On January 12, Stray Kids packed up to leave for their first offline performance abroad in a while at Riyadh Season 2022, in Saudi Arabia. Hordes of news reporters were present to cover their Incheon airport arrival. However, the premises were further overloaded with a cavalcade of fans rushing in.
As soon as the men arrived, they were mobbed horrendously throughout the lobby. The mobbing was captured on a livestream, where fans even found Felix tripping and falling. Many believed it was due to the mob violating his personal space.
“Where's their security?” Fans vent frustration at the people mobbing Stray Kids at airport
Nearly two years later, Stray Kids will be performing their viral hits and latest songs at the Riyadh Season 2022 festival in Saudi Arabia. The only other K-pop artist set to perform on the same stage is the legendary soloist Chungha. As fans waited to get a real-time look at the group’s airport arrival, the moment soon turned sour.
Stray Kids lined up for a group photo upon arriving at the airport. However, the moment they crossed the road to enter the gates, hordes of fans flooded in out of nowhere.
International fans watched the livestream as members were sandwiched between guards on either side. Each moment was laced with growing anxiety, especially knowing that some members are camera shy and feel anxious in large crowds.
Even the two security boundaries weren’t enough to keep fans away. The members were squeezed between the guards, leaving hardly any gap for them to walk. Mobile and professional cameras were shoved in the members' faces. At one point, the K-pop group even held onto each other to avoid being swayed by the crowd.
International fans expressed concern over members being squished at the airport, especially with people violating COVID regulations. They believed it was unnecessary and disrespectful to invade the members' personal space and disregard the pandemic altogether.
Making matters worse, Stray Kids’ rapper Felix tripped and fell while entering the gates. Some fans believe it was because of a push from the crowd while others felt he might have tripped on his own.
Enraged fans started requesting better security with previous examples of guards protecting other artists from fans running towards them.
Fans speculate over Bang Chan removing his display picture
While none of the Stray Kids members talked about the airport mob, leader Bang Chan removed his display picture from the fan-artist app, Bubble. Changed shortly after the airport arrival, the blank profile picture led fans to speculate that it was the leader’s subtle way to express his dismay towards the fans.
Bang Chan has sent indirect hints on Bubble time and again, such as when STAY, ARMY and BLINK fandoms engaged in an ugly fanwar. At the time, he changed his status to “Behave” which a majority of fans believed was his way of asking STAYs to stop participating in the fanwar.
Meanwhile, the group’s arrival in Riyadh was peaceful as fans stood behind fences and a large area was cleared for the idols to walk through. The fandom compared the scenario and praised Saudi Arabian STAYs for keeping a distance and letting members walk freely.
Meanwhile, Stray Kids will be performing at Expo2020's K-pop Concert along with PSY, Sunmi, (G)I-DLE, GOLDEN CHILD and FORESTELLA in Dubai on January 16, 2022.