jin announced the debut of his new single, The Astronaut.
Despite the event’s overall success, some of the early headlines about “Yet To Come” reflect larger geopolitical complexities in which BTS has become embroiled during recent years due to their success. Many worried that HYBE and BTS would shoulder the financial burden of putting on a free concert but receive the majority of public blame if Busan was not chosen for the World Expo. Additionally, Busan’s government failed to manage many logistical aspects of the concert for which they were responsible. Moreover, the Busan government’s petition to use BTS’ role as ambassadors to perform alternative military service also raised concerns about the potential for exploitation, though BTS themselves circumvented the situation by enlisting of their own accord.
These issues shed light on the larger push and pull that BTS has recently experienced both in Korea and internationally when it comes to military service and serving as cultural and economic ambassadors for Korea at large. Ultimately, “Yet To Come” demonstrates that BTS will do what they’ve always done: forge their own path despite the constraints, oppressive systems, and difficult circumstances surrounding them. A path that puts ARMY first and ensures that everyone knows why they’ve earned their success.
Written by: Mariko
Edited by: Cassie
Designed by: ThornToHisRose
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