The Bangtan Boys, the South Korean boy band famously known as BTS, came crashing again into theaters worldwide with the release of their concert-turned-movie, BTS World Tour: Love Yourself in Seoul. The film was released for one day only — Jan. 26 — in 3,800 cinemas across 90 countries around the world, including Century Boulder.
Love Yourself in Seoul follows the success of Burn the Stage: The Movie, which depicted footage from the group’s 2017 The Wings Tour. This time, their film brought its global audience to BTS’s dynamic performance in Seoul Olympic Stadium during their 2018 Love Yourself Tour.
The Love Yourself Tour came on the heels of BTS’s threefold endeavor: their extended play Love Yourself: Her, their studio album Love Yourself: Tear and their compilation album Love Yourself: Answer. Ranging from rap-heavy anthems to soft, melodic ballads, the albums are joined under the theme of radical self-love. Though Love Yourself in Seoul disappointingly lacked interviews or behind-the-scenes footage of the band members, the film brought these albums together in a 24-song set with a three-song encore, roughly equaling two hours of fan-fueled adrenaline.
Opening with their record-breaking hit “Idol,” the seven members of BTS took the stage wearing frilled Baroque suits and took turns with the song’s strong lyrics, which assert that their identities are not up for grabs. The chorus shouts it clearly: “You can’t stop me lovin’ myself.” An ode to cultures at home and abroad, the EDM song’s soundscape is layered with South African beats and traditional Korean instruments.
Many songs were performed solo, giving fans time to jam along to their favorite member. Jungkook, clad in a white suit, delivered a masterful performance of “Euphoria”. Jimin entranced fans with his slow, smooth movements while singing “Serendipity”. Band leader RM — formerly known as Rap Monster — didn’t shy away from his usual energetic rapping style when he took the stage for “Trivia 承: Love”.
Arguably the most compelling song of the lineup was “The Truth Untold”, a melancholic track with the fingerprint of Steve Aoki. The song tells the story of someone trapped behind a mask who longs to reveal his true self, and it taps into the universal desire to be known as one really is and be accepted all the same.
Of course, the Bangtan Boys also delivered the more famous songs from the albums: “Fake Love”, which made it to No. 10 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, and the hip-hop anthem “MIC Drop”. They also threw it back to some of their pre-Love Yourself hits, like “Burning Up (Fire)” and “Dope”.
BTS’s global success prompts excitement among fans and speculation about the future success of K-pop around the world.
“To have [this event] come to Boulder, it just shows how much it’s growing, because usually it’s been in mainstream states like California and New York, Texas,” CU student Iris Barks said. “Next time they do a world tour, they might actually hit all 50 states, because there are fans everywhere now”.
More than simply a flashy aesthetic or fair-weather fad, BTS powerfully impacted their fans with their Love Yourself message.
“BTS came into my life in the darkest time of my life,” CU student Laura MacDonald said. “In Korea, mental health just isn’t talked about. They’re the first people to really bring it to light”.
In September 2018, BTS made headlines for bringing this message to the halls of the United Nations for the launch of UNICEF’s youth empowerment initiative Generation Unlimited. For CU student Shiyue Zhang, “it was really huge because we got to see something that people usually don’t take serious get taken seriously.”
Bringing this powerful message from Seoul to Boulder in a way that only BTS could have, Love Yourself in Seoul proved to be another milestone for the group in their record-breaking journey through the global market.
Contact CU Independent Arts Writer Drew Korschun at email@example.com.