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Week-long campout by thousands of fans at Citi Field shows the ballooning popularity of K-pop music

WILLETS POINT, QUEENS -- It's the biggest trend in music that you may have never heard of.

Then again, K-Pop -- Korean pop music -- has been popular, especially in the New York metro area, for years. It's now going mainstream in the U.S., and a clear sign of the expanding trend is the tent city growing here, in the Citi Field parking lot.

It's where the music genre's most popular band, BTS, is scheduled to play on Saturday night. It will be the first time ever that a Korean entertainment act of any sort has sold out a stadium in the U.S. In the case of BTS, the scene outside of Citi Field shows the loyalty of the band's fans, as much as it demonstrates the musical act's popularity.

"They're over all good people, and want to do good things for the world," said BTS fan Kelsey Dewan, 24, about the seven-member boy band, "And that's personally for me why I love them."

Dewan is the Korean pop sensation's number two fan, literally. Written on the back of her hand was the number 2, indicating that she is the second in line for the more than 5,000 tickets released for general admission on the ground at Citi Field, surrounding the stage, at the Saturday concert.

The 40,000 or so other fans have seated tickets, which sold out in just eight minutes, months ago.

Meanwhile, the fans who've set up tents -- hundreds of them -- outside Citi Field, with the stadium's permission, have also set up their own numbering system for receiving general admission floor tickets. It's first come, first served, but also allows people in line to leave to get food, or even to shower or sleep at nearby hotels, and not lose their place in line, provided they have a friend to hold their place.

"It's all, like, personal," said Crystal Lee, 19. She was describing BTS, but also said that the band's vibe reflects that of the people gathered for days in advance to hear them. "It's part of being the youth generation," said Lee, who is from Flushing, Queens.

She was in the small minority of local fans who'd chosen to camp out while awaiting their favorite band's arrival. The vast majority of campers were from vastly different parts of the country.

"I'm from New Orleans, Louisiana," Trey Baker, 21, told PIX11 News. "It's my first time in New York, in the big city."

Fan Dani Mattis pointed out that she's from "South Florida, about an hour from Miami," in Lake Worth.

Like so many of the thousands of people camped out at Citi Field, Mattis had come here after having been at other BTS shows around the country and the world on the band's current tour.

The camping fans said it's worth it all in order to connect with BTS. The band has so much superstar appeal that its seven members -- Kim Seok-Jin, Kim Nan-joon, Min Yoon-gi, Jung Ho-seok, Park Ji-min, Kim Tae-hyung, and Jeon Jeong-guk, were invited to speak at the United Nations during its General Assembly meetings last week.

They were the first band to receive such an honor. The group does extensive fundraising and campaigning for the United Nations Children's Fund.

Even though the band made history by addressing the world at the U.N., its fans said that with each performance and song release, BTS also speaks to them personally and individually.

"It's cool," said fan Kimberly Weihert, from the Central Valley of California. "Most of us don't speak the language" of the band, she said, but added that music is actually the communication medium for the legion of fans, who call themselves BTS ARMY.

"We feel the same issues [the band is] going through, and everything is universal, and everything is just nice."

The Citi Field concert is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Saturday.

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