BTS’s Las Vegas takeover is well under way. RM, Jin, Suga, j-hope, Jimin, V, and Jungkook will perform four sold out shows at Allegiant Stadium this coming weekend and next and as I mentioned earlier this week after their Grammys performance, Vegas right now feels like it’s a BTS festival, or a mini-Olympics, as BTS everything can be seen everywhere in town from pop-up exhibits that feel like their own art walks to food emporiums showcasing Korean cuisine that give participants the sense that they’re attending a food fair.
Even Vegas’s Twitter account has been changed to reflect BTS’s residency:
“Borahaegas” is a play on “borahae”, a word invented by V a few years ago that combinates the Korean words for “purple” and “love” to mean “I Purple You”, because purple is BTS’s colour.
To put BTS’s benevolent Las Vegas invasion in perspective, their second weekend in Vegas is also the first weekend of Coachella. Here’s an idea if someone hasn’t thought of it yet: do a comparison, because the similarities are there, with one major difference. Concerts on the same weekend, in two separate deserts, Vegas and Palm Springs, attracting thousands upon thousands of fans…
Except in one case it’s multiple musical acts being presented and in the other it’s JUST ONE act featured in a festival setting, bringing in all those people and boosting the local economy. For those of you still obstinately holding out on giving BTS the respect they’re due, the numbers won’t lie… and while I’m nowhere near as expert in BTS as many others, I’ve been following them long enough to know that they are fully capable of big numbers by themselves on their own single stage, numbers that could be competitively comparable per capita to another festival a couple of hours away with multiple stages and multiple entertainers.
So that’s the dominant conversation right now if you pay attention to BTS. The other conversation, much less fun, and that will potentially get me into trouble, is the one about them being asked to perform at the inauguration of South Korean president-elect Yoon Suk-yeol. A member of Yoon’s team said this week that the possibility is being discussed. BTS’s label has said that the first they heard of this was through news reports and that they’ve not yet received an invitation.
You can read more about the situation at The Korea Herald but in summary, the reason that this is such a sticky subject is because Yoon is considered by many to be anti-feminist, appealing to angry young misogynistic men during his campaign during what some called an “incel election” last month. A key element of his election platform was the pledge to get rid of the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family. These are not values consistent with the BTS ethos. RM, Jin, Suga, j-hope, Jimin, V, and Jungkook have modelled soft masculinity, supported 2SLGBTQ+ rights, and are uncompromisingly inclusive. Needless to say, ARMY probably wouldn’t be all that supportive of a BTS appearance at the inauguration and if we know anything, it’s that this band prioritises its fans. BTS is rumoured to be releasing a new album soon though, and the Billboard Music Awards are happening a few days after the inauguration so, scheduling-wise, this might not even be a thing.
To go back to the election in Korean and specifically on gender equality, so many Korean women felt on the morning of March 10, 2022 the way many in North America felt on November 9, 2016. Despite South Korea’s economic and financial successes, the country ranks low on the gender pay gap scale, the lowest among member countries according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. It’s a reminder that economic advancement, no matter where you are in the world, does not necessarily equal social advancement. From east to west and north to south, basic human rights are being infringed upon on a global scale.
Yours in gossip,