BTS Festa 2024 marred by alleged sexual harassment and safety concerns

Pictures of fans attempting to kiss Jin on Thursday at the hug event [SCREEN CAPTURE]

BTS Festa 2024 has been mired in controversy over alleged sexual harassment and reports of poor management on Thursday.

Pictures from the event showed some fans making inappropriate sexual advances to BTS member Jin during the hug event he hosted, and other fans reportedly suffered from heatstroke and heat exhaustion during this year's BTS Festa.

Jin held a special meet and greet with fans at 3 p.m. where he gave hugs to 1,000 fans in a never-before-seen K-pop event.

Some fans were caught trying to kiss Jin on camera, invoking outrage on social media and online communities such as TheQoo and X, formerly known as Twitter.

Comments online were highly critical of the sexual harassment, with some of them saying, "This is disgusting," "Are they out of their minds?" and "They were naive, I knew this was going to happen."

Jin can be seen in the pictures caught off guard as he draws away from attempts to kiss him. The BTS member carried on with the event despite the advances, hugging all 1,000 fans as promised.

Jin of boy band BTS greets fans at the “Message from Jin: June 13 2024,” get-together held at the Jamsil Indoor Arena in southern Seoul on June 13. [BIGHIT MUSIC]

BTS Festa was also criticized for poor safety management, along with abusive working conditions for its maintenance staff.

The highest recorded temperature on the day of the event was 32 degrees Celsius (89.6 degrees Fahrenheit), with reportedly around 50 people suffering from the heat and taking refuge in emergency booths.

Local media reported that while relief measures existed for health crises, the maintenance crew was mistreated, making proper crisis management difficult. The crew for the event was understaffed and had long shifts without proper rotation.

Fans also stood in the heat for extended periods of time. Fans waited for hours in long lines to take pictures in the photo zones, often without proper nourishment or shade.

Fans standing in line at the 2024 BTS Festa [YONHAP]

In an interview with local media outlet Xports News on Thursday, HYBE, the organizer of the event, denied the accusations of poor management.

“There was no case of 50 people suffering from heat-related ailments,” said HYBE. “About 60 people visited booths for water and fans. Only one person was escorted out by ambulance, and it wasn’t due to a heat-related ailment.”

Xports News also reported that staff at the event said that only one of the two planned ambulances were placed at the event. HYBE also addressed this claim.

“We established and implemented operational regulations in consideration of the event's scale and the hot weather,” said HYBE. “The day before the event, a professional safety team conducted safety inspections, accompanied by the fire department and police.”