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[Herald Review] At 'Carat Land,' Seventeen vows to go for another 20 years

K-pop band Seventeen announces April comeback at Sunday fan meeting

K-pop band Seventeen holds the last day of its fan-meeting
K-pop band Seventeen holds the last day of its fan-meeting

An end opens the door to another beginning, as boy band Seventeen wrapped up its fan meeting only to begin the countdown to its April comeback.

The act's seventh fan meeting, "Seventeen in Carat Land," was held over three days from Friday to Sunday at the KSPO Dome in Seoul's Olympic Park. Carat is the name of the band’s fandom.

Welcoming fans to the last day of its fan event on Sunday, Seventeen members appeared on the stage singing their 2016 song "Pretty U," the title song from the act's first LP, "First Love & Letter."

The 13 members went up close to the audience from the start, jumping out into the extended stage that crossed in between the crowd. Here, they held up handmade banners with messages that each of the members had written.

"As it's the last night, we're going to set the show on fire, and we hope you guys can also leave tonight with no regrets," Woozi shouted out.

Warming up the crowd with "My My," the group gathered at center stage for a sit-down talk session. Seventeen's eight years of expertise really shined here as the 13 members managed to pull through the session together without an emcee or a script.

The members spread out again into the corners with the group's 2020 song "Together," encouraging the crowd to stand on their feet. The act's unit BSS -- consisting of Seungkwan, DK and Hoshi -- teamed up with the night's guest member Vernon for the trio's latest single "Fighting."

K-pop band Seventeen holds the last day of its fan-meeting
K-pop band Seventeen holds the last day of its fan-meeting

Blazing through a relay of solo cover stages from each of the members, the event eventually turned into a massive karaoke party, and fans started to call out requests to which the members danced and sang spontaneously. Jun, backed by the other members, belted out G-Dragon's "Crooked," while Mingyu and Hoshi coupled up for "Trouble Maker."

Fans fully immersed themselves into the show, even teaching moves for NewJeans' "Hype Boy" to the members from their seats.

The remainder of the fan-meeting was mostly devoted to performances, as the members went through songs not often performed at regular concerts. The group broke into its units, with the performance team showcasing "Back It Up," the vocal team, "Imperfect Love," and the hip-hop team, "Pang!" Gathering back together, the act continued to rock the night with "Don Quixote."

K-pop band Seventeen holds the last day of its fan-meeting
K-pop band Seventeen holds the last day of its fan-meeting

Nearing the end of the four-hour party, the mood inside the dome shifted completely.

Just as the group began cooing to its ballad song "Circle," handwritten letters from each of the 13 members' parents appeared on the large screen behind the stage. The hall seemed to fall silent as the members and fans locked their eyes on the screen to read the letters.

Despite his repeated pledges not to cry that night, Woozi, along with several other members, burst into tears as the heartfelt words rooting for the boys flashed by slowly on the screen.

When the bandmates fell silent, overtaken by uncontrollable tears and emotions, the fans filled in with their own singing. The audience raised their voices to sing "Us, Again," and the crowd turned into a flush of pink and purple as fans held up banners with lines from the song's lyrics.

Slowly, Seventeen members joined in to harmonize with the Carats.

Closing the seventh chapter of "Carat Land," Sunday night was a testament to the eight years of friendship with the Carats, having turned the annual fan meeting into a home for the 13 men, and even their families, where they could embrace their true selves.

"I realized again tonight how much Carats and families mean to us. We can become vulnerable in front of Carats like this because we trust you guys that much. Thank you so much for cheering for us," Joshua said.

S. Coups opened up about their vulnerabilities inside.

"Last year wasn't an easy one for us, not just from work but from personal issues. I assume that's why the members are showing tears like this at Carat Land, because we feel at home here," the Seventeen leader said. "I feel proud realizing again how deeply Seventeen and Carats have come to trust each other. Wonwoo's father told us to go on for 20 years more. He's like our leader, so we should follow his words. We'll work hard to keep his words."

"I miss mom more tonight," Wonwoo said, gulping back tears as he spoke of his late mother. Wonwoo's mother passed away in April 2022. "My mom had really loved how I was (on the stage) and Carats as well. I'll work harder to stay where I am."

Jun shared his genuine affection for his fellow members and fans. "I really hope that members and Carats can be happy. I think it's about time that the members have their own hobbies and spend time on it when resting. Carats too. As much as you like us, I hope you work hard in your life, enjoy hobbies and be happy."

K-pop band Seventeen holds the last day of its fan-meeting
K-pop band Seventeen holds the last day of its fan-meeting

Hoshi brightened up the mood by trying to speak in English.

Switching back to Korean, Hoshi said, "So we've renewed our contracts, which means we need to make new albums. Our new contracts last for quite a long time, so you won't have to worry.

Hoshi continued, breaking out the big news. "As I always say, we never come out if we're not confident, and we have one out that we feel is ready! We're working on it with confidence."

Seventeen wrapped up the night with "Healing" and a seemingly endless repeat of BSS' "Fighting," which all the members took part in this time, almost exhausting themselves of all their energy before leaving the stage.

Peeping out from behind closed curtains, S. Coups announced the group's comeback, saying, "Carats, see you again in April!"

Seventeen debuted under Pledis Entertainment in May 2015 with its first EP "17 Carat." In July 2021, the agency announced an early renewal of contracts with all 13 members, making Seventeen the first case where a boy band of over 10 members unanimously renewed contracts.

Following its comeback in April, Seventeen is set to fly to Japan in May to hold its first dome fan meeting tour. Titled "Love," the series will take place on May 17-18 at the Kyocera Dome in Osaka and on May 27-28 at the Tokyo Dome.



By Choi Ji-won (jwc@heraldcorp.com)
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