BTS to reunite for free concert in support of South Korea's World Expo bid

The K-pop group have been on a break while members pursue solo projects

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Record-breaking K-pop group BTS are reuniting for a concert on Saturday in South Korea's southern port city of Busan, which is bidding to host the World Expo 2030.

Titled BTS in Busan, the free concert is set to take place at 6pm local time (1pm in the UAE) and is expected draw about 100,000 fans to the Busan Asiad Main Stadium as well as designated areas in Busan, which is more than 300 kilometres south-east of capital Seoul.

The concert comes after the seven-piece band announced a break in June from group musical activities to pursue solo projects, raising questions about their future.

Banners featuring BTS member Jimin are displayed along a road near Busan Asiad Main Stadium in Busan, South Korea. AP

With BTS's oldest member, Jin, who is turning 30 next year, facing South Korea's mandatory military service, the country's defence minister said in August that BTS might still be able to perform overseas while serving in the military.

Under South Korean law, all able-bodied men are required to perform 18 to 21 months of military service. The law provides special exemptions for athletes, classical and traditional musicians, and ballet and other dancers who have won top prizes in certain competitions that enhance national prestige. Globally recognised K-pop stars were allowed to put off their service until 30.

Four countries, including South Korea, Italy, Ukraine and Saudi Arabia, have submitted competing candidatures to organise World Expo 2030, according to the organising body Bureau International des Expositions. The winning host country is expected to be elected next year.

While announcing his country's bid last year, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman said the 2030 World Expo in Riyadh would coincide with the culmination of the kingdom’s Vision 2030, an initiative that aims to move the country away from oil and diversify its economy.

“We live in an era of change and we face an unprecedented need for humanity’s collective action. It is clear that the whole world, as a collective, needs to work together to foresee the future and address, with its brightest minds, the challenges and opportunities that emanate from this change," he said.

Expo 2030 will take place from October 1, 2030, to April 1, 2031. The theme proposed by Saudi Arabia is “The era of change: leading the planet to a foresighted tomorrow".

Dubai hosted Expo 2020 from October 2021 to March 2022, delayed by a year owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In July, BTS were named as the official ambassadors for the World Expo 2030 in Busan.

BTS made their debut in June 2013 and became a worldwide sensation with their upbeat hits and social campaigns aimed at empowering young people.

— Additional reporting by Reuters

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Updated: October 15, 2022, 6:55 AM