Last week, BTS fans in Argentina got an unexpected but joyous piece of news. Kim Seok-jin, more commonly known as Jin, the oldest member of the South Korean K-Pop group, would be performing his new single “The Astronaut” for the first time as a special guest at a Coldplay concert in Buenos Aires. As excited as fans were, they also faced a challenge: How would they welcome Jin and show their support for him at the concert when many of them didn’t have the expensive and hard-to-get ARMY bombs?
For the uninitiated, a BTS ARMY bomb is one of the must-have items for the group’s fans, who are known as ARMY. Rest assured, it’s not a real bomb, but rather a custom light stick that fans can use to show their support at BTS concerts and other events. The sticks also allow fans to participate in an ARMY bomb “ocean,” the term used to describe what all the light sticks look like together. In addition, BTS ARMY bombs also form part of colorful light shows coordinated by event staff via Bluetooth.
ARMY bombs can be hard to come by for any person, but they’re especially difficult to get in Argentina. The country has been rocked by a grueling economic crisis, inflation of nearly 100% this year, and the decreased value of its currency. As multiple fans in the country explained on social media and in interviews with Gizmodo, buying an ARMY bomb in Argentina right now is very expensive. Many people simply can’t afford them. Their official price was around $60 last year, but that doesn’t include extra costs like taxes and shipping.
“The ARMY bomb is that one thing that all of us dream of having after an album, if we can buy it, but not everyone has the financial means,” Marian, one of the admins of the fanbase BTS ARMY Home Argentina, who only wished to be identified by her first name, told Gizmodo in Spanish via WhatsApp.
Marian herself hasn’t been able to purchase her own ARMY bomb.
Faced with this scenario, BTS ARMY Home Argentina, which was founded recently in 2020, came up with an idea: They would make their own economically-accessible version of an ARMY bomb. Shortly after Jin’s performance was announced in Buenos Aires, they unveiled their “Purple Lights x Jin” project.
The idea was simple. Instead of trying to find a similar light stick or make one from scratch, they would use what most of them already had on hand: their phones. To create “purple lights”—purple is BTS’ group color—all fans had to do was grab some purple cellophane, fold it into three parts (so the color will be stronger), and tape it to their phone’s flashlight.
“At the moment when Jin appears, let’s accompany him with purple lights in the River stadium while we enjoy his performance,” the group wrote on Twitter in Spanish under the hashtag #PurpleLightsxJin.
After they announced Purple Lights x Jin, Marian said the group got a bigger response than they could have ever imagined. Many fans responded that they thought it was a great idea and would participate wherever they watched Jin’s performance, whether it was at the concert itself or at one of the movie theaters streaming it.
Zowie, who uses the handle @dreamminn_ on Twitter and wanted to be identified only by her first name for privacy reasons, was one of the BTS fans that decided to participate when she saw the initiative announced on social media. She also doesn’t own an ARMY bomb and reiterated that it was complicated and expensive to get one in the country. To add her own little grain of sand to the project, Zowie decided to create a tutorial to help other fans create their own purple lights.
She told Gizmodo via Twitter direct messages that she thought creating the tutorial would be a nice way of integrating ARMY inside and outside the concert stadium, such as those fans who were watching in movie theaters or were in other countries. For her part, Zowie is going to the concert today, although she managed to get tickets at the last minute.
“Army is a group of very different people and every little thing we can do to be more united is something I’m always going to want to participate in,” she said, adding: “I [also] wanted more Armys to participate in the project because Seokjin deserves it.”
Eliana is another BTS fan who thought Purple Lights x Jin was great and decided to join in. Also lacking an ARMY bomb, she made a bunch of kits with purple cellophane to hand out to fellow fans that hadn’t brought one. The kits included a note with a little astronaut asking fans not to leave the purple cellophane at the stadium and dispose of it in the proper trash receptacle.
“A lot of people that are going to the concert don’t have Twitter so they don’t know about the project,” Eliana, who is going to the concert, told Gizmodo via Twitter DM. “There are also people who weren’t able to get the cellophane or didn’t have time to make their lights because of work or school. The idea is for as much of the fandom that attends to make itself known so Seokjin can feel accompanied by ARMY.”
When Gizmodo spoke to Marian, the admin for BTS ARMY Home Argentina, on Thursday, the fan was busy cutting purple cellophane. Like Eliana, Marian was making lots of extra purple light kits for ARMY, Coldplay fans, or anyone else who wanted to join in their Purple Lights x Jin project.
Marian told Gizmodo that she and the rest of BTS ARMY Home Argentina were very happy with how fans have responded to the project and are eager to go celebrate together at the concert and listen to Jin perform “The Astronaut.” As for BTS, its members are currently on hiatus and will carry out their mandatory military service before coming back together as a group around 2025, Marian wants them to know ARMY will always support them.
“We’re going to be waiting for them here eagerly,” she said. “We love them so much. They inspire us to be better people in our day to day, to help others, and to be united. We’re grateful to them and this is one way we have to give back all the love they’ve given us.”