We analyze four online concerts by K-pop group BTS (Bangtan Sonyeondan) during the COVID-19 pandemic (2020 to the present) from the view of participant observation. The pandemic served as a catalyst for the evolution of these concerts. BTS set new records for revenue generated by a single online concert in June 2020, only to beat their own record in October 2020, and again in June 2021. While BTS delivered high-quality online concerts to its fans, known as ARMY, these concerts highlighted the challenges to both audience members and performers despite the use of “virtual reality” technologies. We argue that BTS’s online concerts represent a new type of concert production and consumption that expands the accessibility of performances to fans all over the world, and also enabled new forms of interactions between artists and audience members. However, these concerts inadvertently highlighted the importance of in-person interaction between fans and performers as K-pop relies heavily not only on cheering and banners that support artists, but also on light sticks, fan chants, and other activities.

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