BTS' Jin Reunites with Fans in Hug Marathon After Completing Military Service

BTS' Jin Reunites with Fans in Hug Marathon After Completing Military Service

Felix Yim 12/06/2024
BTS' Jin Reunites with Fans in Hug Marathon After Military Service

Numerous BTS fans will gather in Seoul on Thursday to receive a hug from Jin after completing his military service.

Jin is the oldest member of the globally acclaimed K-pop group. Tomorrow's event marks his return to civilian life after 18 months of military service. The "hugathon," Jin's first public event since being discharged from the South Korean army on Wednesday, saw fans, selected through a raffle, lining up for a personal embrace with their idol.

Jin, who suggested initially embracing up to 3,000 fans, expressed his excitement to reconnect with his supporters. "I’m so happy now that I will meet Jin," said Ms. Park, a 32-year-old fan, who learned over the weekend that she had secured a spot in the highly anticipated event. "I didn’t expect to win. I couldn’t believe it, so all weekend I kept checking over and over again."

Jin, 31, was drafted in December 2022 and served as an assistant drill instructor at a training center. His return marks a significant moment for BTS fans, as he is the first member of the group to complete his mandatory military service. The other members – J-Hope, V, RM, Jimin, Jung Kook, and Suga – are still serving, with the band expected to fully reunite in June 2025. However, the group briefly reunited on Wednesday to celebrate Jin's return, sparking excitement among fans worldwide.

In a livestream to his fans, Jin expressed his gratitude and affection: "Thank you for waiting for me, I love you. I will try to express my feelings tomorrow." Following Thursday's hugs, Jin is set to participate in another event involving 3,000 fans, where he will perform songs by request and share personal messages.

Vanessa May Leuterio, a 25-year-old fan from the Philippines, managed to reach the second round of the raffle and flew to Seoul to be part of the festivities. "I cried [when I learned the result] since I prayed very hard for a winning slot," she said. "It was definitely hard to win since it was me versus thousands of ARMYs [BTS fan group] who wanted to join."

While fans like Ms. Park are thrilled, some express concerns about the logistics and safety of the event. "Hugging a thousand people for three hours is difficult even if Jin became more fit in the military," she noted. Many fans urged HYBE, BTS's management company, to limit the number of participants and ensure the safety of the attendees. "Someone could approach him pretending to be a fan. We fans are constantly worried for the artist’s health and safety," she added.

The event faced some backlash due to its initial qualification rules, which required fans to join ARMY and purchase BTS albums on a designated website to enter the raffle. The more albums bought, the higher the chances of winning a hug. This led to accusations that HYBE was using the event to clear unsold album stock. In response, the agency apologized and relaxed the criteria, allowing anyone who had ever purchased certain BTS albums to participate.

Addressing the controversy during his livestream, Jin said, "This is something that the company and I prepared in good intention, so please understand."

To the fans, Jin's return signals the beginning of BTS's return from their enforced hiatus. However, industry experts ponder the future of the band post-pause. Music critic Lim Hee-yun noted, "BTS will be perceived as older," but he believes this will not necessarily hurt their image. "BTS has been active for more than a decade. They will not attract new, young fans who will find them fresh, but their existing fan base will go with them. They are growing old with the band."

Fans seem to echo this sentiment. Samantha, a 20-year-old fan who did not win a chance to hug Jin but will attend the second part of Thursday's event, said, "I think that shouldn't be a problem between ARMYs and BTS." Having followed the band since she was 10, she added, "I like their music, not their popularity."

Jin's return is not just a personal milestone but a collective celebration for the ARMY. The event underscored the deep bond between BTS and their fans, a relationship built on more than just music but shared experiences and mutual support. As the band members gradually complete their military service, the anticipation for their full reunion grows, promising a new chapter in the BTS saga that fans worldwide eagerly await.

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Felix Yim

Tech Expert

Felix is the founder of Society of Speed, an automotive journal covering the unique lifestyle of supercar owners. Alongside automotive journalism, Felix recently graduated from university with a finance degree and enjoys helping students and other young founders grow their projects. 

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