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BTS returns to the stage reuniting their ARMY of fans after a 2-year hiatus

Two separate groups of fans from the Philippines take a photo together before the BTS concert at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif., on Nov. 27.
Hannah Yoon for NPR
Two separate groups of fans from the Philippines take a photo together before the BTS concert at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif., on Nov. 27.

It's been over two years since BTS and fans met face to face at a live concert. The group's very last show was in Seoul, South Korea during the Love Yourself: Speak Yourself world tour on Oct. 29, 2019.

Announcing the dates with nearly a week's notice to fans back in September, BTS sold out their four day SoFi Stadium concert tour before tickets were released to the general public. BTS fans, also known as ARMY, flew to Los Angeles from all over the U.S. and even all over the world to finally reunite with their favorite idols. Tens of thousands of fans gathered each night on four different days at SoFi Stadium.

Tiffany Lui stands with a blanket of BTS member Jin before the concert. Lui spent her time handing out little BTS gift packs to other fans before the concert.
/ Hannah Yoon for NPR
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Hannah Yoon for NPR
Tiffany Lui stands with a blanket of BTS member Jin before the concert. Lui spent her time handing out little BTS gift packs to other fans before the concert.

Not only was this a moment for ARMY to see their favorite artists, it was also a time to meet other fans they had connected with online. Julieta Salvo flew in from Seoul, South Korea. Originally from Argentina, Salvo has been living in South Korea for seven years and became part of ARMY last year during the pandemic.

"It's the first concert in two years. The first they held after I became ARMY and it was my first BTS concert," says Salvo, who attended all four concert nights. "I wanted to be here for their reunion with ARMY." She was able to meet fellow ARMY member Claudia Cornejo from Michigan in person after interacting with her online. Cornejo, originally from Mexico City, Mexico, has been to multiple BTS concerts in different U.S. cities and Canada.

"To me it is important to attend as many BTS concerts as I can afford," Cornejo says. "I invest a lot of my free time and money supporting them and their music. [It] might sound super cliché, but I found them at the worst moment in my life and they helped me overcome some mental issues and bring extreme joy to my life." Cornejo also enjoys finding clothes her favorite members wear and supporting different fashion brands.

Among the sea of people, you couldn't miss the fans that came dressed to the nines. Friends came matching with sparkly purple jackets, colorful wigs and BT21 headbands. Others custom designed their own outfits, while some wore specific, themed fits to showcase the different eras of BTS' musical journey. In addition to standing in line for merchandise, fans exchanged collectibles, gave away gift packs with candy, photo cards and jewelry, and watched dance groups perform.

Despite this being the first time in a long time that BTS and ARMY were together in a live setting full of singing, laughter and tears, BTS made it clear there is so much more to come.

<strong>Left:</strong> Jiselle Camacho came from the Bay Area to attend her first BTS concert. <strong>Right:</strong> Kianna Ballard, of St. Paul, Minn., is wearing a custom designed outfit for the show.
/ Hannah Yoon for NPR
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Hannah Yoon for NPR
Left: Jiselle Camacho came from the Bay Area to attend her first BTS concert. Right: Kianna Ballard, of St. Paul, Minn., is wearing a custom designed outfit for the show.
Two fans from Japan carry bags with pins of their favorite BTS members as they wait for the concert.
/ Hannah Yoon for NPR
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Hannah Yoon for NPR
Two fans from Japan carry bags with pins of their favorite BTS members as they wait for the concert.
<strong>Left:</strong> Kenya Monk stands with her children, Kam, 10, Mya, 15, and Kayla, 7, before their first BTS concert. <strong>Right: </strong>Friends Mal Rosero and Jee Soo Kim met for the first time after interacting on Twitter.
/ Hannah Yoon for NPR
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Hannah Yoon for NPR
Left: Kenya Monk stands with her children, Kam, 10, Mya, 15, and Kayla, 7, before their first BTS concert. Right: Friends Mal Rosero and Jee Soo Kim met for the first time after interacting on Twitter.
Abi Castaneda, 25, stands with McDonald's cutouts of BTS members V, RM and J-Hope.
/ Hannah Yoon for NPR
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Hannah Yoon for NPR
Abi Castaneda, 25, stands with McDonald's cutouts of BTS members V, RM and J-Hope.
<strong>Left:</strong> Pleasure Scott, of Los Angeles, and Shaniya Houston, of Alaska, stand together while waiting in line. <strong>Right:</strong> Cousins Maya Beydoun and Dalya Beydoun traveled from Dearborn, Mich.
/ Hannah Yoon for NPR
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Hannah Yoon for NPR
Left: Pleasure Scott, of Los Angeles, and Shaniya Houston, of Alaska, stand together while waiting in line. Right: Cousins Maya Beydoun and Dalya Beydoun traveled from Dearborn, Mich.
Friends Ravy Sok, Stephanie Tea, Rosemary Millan and Lina Sok walk together outside the SoFi stadium.
/ Hannah Yoon for NPR
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Hannah Yoon for NPR
Friends Ravy Sok, Stephanie Tea, Rosemary Millan and Lina Sok walk together outside the SoFi stadium.
<strong>Left:</strong> Siblings Josephine and Jonathan Gatus wait outside before the concert. <strong>Right:</strong> Talia Mirai traveled from from Houston, Texas, to see BTS perform.
/ Hannah Yoon for NPR
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Hannah Yoon for NPR
Left: Siblings Josephine and Jonathan Gatus wait outside before the concert. Right: Talia Mirai traveled from from Houston, Texas, to see BTS perform.
Three fans show off their BTS hats as they wait for the first BTS in person concert in two years.
/ Hannah Yoon for NPR
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Hannah Yoon for NPR
Three fans show off their BTS hats as they wait for the first BTS in person concert in two years.
Fans wait in line for the BTS concert at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood.
/ Hannah Yoon for NPR
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Hannah Yoon for NPR
Fans wait in line for the BTS concert at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood.

Hannah Yoon is a documentary photographer based in Philadelphia. You can follow her on Instagram: @hanloveyoon. Emily Bogle produced this story.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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