Skip to Content

K-pop star hugs 1,000 fans after completing mandatory military service

By Jessie Yeung, Mike Valerio and Yoonjung Seo, CNN

Seoul, South Korea (CNN) — The oldest member of the K-pop phenomenon BTS is spending his day hugging 1,000 fans, after finishing his mandatory military service in South Korea on Wednesday.

Jin made his first public appearance at Seoul’s Jamsil Sports Complex this afternoon, where he is performing and meeting fans.

At the event, 1,000 lucky fans who won in a raffle will receive hugs from the 31-year-old, while a total of 4,000 select fans will be able to attend his performance at the end of the day.

Some BTS superfans – known as ARMY (Adorable Representative MC for Youth) – have journeyed from overseas to attend the BTS Festa event.

The country’s compulsory military service, which requires almost all able-bodied men to serve for 18 months by the time they are 28 years old, enforced a hiatus on one of the world’s most successful contemporary pop acts. The government passed a law in 2020 that allowed major pop stars to defer until the age of 30. The other six members of the septet are still serving.

Mim Cheenchanya from Thailand is one of the lucky fans who will hug Jin – and told CNN she started crying tears of immense joy when she learned she had won in the raffle.

“I wish to tell Jin if he comes to Thailand, can he hold a concert for seven days, because I love BTS so much,” Cheenchanya said.

As Jin started giving out hugs in the afternoon, videos began flooding social media from ecstatic fans, showing the star quickly hugging each person as they walked across a purple stage in a line. Many can be heard screaming, whooping, and crying.

Even those who can’t get hugs are happy to be there.

Holly Campbell, who had traveled from Melbourne, Australia, and Ashley Stoudnour, from Florida, told CNN they wouldn’t have missed the festival for anything. They had entered the hug raffle too, but no luck. “Everybody here tried,” Campbell joked, wearing purple – the band’s color – from her shiny boots to her lavender cap.

Purple has become ubiquitous with BTS since member V described it as a symbol of the band’s long-lasting love and relationship with their fans. Since then, the color has made appearances in many of their live performances, merchandise and branded collaborations.

“BTS themselves pour out so much love – they put love into their music, into their personalities, their fans,” said Stoudnour. Flying thousands of miles across the world to welcome Jin back was just a way for the fans to “give them love back,” Stoudnor added – describing him as the “comedian of the group.”

Another fan, Kim Yoon-jeong, said she had cried all night after finding out she didn’t win a coveted seat in the stadium for Jin’s performance, or a hug – but she was still excited to support him. She showed CNN her artworks – digitally painted portraits of each BTS member – and tiny stuffed dolls of them in her bag, including one member dressed in a military uniform.

Michelle Pedraza, another fan who flew to Seoul from her home in California and also missed out on winning a hug ticket, showed off her purple-dyed hair for the event. “No hug, but all of the air that he’s breathing, I’ll be breathing,” she joked, adding she’d probably be crying and screaming once he took to the stage.

The festival was already packed in the morning, with various activities and stalls set up – photo booths, bracelet-making, custom pins, BTS sticker shops and more. Fans queued to enter, with some enjoying snacks under the shade or using umbrellas to evade the boiling heat.

BTS have become worldwide superstars since debuting in 2013, earning No. 1 singles in more than 100 countries. They’ve racked up a long list of accolades – numerous Billboard Music awards, Time magazine’s Entertainer of the Year award in 2020, and multiple titles at the 2021 American Music Awards – even becoming the first K-Pop act to earn a Grammy nomination in 2021.

Beyond music, the group’s members are among the world’s most bankable fashion icons – with what they wear on the red carpet and in music videos closely watched.

In 2021, Louis Vuitton named the group brand ambassadors and dressed them in complementary suits for the 64th Grammy Awards the next year. Dior outfitted the band in custom stagewear for their 2019 tour. Individual members have starred in various luxury fashion house campaigns.

In the last few years, the hiatus that military service would bring loomed large. Jin was the first in the group to enlist at 30. BTS is expected to reconvene as a group around 2025.

This story will be updated as the event unfolds.

™ & © 2024 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - Style

Jump to comments ↓

CNN Newsource


KTVZ NewsChannel 21 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content