Korean band BTS pop-up store

Dhe most successful boy band in the world has taken a break. A few months ago, BTS, short for Bangtan Sonyeondan, played their last concert, it shouldn’t continue until 2025. Then all members of the band will have completed their military service. Jin, the eldest of the group of seven, started in December.

However, a lot can happen between now and 2025 and whether the group will actually return in this form is by no means guaranteed. It’s tough for fans, and it’s tough for the Korean economy too, because the band’s massive success brings them billions of dollars a year. Reason enough to keep the fans engaged and feed them products from the band universe, like now in Berlin.

The so-called “Space of BTS”, a pop-up store where fans can buy the band’s merchandise, has opened for a few weeks on Mercedes-Platz. In addition, “experience worlds” are waiting here, as can be read in the PR release. Given what the store offers, that’s a bit of a big mouthed word. There are a few corners where you can take photos, and the band’s music videos are playing on a screen. But basically this is simple – a fan shop.

“What are you looking for?”

To enter, visitors must register online and book a one-hour time slot. If you don’t do that, you won’t get in. Although there are only a few isolated visitors that evening, there is a strict door. Why exactly? Those are specifications South Koreasays the store manager: “They want to know how many people are coming.” In order to be able to plan more stores in other countries better.

BTS at the 2022 Grammy Awards in Las Vegas

BTS at the 2022 Grammy Awards in Las Vegas

Image: AP

BTS is a phenomenon that divides society. Not on the bad. But given their gigantic success, the members are still relatively unknown in the older sections of society. With a Berlin ice hockey fan, for example, who is out and about on Mercedes Square that evening. It is exactly where we expected the store to be. He can’t help: “What are you looking for?” Maria, a BTS fan who is also looking for the store, repeats: “The BTS pop-up store! It’s a Korean band.” He looks confused. In a BBC interview with the band, when asked if it was difficult for them to take to the streets, the band said: “It depends. Older people don’t necessarily know us.”

We go on and find the store a little later. Meanwhile, Maria tells how she came to BTS: via a nine-month “work and holiday” in Korea. She is a social worker and worked there in a center for nonviolent communication. BTS isn’t the only K-pop band she listens to, but she particularly likes the BTS “message”: love yourself, don’t let yourself get down. They are also LGBTQ+-friendly, which is not necessarily a matter of course in Asian countries.

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