A City Glowing Purple_ The Significance of BTS' 10th Anniversary > K-POP

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A City Glowing Purple_ The Significance of BTS' 10th Anniversary

  • Name : korea
  • Date : 2023-06-26 09:25:06

On the night of June 17th, I was strolling through the grounds of Cheong Wa Dae—the former 

South Korean presidential house—when pink and purple fireworks lit up the sky. From the hill 




I was struck by the contrast between the palace of traditional Korean architecture on one side, 

and the modern, expansive cityscape on the other. A palace built on a site symbolizing Korean 

history and a bustling city lit up in colors symbolizing BTS were staring each other in the face, in 

an endless stand-off, engaging in silent dialogue. What did they have to say to each other?


I pondered this question as I took in the sight of Seoul. The efficacy and elegance with which 

the city as a whole banded together—BTS in collaboration with the Seoul city government—to 

throw the 2023 BTS Festa was admirable. 


Starting on June 12th, major landmarks throughout Seoul—such as the Lotte World Tower, 

Dongdaemun Design Plaza, Namsan Tower, Banpo Bridge, and many others—lit up in purple, 

to celebrate BTS. Hundreds of thousands of fans came from all over the world to partake in the 

festivities and visit the sites. 



The main event of the two-week long Festa took place on June 17th, and consisted of a festival 

at Yeouido Hangang Park ending with a fireworks show in the evening.

Watching from a quiet garden above, a cynical part of me wondered what it was all for. Was 


BTS’ impact so great that their anniversary demanded that the entirety of Seoul, and millions of 

people worldwide, rejoice? Or was the main objective of it all really just to make revenue?


To investigate, I visited many of the relevant landmarks myself, and spoke with foreign fans who 

traveled to Seoul solely for the BTS Festa. 


I went to the HYBE headquarters, where fans gathered together to admire the newly-installed 

BTS mural. I myself was moved by the mural: its grandness and beauty, the quiet dignity behind 

the painted eyes.


“Honestly, they mean the world to me,” said Nazia, a fan from Bangladesh. “I went through 

many hardships, and they are the ones who saved me. They are the most important thing to 

me. Even now, I—” She turned away, smiling but covering her eyes. “I’m gonna cry.”


When I asked her why she thought BTS’ 10th anniversary was being celebrated to such an 

extent, she said, simply, “BTS are South Korea’s pride.” 



A fan from Spain named Andrea added that, despite BTS’ international growth, “they have never 

lost their identity,” and they always promote their country and culture. 


“I feel, I think, and I wanna believe,” Andrea said, “that the city knows how important what BTS 

does is, and that’s why they celebrate. And people will come—even with one month in advance 

notice, people came from all around the world.”d09b8fe8811498a5e76ffe6fe6930fda_1687738 


“Yes, there have been other artists that have had a big influential impact in other countries,” said 

Andrea’s friend, María. “But BTS has been massive. Really massive. I believe the Korean Wave 

that they have promoted is something that has never been seen before.”


After speaking with many fans, and asking them what events and places they were visiting while 

in Seoul, I realized that the places fans were most excited to see were those significant to BTS’ 

history: the neighborhood BTS used to live in years ago as trainees, and the original Big Hit 

building where everything began. They spoke about BTS’ beginnings, the hardships and 

memories involved, and what it would mean for them to be able to visit.



A fan named Arwen, from France, said “It’ll be very significant for me to go to the old Big Hit 

building. It is my dream to be there. Fans write messages on the wall—I want to write on the 

wall and leave my mark.”


Some fans spoke of the more material aspects of the BTS Festa—the promotional events with 

partner companies, the merchandise, products—but it was clear this wasn’t the objective of the 

celebration for them.


María, who has been a fan of BTS since 2014, stated: “I have gone to so many other K-Pop 

concerts and events, and they have never been as thoughtful as BTS has been ever since I’ve 

known them. So of course—it’s a business, and they want to make money, but I do believe 

that’s not the main point.”


My conversations with the fans made me realize the meaning and authenticity behind BTS’ 

celebrations. In one afternoon, at the site of the mural, I saw the impact they’ve had on the 

world. I realized that this festival is about more than just the K-Pop industry making money.


Art is meant to move, and millions of people across the globe are moved by BTS’ music, 

message, and journey. An entire city was moved to a purple glow symbolizing love.


As BTS’ leader, RM, wrote in a letter to fans on June 12th: “We’ve built our own world that no 

one else could understand.” 


The citywide celebration attracting hundreds of thousands of people across the world proves 

this: BTS have really accomplished something new, created a new world, and will like ly go down 

in history for it. 


So on June 17th, the night of the grand finale of BTS’ 10th anniversary celebration, I was 

standing on the grounds of Cheong Wa Dae staring across at the purple cityscape—on a 

precipice between a relic of the South Korea of the past and a view of the expansive, lit-up


South Korea of the present. I realized then that the two contrasting views on either side of me 

were actually two mirrored portions of the same whole: two important chapters of the life and 

accomplishments that make up South Korean history.   



By :  Caroline Ketelhohn, Korea.com Summer Intern 


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