more than u ever wanted to know bout baby's first kpop concert
I'm blogging about this first so it'll be furthest toward the bottom later, hahahhaa. CUNNING AMIRITE.
So anyway, I live in Korea now. It's awesome. We'll get to that in Normal Blog Posts About Normal Things. This is not one of those though soooo yeah ITS ABOUT KPOP GET READY also there r lots of links any thing that's red click dat get into it o k
A bunch of the teachers and I were all talking about it – it being that at home we are freaky peeps who can virtually 100% guarantee that in any possible room in any building in town, we will be the only person who has any idea who, say, Choi Minho is. Here in my normal classroom day at work I’ve got 5th-grade girls reading me their worksheets on how to describe what people look like: “Minho is very handsome. He is tall. He has big eyes.” HOW DO YOU EVEN KNOW WHO HE IS.
(ex. 1A: now u know who he is too)
IDK, man. It’s like I had a super, super shady habit at home that was the kind of thing you
a. only got info about via the internet, never ever irl, and
b. switched tabs with the hypersonic speed of a cheetah made of lightning if anyone walked by while you were getting said shady internet info.
It’s not like you could just merrily browse pictures of 90-pound dudes, all jet eyeliner and feathered red extensions, dressed as gay gas station attendants from another planet and saying things like “loverholic robotronic”.
You would be, you know, a weirdo.
==S U R P R I S E== suddenly everyone from age 8 to 80 knows it upside down and backwards!!!!!
The grocery store will play it while you browse bananas. The cell phone stores (of which there are like 8 per square city block) will blast Gangnam Style out into the sidewalk when you catch the bus. The bus will play f(x) on the huge flatscreen TV that is, surreally, installed behind the driver. Your students will come to class with pencils and fans emblazoned with BAP’s heavily eyelinered faces, and ask who you think is cutest. Your co-workers will be watching T-ARA concert footage at lunch (he did look sheepish when I caught him, though).
The sweatshirt I’m wearing came with a tag of all 9 members of SNSD, my laundry detergent has a picture of Song Joongki on it, my moisturizer was on the shelf behind a life-size (INCREDIBLY CREEPY) cardboard cutout of Shinee, the chicken I had for dinner came in a paper bag emblazoned with Super Junior dressed as spies, the women on either side of me on the subway back from Myeongdong were both watching Sulli moon over Minho’s big cow eyes in To the Beautiful You…idk man, it’s almost too much for me. I’m Kpop ODing on the complete, completely public, saturation of stuff I used to be totally alone in knowing about and it's realllllllly weird
ANYWAY SO THE MORAL IS I LIKE KPOP SOMETIMES and am super embarrassed about it mostly, but apparently need not be anymore as I am in GROUND ZERO of kpop
so when I found out about a FREE concert with a whole bunch of groups, hell yeah we were going.
we being me and homegirl V, fellow ESL teacher from Canadia.
First off, you were supposed to get tickets if you were a “Foreigner Residing in Korea” by registering with your ARC number. Let’s review: ARCs are the friggin’ philosopher’s stone and/or Fountain of Youth for EPIK teachers. We HUNGER for this thing, and have to stand in 9-hour lines in the Korean DMV for them, and can’t get phone or internet without it, blah blah
Anyway we don’t have them. We are sad. V, because she is upstanding, emailed the concert ppl to ask if she could still go…I, um, skipped that step and went straight to…um, truth…stretching. AKA there were also tickets you could get for free as a “Foreign Tourist” who was visiting Korea for less than 90 days.
I…might have said that was me. Not to worry, V later got an email saying it was okay for us to come that way and we were aboveboard, but, hm, as I pressed send I was like “WOW KPOP HELLUVA DRUG already breakin the law 4 u” etc bad news etc.
SO WE GET CONFIRMATION TICKETS. For freeee. You have to bring your passport (to prove you are a tourist), and this number, and a receipt from a restaurant or attraction in Incheon.
Incheon is a city two hours or so outside of Seoul. Concert is at 7:30 pm. Tickets start being distributed at 11am…..Guess when we got there. Yes, I awoke, on a SUNDAY, at 7am, stumbled to my metro station, and we embarked on the 2-hour metro trip to this other city with our coffee milk and strange pastries.
And we got there!! At 10:30am. And …wait a minute, a receipt from Incheon! Okay, scavenger hunt….
yeah news flash, around Munhak Sport Complex and Stadium, there are a total of NO RESTAURANTS and no attractions. We started walking…and walking…and walking…we're way off the stadium ‘hood now and we’re like “@$^$!!! WHERE IS SOME FOOD HERE HOW DO THEY EAT” like seriously, ANY place that will sell us ANYTHING so we can get these freaking tickets we just rode for two hours to this random city for…it’s, um, greenhouses?
And more greenhouses
and…a rooster …… some apartments ……..a greenhouse ……
we see ONE place that’s open, this tiny one-old-man kimbap shop way the heck in the middle of nowhere. Cue shenanigans:
V+Dode: HI ANNYEONHASAYO KIMBAP JUSEYO
Old Ahjusshi: /something in Korean, presumably ‘what kind of kimbap’
V+Dode: /can’t understand menu UMMM LITERALLY ANYTHING OKAY
Old Ahjusshi: /starts making kimbap
at this point we notice there is not a cash register in this establishment. There is literally not a receipt-making device in this place. Are you joking me.
V+Dode: /frantically flipping through Korean phrasebook
Old Ahjusshi: /something in Korean, presumably ‘Here’s your kimbap’
V+Dode: UM!! yongsujung piryoheyo??
Old Ahjusshi: /hands us random piece of paper
V+Dode: Er…dugae? Two? Hana, dul…two receipts, um dul yongsujung?
Old Ahjusshi: /look of confusion
/hands us two dollars
V+Dode: No no! Dugae, um yongsujung? Reciepts?
Old Ahjusshi: /look of confusion
/hands us two kimbap
V+Dode: Oh my god, uhhh no; yongsujung hana, yongsujung dul…
IT WAS A MESS. A HOT BILINGUAL MESS. anyway he handed us two pieces of paper…
….which were blank. like, two blank receipts. But there’s literally nowhere else to go, so we’re like WHATEVER PLEASE MAY THIS WORK O LAWD and hike the huge hike back up the hill to the stadium.
And stood in line some more. Also I didn’t bring my real passport because I was afraid they’d see the Visa that says I’m not actually a tourist, and it was really hot, and we met all these other foreigners who had really really crap assigned seats because they hadn’t, er, emailed and/or finangled and it was freaking us out, and AAAH LET ME IN PLS
and they did!!! well, they gave us tickets. at 11am. for a concert that began at 7:30pm. also the doors didn’t even open until after 4pm. KPOP FANS THY NAME IS DEDICATION
precious kimbap and sun-shy kpop fans fleeing sunburn under many umbrellas!
so long really boring story short, I asked a staff girl if there was reaaaally any benefit in us sitting there baking on the pavement for eight friggin’ hours since our tickets said we were in SECTION 4, and she said lol not really, and also there’s a Joseon Dynasty historical site a block to the north that’s cool just saying!
so we went and
it was the best
the place, an old Joseon district capital, is totally FREE, and full full full of hands-on stuff – a huge number of Korean traditional games, costumes to try on, buildings to tour…it was amazing! then there were these ahjummas under tents who called us over…to make our own Korean snacks! also for free! we tried to ask where we could donate (“where…money…put? give?”) but they were like No no no!! Learn about Korea!!
Long loooong story short, we spent the day frolicking through free snacks and games and historical sites and costumes and then stopped for beer and kimbap and iced coffee and strolled around, aaaaaand
we ended up about ten full rows ahead of the people who sat in line for 8 hours. Whoooooooops.
SO THE CONCERT OKAY I’M GETTING THERE IT WAS SUPER INTENSE
cliffnotes: Koreans are SUPER organized. we had sections and staff guides and there were, no joke, about twenty full buses of police, and rows of ambulances, did I mention police EVERYWHERE, and we sat with a super cute girl from China who had a light-up bow that said SUNGYEOL and an Infinite lightstick and shared her tasty peanut butter cookies as we waited ANOTHER THREE HOURS because did I mention it was 4pm and it started at 7:30.
top: stadium, capacity 52,000 people, starts filling up
bottom: lots and lots of fancy cameras!!
~~fast forward three long hours of watching kpop videos on the huge screen intermixed with looooong ads about sustainable architecture in Incheon and the Incheon Asian Games (“I high-fived a flying pink seal today!”) ~~
IT WAS DARK. THERE WERE A LOT OF LIGHTSTICKS. THEY GAVE US BALLOONS.
there were also about 40 empty seats in the VIP section
that’s kind of crappy
especially since this is being filmed and also those seats are right near the front
boy, that would look bad
so we…went up to the guard guy and he…lifted up the barrier ??? so we snatched our bags and just ran on in there under his arm and the barrier
where we sat with the organizers, the sponsors, and the mayor of Incheon??
so finally, F I NA L LY (you’re like “tell me about it how long is this novel jfc”) IT STAAARTED
and the MCs came out
okay so longtime readers, my people, jog your memory to my last trip to Korea and that entry about a musical and rapturous honeymagicvoice boy I was like super jazzed about… mmhm same dude. Is hosting. With his bandmate and also some random lady?
HIIIII IT’S BEEN TWO WHOLE YEARS HIIIII
they were rly dumb and I lurve them.
photo i took with own camera while seeing them with own eyes 1!!11!!
So there were SO MANY GROUPS WOW and most of them sounded the same? Let's be real most of kpop is, ummmm super derivative sry bout it. but some were good! I was particularly happy to see Infinite because even if their new song is...kind of derivative (shockers!!!!) their first debut song was really REALLY fresh and cool when it came out, and also they are probably the sharpest group dancers
ex. 2A tashi dorawa check them moves amirite
idk dude i think you need more eyeliner maybe !!
then was IU who is very very young and really good! her stage was also super cute but not in a gross infantile-sexy way which lots of the girls are:
also good was wooyoung who just went solo like ten minutes ago and his song is called, yes, "sexy lady" but I DARE you not to want to bust out those head moves in the chorus ok catchy times there
also there was a guy in like your grandma's curtains paired with an oversize XXL cardigan and a bow tie rapping hard gangsta style NO! NO! NO! NO! NO MERRRRCY!! which was ummm surreal
also catherine!! there was 4minute whose rapper is the chick from the gangnam style video for all you 'muricans out there, at any rate when they debuted i thought they were THE WORST so I was totally happily surprised that their set was really fun and bass-boosted and rockin
who knew i would be waving a lightstick to 'hot issue' in this lifetime !??
Then the old businessman next to us in the VIP section, because he was actually a real VIP and not a, um, sneaky poser fangirl, had a schedule, and he was like HEY GIRL WITH THE BLINKING LIGHT-UP SHINEE HEADBAND, THEY ARE NEXT BTW and this of course ~spread like wildfire~ and then the MC girl appeared alone so everyone in the back stands of the stadium lost their shit, and then a huge burst of red and white fireworks shot out of the front of the stage, and then there were five dudes on the stage ….!
I cannot express to you the sound that place made.
I’ve been to big sporting events, duh, so I thought I knew what a stadium of 30,000 screaming people sounded like…HA HA NO. One forgets that Sounders fans include a lot of, um, men, and when someone scores it’s a RRROOOOAR but people are doing things like cheering, or saying ‘YESSS’ or fistpumping and making manly hooting sounds, I don’t know – all I know is the sound of 30,000 girls screaming a lung out through their larynx is like nothing I had ever heard before. We were experiencing decibel levels and ranges previously unimagined, okay. CRAZINESS. C R A Z I N E S S.
so the sound of them is all messed up (in real life they were R E AL L Y loud, but like, do you hear that roaring sound do you hear that
also do u hear that yes this concert had everyone actually have to sing live and they doon't messss uppp
also do u hear the sound of 30,000 people having a massivesingalong bc that part was kind of fun ok
So we waved our lightsticks and our balloons and people had signs and also apparent epileptic fits, and there were PYROTECHNICS and the bass boost dialed up to 11 at least, and I was comforted and also discomforted by the fact that actually these are real people who are stone-cold professionals; like, they are actually really really good
So I’d already seen their, uh, leader, as we know, and the really tan tooskinny fashionplate one who’d been MCing, but I don’t care quite so much about, but uhhhhh shhh downlow secret I’m kind of irrationally super attached to their maknae which means baby which okay kpop dynamics are complicated but he’s a boss dancer and rocks a lot of hair extensions and I have a poster of him on my apartment wall maybe??? ANYWAY THERE THEY WERE including slightly demonic maknae and their dumb lovely bro of a main singer who is nicknamed Bling Bling and dinosaur? except not their rapper who is the aforementioned Choi Minho who is busy filming aforementioned drama, so they had a random backup dancer in huge shades to dance his parts in their terribly intricate crazy dance sets
and actually had body mass beyond that of a large cat so looked kind of out of place but whatevs
ANYWAY you don’t care haha but they were the best and I was like feeling claws of mama-bear maternal instinct growing from my fingers because dang, actual professionals who do this classy and on-point for a living and I don’t know if you can see what they, um, actually look like (imagine really attractive! hahaha ahem) but this person is 19 years old and his thigh is the size of my bicep this is not hyperbole umm, UPSETTING. let me give you cupcakes
Then we saw KARA, who are very very famous and popular in Japan, and were wearing what can more accurately be described as bathing suits because they had left “shorts” territory a few inches ago, and kind of were trying slightly too hard on the sexpot front except for Nicole who seems friendly
one of these is V's cos her camera is way superior to my sadly broken dead one
and then the ended with BoA, who surprisingly was MAD popular too, I guess because she’s been around honestly FOREVER – I thought she was over 30 because she’s had such a long career, but noooope she just started hella early. She’s like 25. What have I done with my life?? haha. Anyway she was good BUT she has a couple dance in her single that she has various dudes from her same company come guest for and bawww my malnourished maknae kewpie doll came back and there was a lot of UST but they were real real good
then he left and she sang or, like, something who cares
haha no, she was really good too. Anyway but she was the end! and then 30,000 people tried to vacate through a single subway station all at once! Ha,ha,ha. That was a subway platform right there. I seriously thought we might crush someone and need one of those twenty ambulances after all.
Remember the two hour subway ride to get down to Incheon? Yes! Reprise! It was loooong.
Then I looked at my watch and…it..was…midnight……this is a salient point because THE SUBWAY STOPS RUNNING. This train stopped one stop before my house. SO CLOSE…
…..and yet so far. Definitely ended up hailing my first Korean taxi at one in the morning outside Changdong, which ended up being suuuper stressful because the taxi driver didn’t understand “subway”, “metro”, “tube”, “underground”, or “jihachul”, which is freaking KOREAN FOR SUBWAY, and took me to Ban. Junction instead of Ban. Station, and it was reallllllly stressful and also two a.m.
BUT I MADE IT AND IT WAS AWESOME WHEN DO WE GO AGAIN