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A complete and thorough guide to BTS’s ‘오,늘’ Exhibition

BTS’s 2018 exhibition, ’24/7 = Serendipity (오,늘)’ at Ara Art Center in Seoul. SCREAMfmLondon

Sunday was an emotional rollercoaster.

After getting my phone stolen on Saturday night, I spent the morning checking in at the police station (2 hours), trying to dance away my pain in the studio (2 hours), then navigating the task of buying and activating a new phone (1.5 hours).

Finally, it was time to see my spot of brightness in this dreary world: the seven boys of BTS. Using a map the police had graciously drawn for me on a Post-it, I found my way to the ’24/7 = Serendipity (오,늘)’ exhibition at Ara Art Center. But the adventure didn’t end there! Without a phone to show my booking confirmation, I had to beg and plead to be let into the exhibit.

When the staff eventually took pity on me and allowed me to enter, they told me not to worry about the phone and “just enjoy your BTS!”

Honestly, what would we do without them?

“Past the end of this cold winter / Until the spring comes again / Until the flowers bloom again / Stay there a little longer,” soothes BTS in 2017’s “Spring Day.” SCREAMfmLondon

Guides are available in multiple languages to help visitors work their way through the ambitious, four-floor exhibit. On the first page of the guide is a romantic inscription: “In the middle of this vast ocean / I sing for someone who will listen to my voice / In the middle of this vast ocean / I hear a song that comforts me / A story we build together, you and I.”

The first rooms, entitled “BTS BEGINS” and “DOPE,” feature golden discs engraved to depict each member’s unique personality and then some beautiful portraits of the beautiful boys themselves.

Jimin, Jin and J-Hope as seen in the “DOPE” room at the ‘오,늘’ exhibition. SCREAMfmLondon

Next comes the “MIC Drop” room, which contains photos of BTS’s significant wins on award shows, from their first Korean music shows to recent achievements abroad like the Billboard Music Awards.

The “MIC Drop” room at BTS’s ‘오,늘’ exhibition. SCREAMfmLondon

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Then a mirrored hallway leads you to “Young Forever,” one of many rooms filled with never-before-seen photos of BTS throughout the years. You’re not supposed to take pictures in there, so I didn’t, but other people definitely did, so I’m sure they’re all online somewhere by now.

This is one of the most crowded rooms, and it’s hot in there, too. In here, I felt like the chaperone of a school field trip, peering over the shoulders of young fans all giggling over how cute Jimin is in the pictures (which he is, of course).

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Next up is the “BANGTAN ROOM,” partially made up to look like the boys’ old studio spaces with computer monitors, equipment, polaroid photos and other personal touches.

Computer monitors looping through old videos in the “BANGTAN ROOM” at the ‘오,늘’ exhibition. SCREAMfmLondon

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I tried so hard to take a picture of Namjoon’s cute little “Give Up” tomato sculpture lamps from behind the glass, but the glare was too real.

These little lamps were created by Case Studyo based on Dutch artist Parra’s original fiberglass sculpture “Give Up.” I love them, and I love Namjoon’s aesthetic, and I love Namjoon. SCREAMfmLondon

Lyrics from BTS’s “Whalien 52.” SCREAMfmLondon

This nearly wraps up the first floor of the exhibit. The next stop is “We On,” which is absolutely one of the coolest parts of the whole thing, bringing to life several of BTS’s most memorable music videos and allowing fans to step into the sets and be a part of their worlds.First comes the set from “I Need U,” featuring the bathtub scene where we see Jimin in the video, as well as some doodles added by the boys upon their visit to the exhibit.

Jimin in “I Need U.” Photo courtesy of Big Hit Entertainment.

The “I Need U” set at the ‘오,늘’ exhibition. SCREAMfmLondon

Namjoon drawing his BT21 character Koya on the bathroom walls at the ‘오,늘’ exhibition. Photo courtesy of Big Hit Entertainment.

Then there’s me! SCREAMfmLondon

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Across from this are the blue train cars also featured in “I Need U.”

BTS in “I Need U.” Photo courtesy of Big Hit Entertainment.

The “I Need U” set at the ‘오,늘’ exhibition. SCREAMfmLondon

The next set is from the “Spring Day” music video: the Omelas hotel, a reference to Ursula K. Le Guin’s science fiction story “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” about a utopian city named Omelas that is in a perpetual state of happiness as long as one child is kept in constant misery.

Yoongi, Namjoon and J-Hope in the “Spring Day” music video. Photo courtesy of Big Hit Entertainment.

The “Spring Day” set at the ‘오,늘’ exhibition. SCREAMfmLondon

Should I stay or should I go? SCREAMfmLondon

Then comes the Magic Shop, a set from BTS’s “Fake Love” teaser. Here, you can exchange your fears for something positive.

Yoongi visits the Magic Shop in the “Fake Love” teaser. Photo courtesy of Big Hit Entertainment.

The Magic Shop at the ‘오,늘’ exhibition. SCREAMfmLondon

I have an animated discussion with the keeper of the Magic Shop at the ‘오,늘’ exhibition. SCREAMfmLondon

The final music video set in this section of the exhibit is from “MIC Drop,” but this room has some cool video and audio elements, so you’re not allowed to take pictures.Across the hall, there is another room of unreleased pictures (this one called “Spring Day”), which leads into “Love Maze.” “Love Maze” is a literal maze of mirrors, some of which have been autographed by the members of BTS. I completely neglected this part, though, because the other rooms on this floor are so cool. Which brings me to…

The next room  — another amazing highlight of the exhibition: “Tear,” a room filled with flatscreen TVs showing never-before-seen dance practice videos! Again, no photos or videos were allowed, so I just took my time taking in the videos that spanned the years of BTS’s existence.

The second floor concludes with the “ARMY BOMB” room, which houses the fence as seen in BTS’s “FIRE” music video. On the wall, there is a video projection of the band from a concert on the 2017 Wings Tour, and fans feel as if they are standing inside in the official lightstick itself.

The first room on the third floor of the exhibition is “Whalien 52,” the blacklight paint-splattered set from J-Hope’s “MAMA” scene in the Wings short films.

J-Hope in BTS’s Wings short film “MAMA.” Photo courtesy of Big Hit Entertainment.

J-Hope and Jungkook take photos inside the “Whalien 52” room at the ‘오,늘’ exhibition. Photo courtesy of Big Hit Entertainment.

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Then there’s me! SCREAMfmLondon

Around the corner is the “House of MASKs,” showcasing the masks worn in the “Fake Love” music video and featured in Taehyung’s “Love Yourself: Tear” comeback trailer, “Singularity.”

The “House of MASKs” at the ‘오,늘’ exhibition. SCREAMfmLondon

The next room, “DNA,” presents several of BTS’s most popular song lyrics in artistic formats that cover all of the room’s white surfaces.

The lyrics to BTS’s “Magic Shop” at the ‘오,늘’ exhibition. SCREAMfmLondon

The lyrics to BTS’s “MIC Drop” at the ‘오,늘’ exhibition. SCREAMfmLondon

Following this is another great highlight of the exhibition: “If I Ruled the World,” a room displaying costumes the BTS members have worn in different music videos as well as representative gas masks the boys designed to go along with the outfits.

The “If I Ruled the World” room at the ‘오,늘’ exhibition. SCREAMfmLondon

Jin’s costume from the “Blood Sweat & Tears” music video at the ‘오,늘’ exhibition. SCREAMfmLondon

J-Hope’s costume from the “MIC Drop” music video at the ‘오,늘’ exhibition. SCREAMfmLondon

Yoongi’s “Not Today” costume and Jungkook’s “DNA” costume at the ‘오,늘’ exhibition. SCREAMfmLondon

A closer look at Yoongi’s crushed velvet gas mask. SCREAMfmLondon

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Taehyung’s “Run” costume at the ‘오,늘’ exhibition. SCREAMfmLondon

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A hallway full of videos entitled “Tomorrow” leads the way to the next and final floor of the exhibition.

First up: another room of unreleased photos (these ones from live performances) called “Wings.” In the center of this room sits the phone booth prop that Namjoon used in his Wings short film “Reflection,” as well as onstage during the tour. The booth is covered in quite a lot of cryptic writing and poetry, so it was thrilling to finally have the chance to inspect it up close.

The fourth floor also features some polaroid photos of the boys in a room called “RUN” and a room of kind of Harry Potter-style moving portraits called “Blood Sweat & Tears.” I wish they’d let us take pictures in this room because Namjoon’s portrait was peak cuteness, and I still dream of it at night.

Finally, fans are invited to write down their feelings on the exhibit in the ARMY capsule in a room called “IDOL.” Overwhelmed, I just wrote down my feelings honestly (they were: “Namjoon is cute!!”) and exited through the gift shop.

The layout of the BTS exhibition at the Ara Art Center. SCREAMfmLondon

And there you have it: a room-by-room, thorough and detailed account of BTS’s ’24/7 = Serendipity (오,늘)’ exhibition. ARMY af.

2018 BTS Exhibition ’24/7 = Serendipity (오,늘)’
Ara Art Center
26, Insandong 9-gil, Jongno-gu
Tickets are 18,000 KRW.
The exhibition runs through October 28.
For more information, visit www.ticket.interpark.com.

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Capsule film reviews: Four more foreign LGBT movies

‘Yossi & Jagger’ (Israel)
Release Date:
Aug. 1, 2002
Director: Eytan Fox
Starring: Ohad Knoller, Yehuda Levi and Assi Cohen
Genre: Drama, Romance
Rating: R for language and some sexual content.
Grade: A

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Photo courtesy of Strand Releasing.

This movie is great — it somehow manages to create vivid and multidimensional depictions of all of the characters (even the background ones) and their connections to one another, although almost the entire plot takes place over the course of a single day. The story follows Yossi (Ohad Knoller), a commander of a company of soldiers in the Israeli army, and his second-in-command officer, Lior (Yehuda Levi), with whom he’s having a secret affair. Lior is quite amusing and endearing, his full-bodied personality and passion for music earning him the nickname “Jagger” among his comrades. Yossi is more reserved and sensible, but their chemistry is obvious, and the film beautifully and succinctly captures the loving relationship between the two. Also impressive are the stand-out performances of Aya Steinovitz and Hani Furstenberg as the company’s two female soldiers who are individually finding their places in a male-dominated field. The 67-minute film is quick but undoubtedly touching and memorable.

‘Weekend’ (United Kingdom)
Release Date:
Sept. 23, 2011
Director: Andrew Haigh
Starring: Tom Cullen, Chris New and Jonathan Race
Genre: Drama, Romance
Rating: Not Rated
Grade: A

weekend

Photo courtesy of Peccadillo Pictures/Sundance Selects.

I remember when “Weekend” was released because it was very much talked-about, and it is still just as good years later. In fact, it’s very refreshing and kind of remarkable in that it’s such a well-made, high-quality gay romance film that does not at all feature a gay panic as a plot device. Both main characters, Russell (Tom Cullen) and Glen (Chris New), are already well aware that they’re gay and are out of the closet when the story begins with them meeting in a club and going home together one Friday night. The film follows the slow building of their relationship as they spend the weekend together having meaningful conversations, taking drugs, riding bumper cars and having sex. It is bittersweet, though, because Glen is scheduled to leave for America the following week. “Weekend” is really a beautiful, captivating movie that is romantic and interesting. It’ll move you.

‘Undertow’ (Peru)
Release Date:
Sept. 23, 2009
Director: Javier Fuentes-León
Starring: Cristian Mercado, Manolo Cardona and Tatiana Astengo
Genre: Drama, Romance
Rating: Not Rated
Grade: B+

undertow

Photo courtesy of Axiom Films.

“Undertow” is a pretty well-executed, interesting romance — almost a fairy tale with its melancholic, supernatural twist and star-crossed lovers. It begins with Peruvian fisherman Miguel (Cristian Mercado) sneaking away from his pregnant wife Mariela (Tatiana Astengo) to carry on an affair with a reclusive painter, Santiago (Manolo Cardona). It’s a pretty standard storyline until you remember that this is supposed to be a ghost story: Santiago shortly drowns at sea and returns as a ghost that only Miguel can see. At first, they’re excited and try to make their relationship work, but then they realize that undead love triangles aren’t really any less complicated than everyday love triangles and aim to put Santiago’s body to rest. The story is unusual and enjoyable. “Undertow” does a good job characterizing the entire community and showing development throughout as the plot progresses. Some elements are more difficult to follow (the ghost thing, I mean), but it is, overall, a solid movie.

‘Guys and Balls’ (Germany)
Release Date:
Oct. 7, 2004
Director: Sherry Hormann
Starring: Maximilian Brückner, David Rott and Rolf Zacher
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Rating: R for sexual content, nudity and language.
Grade: C+

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Photo courtesy of Regent Releasing.

“Guys and Balls” is both a goofy gay romance and a sports movie! It follows Ecki (Maximilian Brückner), who is the goalie of his small-town football team until his teammates discover that he’s gay and kick him off. After being ostracized in town both because of his sexuality and because of a big mistake he made that cost the team the game, he heads to the big city to put together an all-gay football team with whom he plans to beat his old teammates and redeem himself once and for all. A series of zany high jinks ensue, a lot of which rely on offensive stereotypes, but it all comes together in time for the climactic final scene at the big game. Ecki, at least, is a dopey but likeable character, and the movie is, overall, pretty silly, even though it does attempt to feature some serious storylines. It’s just okay, though.