Border restrictions triggered by the omicron variant of the coronavirus are complicating plans for travelers all over the world. BTS, the widely beloved K-pop supergroup, is apparently no exception.
A public health order in South Korea that begins Friday requires international travelers to undergo a 10-day quarantine upon arrival, effectively keeping the seven-member boy band from attending the Mnet Asian Music Awards on Dec. 11. Mnet, the television music channel that produces the awards, confirmed to Seoul-based Yonhap News Agency that BTS won’t make a previously scheduled appearance because the band’s return from California will fall within the nationally prescribed isolation window.
Choi Ji-won, a reporter who writes about K-pop for the Seoul-based Korea Herald, is in Los Angeles to cover the BTS tour. In an email to The Washington Post, she said her publication had also confirmed with event organizers that BTS would not appear at the awards show, which she described as the biggest in Asia.
Representatives for the band did not respond to a request for comment from The Washington Post.
BTS is set to finish out a handful of dates in Los Angeles on Friday before heading back to South Korea. Their return will coincide with tighter quarantine requirements that health authorities in South Korea announced Thursday, when it broke its daily record for new coronavirus cases (5,200) for the second straight day. The country had confirmed six omicron cases as of Thursday, the Associated Press reports. South Korea is requiring all inbound travelers, including citizens and people who are vaccinated, to quarantine for 10 days. Vaccinated people were previously exempt from quarantine. The ramped-up measure is in place for at least two weeks.
BTS won eight awards and gave three “wildly ambitious” performances at Mnet’s show in 2020, according to Billboard, which called it “the biggest K-pop awards show of the year.” TikTok is the title sponsor this year.
According to Yonhap, BTS will deliver a video message for this year’s event. The 2020 show was filmed without a live audience, but the news agency said the crowds were set to return this year.
With a passionate global fan base known as ARMY, BTS drew concertgoers from around the world for its Los Angeles shows, the band’s first in-person concerts since the pandemic began. KCRW, an NPR member station in Los Angeles, reported that a South Korean travel company had even created packages for fans to come to the United States for the performances. Officials for SoFi Stadium told multiple outlets that the shows drew fans from at least 78 countries.
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