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Defying worsening S. Korea-Japan ties, BTS concerts draw 210,000 fans in Japan

All Headlines 13:43 July 15, 2019

By Park Boram

SEOUL, July 15 (Yonhap) -- K-pop super band BTS' four concerts in Japan this month drew a total of 210,000 fans, making the Japanese leg of the band's world tour a solid success despite worsening trade and diplomatic rows between South Korea and Japan.

On Saturday and Sunday, the Korean septet rocked Shizuoka's 50,000-seat ECOPA stadium in the second Japanese city of their world tour "Love Yourself: Speak Yourself."

This was in addition to the band's concerts at the 47,000-seat Yanmar Stadium Nagai in Osaka the previous weekend, the first stop on the tour's Japanese leg.

The concerts entertained 210,000 spectators in total, the band's management agency Big Hit Entertainment said.

This photo, provided by Big Hit Entertainment, shows BTS performing at one of its concerts at Osaka's Yanmar Stadium Nagai on July 6 and 7, 2019. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

"Love Yourself: Speak Yourself" kicked off in May in Pasadena's Rose Bowl stadium in the United States before hitting Brazil, England and France.

The Japanese leg came with a special set list; it featured the band's first onstage presentation of the Japanese-language version of the band's latest global hit song, "Boy With Luv."

It was one of the three tracks on "Lights/Boy With Luv," BTS' Japanese single released on July 3. The record became the Oricon weekly single chart topper for the week of July 1-7, having earned 637,000 points, the highest first-week score ever for any foreign artist in Japan.

The Sunday Shizuoka concert was also screened live at 277 Japanese movie theaters, according to Big Hit.

The Japanese expedition by BTS was little affected by worsening diplomatic and trade rows between Seoul and Tokyo.

Protesting against Seoul court rulings that ordered Japanese firms to compensate Korean victims of wartime forced labor, Japan introduced measures to restrict exports of materials essential for semiconductor and display production to South Korea in early July. Japan is widely predicted to adopt further export curbs, exacerbating the trade dispute with South Korea at the World Trade Organization.

The bilateral trade and diplomatic rows have begun showing signs of seeping into public sentiment in the neighboring countries, with some South Korean consumers starting to boycott Japanese goods and services.

This photo, provided by Big Hit Entertainment, shows BTS during its performances at Shizuoka's ECOPA stadium on July 13 and 14, 2019. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

Even against this backdrop, the Japanese stadiums for the recent BTS concerts were filled to the brim and fans there enthusiastically enjoyed live performances that featured a medley of signature BTS songs such as "Fire," "Not Today" and "Dionysus," Big Hit said.

"We give our thanks to (the Japanese) ARMY who have supported us from our debut album to the single we released recently," BTS was quoted by Big Hit as saying following the Japanese tour. ARMY is the name of the BTS fandom.

"The time we spend with ARMY is the best time for us. We are happy thanks to you who enjoyed the performance with us."

Bolstered by the success of the Japanese tour, BTS announced on Sunday that it will add a new Saudi Arabian leg of the "Love Yourself: Speak Yourself" tour.

The performance at the King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh, set for Oct. 11, makes BTS the first non-Saudi Arabian artist to put on a solo stadium concert in the Arab country. Other foreign acts have performed at festivals in the kingdom.

This panoramic view, provided by Big Hit Entertainment, shows Osaka's Yanmar Stadium Nagai during BTS' performances there on July 6 and 7, 2019. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)
This panoramic view, provided by Big Hit Entertainment, shows Shizuoka's ECOPA stadium during BTS' performances there on July 13 and 14, 2019. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

pbr@yna.co.kr
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