New London – Meggan Coronel Marca’s eyes lit up when asked about BTS’ upcoming concert on Saturday.
The 17-year-old New Londoner and her friend Naysha Valencia appeared to be the first fans to arrive at Mystic Luxury Cinemas ahead of the 4.30pm screening of the popular K-pop group’s concert in Seoul, South Korea.
Coronel Marca wore a glow stick, called ARMY Bomb, and decked out in BT21 merchandise – hat, shirt and pins with animated characters representing members of the seven-member South Korean group that has a passionate following worldwide. The fanbase is known as ARMY, for Adorable Representative MC for Youth (MC can stand for emcee or microphone controller), of which Coronel Marca and Valencia are members.
“We listen to their music and support their voice,” said Coronel Marca.
As for what draws so many followers to the band, Coronel Marca said, “They’re incredibly humble, the music is touching and a lot of their songs have messages that are relatable…and deal with societal issues.”
The two teenagers were among dozens of fans who came on Saturday for a broadcast of the concert in an 80-seat theater. BTS is performing three shows in Seoul on March 10, 12 and 13 as part of the “Permission to Dance on Stage” tour, the first concerts in their home country in two years due to the pandemic. Saturday’s show was shown in select theaters around the world.
While the group has performed virtual concerts, BTS has not toured the Northeast since 2019. They canceled their North American leg of the 2020 Map of the Soul World Tour due to COVID-19. Valencia, who had tickets to a show in New Jersey, has yet to get a chance to see BTS live or reunite with other ARMY members.
BTS, is the abbreviation of Bangtan Sonyeondan in Korean, whose English translation is Bulletproof Boy Scouts. The group has a list of chart-topping songs that include “Dynamite” and “Butter.”
Their music, according to Billboard, is not only upbeat pop, but also addresses social issues. In 2018, BTS became the first K-pop group to speak at the United Nations to help launch the UN’s Generation Unlimited, an education and employment program for young people. They donated $1 million to Black Lives Matter in 2020, with ARMY matching the donation with an additional $1 million to BLM.
As 12-year-old Noor Mansour points out, some of their songs have English lyrics, unlike other K-pop artists. Tatiana Cowell, 15, from Groton, said she would probably struggle to stop herself from screaming once the concert started.