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15 Minutes of Fame: La Jolla Shores resident becomes ‘Adorable BTS Grandpa’ after K-pop concert

This photo of Norm Solomon holding a printed copy of the BTS fan chant went viral on Twitter.
(Courtesy of Judi Solomon)

Are you a La Jollan who has experienced what you would consider your “15 minutes of fame”? If so, the La Jolla Light wants to hear it. This is the first installment in a series that puts the spotlight back on those who had their moment in the sun.

When Norm Solomon agreed to take his wife, Judi, to a BTS concert in November, he thought of it as a treat for his longtime love. Unbeknownst to the La Jolla Shores resident, he soon would become the “Adorable BTS Grandpa” on social media.

BTS, also known as the Bangtan Boys, is a seven-member South Korean pop group.

When the group made its way to SoFi Stadium in Inglewood last fall, the Solomons decided to venture north and attend the concert — with a printed copy of the “BTS Army” (the name given to BTS fans) chant in hand.

“The fans are respectful; they will be quiet when they [BTS] sing, but if there is a break, they will chant until BTS starts singing,” Judi said. “They start each name in age order and then chant ‘BTS.’ It energizes them.”

So that Norm could chant along, Judi printed out the list of names in the right order and gave it to him as the show was about to begin. As Norm took his seat, someone behind him noticed that he was holding a copy of the fan chant and took his picture.

“We didn’t know anything about that, but when we got to the hotel after the show, there were other fans staying there,” he said. “A woman got on the elevator, pointed to me and said, ‘You’re the Twitter guy,’ and I had no idea what she was talking about. We got off the elevator and we searched Twitter for BTS and she discovered my picture was there and it had gotten thousands of likes and thousands of retweets.”

The photo and tweet were soon featured on Korean blogs and news outlets. The picture also was posted on the BTS Army site.

One Twitter user wrote, “Best photo I’ve ever seen … love you grandpa!” Another wrote, “A grandpa Army brought a script with him so he could scream along to the fan chant. I’m crying. This is the ... cutest pic I’ve ever seen.”

Norm said a waiter in La Jolla Shores recognized him as well. “That was kind of funny,” Norm said. “He told everyone in the kitchen about it.”

In April, the Solomons went to Korea and visited a cafe centered on BTS. “We told them the story and it got a big reaction,” Norm said. “There was a couple there that wanted to take a picture with us.”

To commemorate his 15 minutes of fame, Judi made Norm a shirt with his Twitter-renowned photo on it. “I feel like if I wore the shirt in Korea, people would have recognized me,” he said.

The story “tends to make everyone laugh and immediately go to Google. I just wanted to take Judi to a concert because she’s a fan and wanted to be there, but it was fun for me to have this experience about it,” Norm said.

Judi agrees. “I thought it was great because I’m the fan, so I was thrilled with the concert and he was there for me, but this gave him something to be excited about,” she said. “He got to have his moment because of BTS. There is a saying about BTS that you find them when you need them. They were great entertainment and comfort during COVID. I found them when I needed them. I was thrilled that he got attention out of my concert. It turned out to have been fun for all of us.”

Contact Ashley Mackin-Solomon with your 15 Minutes of Fame story at ashleym@lajollalight.com.