Tale of three TN girls passion for BTS band spurs ‘journey to Seoul’

PTI, Jan 7, 2024, 2:42 PM IST

Chennai: Never in their wildest dreams, three school girls of a village, tucked away in a sleepy region of Karur district had imagined that their passion for music and dance would one day goad them to take the path unknown; of attempting to travel to a foreign country with little money and without passports.

Passionate fans of BTS, the hugely popular Korean pop band, the girls, all aged 13 and students of Class 8 in a state-run school, decided to go all the way to Seoul, the South Korean capital, to meet their loved stars.

“They took a firm decision to somehow meet the BTS stars and shortlisted the seaports of Thoothukudi in Tamil Nadu and Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh to take a ship to South Korea and they eventually chose Visakhapatnam,” a Child Welfare Committee official told PTI.

The girls quietly stepped out of their homes on January 4 and reached Chennai after taking a train from Erode, which is near Karur.

Since the girls did not return home, their parents lodged a complaint with Karur police, who alerted authorities state-wide and began searches.

Though the teenagers together had just about Rs 14,000 with them, their savings, they naively believed that they could still make it. After much difficulty, they got a room in a Chennai hotel on Thursday night and were under the impression that they could take a ship to Seoul without passports.

On Friday, their desperate attempts to go ahead dragged them from pillar to post and they lost all energy. Left with no choice, they boarded a train from Chennai to reach their homes.

“At Katpadi railway station, when they got down at mid night to buy food, they missed the train. Police personnel spoke to the children and Child Line authorities and we were alerted,” P Vedanayagam, head of Vellore District Child Welfare Committee said.

They were accommodated in a state-run facility in Vellore district and their parents were summoned and counselling sessions were held for the children and their parents.

“We learnt that the girls knew the minutest details about the BTS band and the stars, the way they dressed and what not; they had bought shoes similar to the ones used by the pop band stars.”

The BTS stars were their inspiration and unhindered access to smartphones led to obsession. “It was very clear to us that they yearned for a life of dance and music.” However, their decision ‘to go abroad’ to chase their dreams was a terrible mistake and this was conveyed to them politely.

The official said the children were encouraged to focus only on studies which would help them realise their dreams, whatever it may be.

“We told the children about the importance of education and its value and advised the parents to keep an eye on what their children do.” The teens were told that smartphones and the internet, though useful in everyday life, should be utilised primarily for education related purposes.

“The family background of the children too cannot be ignored. In the case of one girl, it was a single parent. Another girl’s father is mentally challenged. The mothers of these girls work as farm labourers. They have little or no time to monitor what their children do and what they want.”

The parents were requested to make suitable arrangements to take care of their children to ensure that they get support and guidance. After counselling, the children were sent to their home district with their parents and they took a train on January 6 night.

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