Finally, I’ve reached the second last post for my 2013 Summer in Korea Trip.
It’s been one month and a few days since I’ve returned and just a couple of days ago, my friend and I were still reminiscing on the fun times that we had..
I’ve booked my tickets back in March and I was quite persistent in ensuring that my trip includes as many weekends as possible. The main reason was that I could utilize my leave days more effectively and the other reason was that most events (if any) usually happens on the weekends (in Korea).
Everyday after my tickets were bought, I was hoping/praying/wishing that some awesome concert or event (that i am interested in) would miraculously fall on the star dates that I would be in town.
Time and again, I got disappointed as my favourites were all having their comebacks/concerts before my arrival in Seoul. 2PM had their concert in June, Beast had theirs in July. SHINee had their comeback in June. GG, game over, I thought to myself as the date drew closer.
Months went by and finally somewhere in June, it was announced that Shinhwa was having an encore concert for their “15th anniversary concert; Grand Tour – The Classic” which started off in Seoul, March 2013. The concert tour went to 4 other countries, and finally ended at its starting point; Seoul. This concert lasted for 2 days, 3rd and 4th August, attracting up to 27,000 people (average of 13,500 per day; this is how much capacity the Olympic gymnastic stadium can fit) Although I wasn’t a fan of theirs, I ended up with tickets to their concert as my friend’s friend wanted to watch it and I thought that it would be good to experience Korean concert watching culture in my unconventional trip =p
The only thing I knew about Shinhwa prior to buying the tickets was that they sang a song that I like called “Perfect Man” which was in the OST for my favourite Taiwanese drama back in 2002, My MVP Valentine. Apart from that, I knew that they were legendary and once belonged to SM Entertainment, build up in the footsteps of H.O.T.
Getting concert tickets to Shinhwa’s concert from interpark (Korea’s online ticket distributor) was not an easy feat. Despite having countless experience via sistic (Singapore’s ticket distributor), I was no match against those Koreans who probably have an internet speed twice of mine.
You don’t have to worry about the language barrier as they have step by step instructions in english so it is not too difficult to navigate. The Korean ticketing system is actually a lot more flexible as compared to Sistic. Apart from the usual credit card immediate payment, local buyers are allowed to reserve their tickets with an option that they will make payment within 3 days.This allows crazy fans to buy multiple tickets without committing any money. So, you can imagine one individual buying 10 tickets at once, and she doesn’t stop until she gets a good ticket.
Furthermore, even after you make payment for the ticket, you can have the option of full cancellation and refund as long as it is within their cancellation deadline. You can read up more about the cancellation policy here.
Here’s an example of the cancellation policy, I bought this ticket on 12 June, and it gives me one week to do a cancellation without any charges. Even after one week, I still have the option of cancelling the tickets and get back up to 70% of ticket price until the actual concert day!!!!
|Cancellation Date||Cancellation Fee|
|Wed. Jun 12 2013 ~ Wed. Jun 19 2013||None|
|Thu. Jun 20 2013 ~ Thu. Jul 25 2013||4000Won (per ticket) (under 10% of the ticket price)|
|Fri. Jul 26 2013 ~ Sun. Jul 28 2013||10% (of the ticket price)|
|Mon. Jul 29 2013 ~ Thu. Aug 01 2013||20% (of the ticket price)|
|Fri. Aug 02 2013 ~ Sat. Aug 03 2013||30% (of the ticket price)|
After reading and understanding these flexible cancellation policies, I finally understand why the tickets are always sold out within minutes or even seconds =/ Due to its flexibility, it always result in a pseudo “Sold Out” situation where media always publish articles whereby tickets were “SOLD OUT IN 5 MINUTES” etc.
On the date of sales, usually a weekday at Korean time 8PM, 3 of us were on standby on our own computer, ready with our F5 buttons and credit card. Sadly, I did not manage to get a single ticket, neither did another friend.
However, one friend was successful! (TIP: always get help when you want to purchase tickets, more hands => higher success )
The seats were not too bad and you can take a look at my photos later.. I was sitting at area Number 41, the green area on the left side.
To prep myself up for the concert, I forced myself to watch through the older concert DVDs of Shinhwa that I could stream from youtube. This helped me to familiarize myself with their songs! I realise that they were the first singers for “Hey, Come On!” which is a very famous ENERGY (Taiwanese boyband) song.
Prior to the concert, I still couldn’t recognize their names and faces and yes I had to google for this info.
Eric (Leader & Rapper, 34): Co-CEO of Shinhwa Company with Min Woo, Acted in K-dramas.
Min Woo (Dancer & Vocalist, 34): Co-CEO of Shinhwa Company with Eric, Solo Artist, set up own agency, composed and wrote lyrics to many songs.
Dong Wan (Vocalist, 34): Acted in K-dramas, Musicals
Hye Sung (Vocalist, 34): Solo Artist (Korea & Japan)
Jun Jun (Rapper, 33): Acted in K-dramas, Solo Artist, Set up own company
Andy (Rapper, 33): Acted in K-dramas, Solo Aritst, Set up own company, musical, Produced Teen Top, 100%
Anyway, the reason why I spend so much time going through the information is because I realised that Shinhwa is really the longest-standing and most successful boyband thus far.
H.O.T. was very successfully, however their success was short-lived as they disbanded abruptly. The same goes for DBSK which had to go through the painful disbandment as well.. I guess the chemistry between all members of Shinhwa must be really strong for them to stay together, through 15 years, despite whatever happens. One thing we know for sure that the money does trickle down to the individual members now (and not the entertainment company). It’s been 12 years since H.O.T.’s disbandment and 5 years for DBSK.. None of them has followed in Shinhwa’s footsteps, not yet;
The Legendary 2013 Shinwa Grand Finale Concert on 4 August 2013
On the day of the concert, my friend and I were out at Incheon looking for the filming location for Secretly Greatly and since Korea isn’t small, I was running late to meet the other girl for the concert. Since I had no korean number which made it impossible for any contact, we resulted in the old school way of setting an exact location and time to meet and that’s it. Poor friend she had to wait more than 20 to 30 minutes for me =/
Walking to the concert venue from the metro station felt really good even though I wasn’t a fan. There were so many banners so many standees, so many rice donations, so many things to make you sink into the concert atmosphere gradually.
The fans really put in a lot of effort when it comes to such events.. the power of kpop.
I bought a fake lightstick for 4,000W
Alas, it was my first step into the grand Olympic stadium in Seoul – the biggest (I think) indoor concert venue. Something interesting about this hall is that the seats are very cramp and everyone is just packed closely together. Maybe because of the cramp-ness, everyone can have a better view of the stage because it makes you closer to the front, and of course, fitting more people into the stadium.
This was a panorama shot taken using my phone. I guess it can give u an idea on how packed the place is. Yes, it was a real SOLD OUT concert and I could hardly see any empty seats; even at the cheapest zone all the way up! (FYI, no such thing as balcony seats) Also, If you compare the mosh pit to those in Singapore, This mosh pit is totally full to its brim. I wonder if the people inside have space to breathe D:
On our seats, there was an event banner given by some fan club and there’s instructions in 4 languages, Korean, Japanese, Chinese and English. We were to hold it out during the first song of encore.
Alas! The lights darken gradually and the concert has started! There was this parody of some gangster film which I can’t really understand but seeing Shinhwa members dressing in gangster attire of the 1970s was really amusing.
Sadly, there was no english translation and given my poor grasp of Korean language, i felt as though I was watching a mime instead. Nevertheless, the acts were amusing and the cheers and reactions from the audience helped me in understanding the story. I guess I can only wait for the english-sub DVD (if any) to understand the entire concert VCR.
It was a brilliant display of (laser) lights of all colours and random sparks of fireworks. Together with the orange (which look like yellow in my photos) light sticks, and the enthusiastic cheers and cries of the predominantly 99% female (My friend claimed there were guys in the audience but I didn’t see any with my own eyes) crowd of all ages (14 to 60 and beyond), this was definitely a night to remember.
If you notice, almost everyone in the audience has a light stick and it makes the atmosphere really special. I guess if you were a celebrity standing on stage, looking at your fans all waving the same colour… It must be an amazing feeling.
Shinhwa is definitely a very charismatic band, especially for Min Woo who did his job really well. I guess he is usually the joker of the band and also the one to bring up the atmosphere whenever, wherever. It’s cute to observe that each and every of them have a uniquely different characteristic. Leader Eric is usually quiet during the breaks and then his expression-less face becomes a joke for the group who never fails to irritate him despite having nothing to say.
If I zoom in with my camera, I can get very good shots from my seat =)
And yes this was the highlight of the whole concert! The members, 3 on each side came down to the walking aisle between the two seating section. They each stood on a movable platform, which was pushed by human-power underneath. As they move pass me, I was like 3 or 4 rows in front of them. If we knew earlier, we would have scrambled to the front at the start. I guess a couple of people in the audience attended the concert the previous night so they knew exactly when to chiong down. If you were standing at the first row, you can seriously grab their hands or something like that!! They were so close that you can feel like they are looking at you in the eye!
How much cooler can this get?!
I wasn’t lying when I said that you can grab their hands…
How can I let go of such a picture perfect moment? I had my camera on standby, video mode! If you watch my video, this is ultimate close-ness. Throughout all my concert watching experience, this is the second closest I ever got to a celebrity during a concert. (First was during my second row of Jay Chou concert).
I really love this song, Sunset Glow and I realised that it wasn’t a song in their album. In fact, it was more popularly sang by Big Bang. Shinwa really made full use of their extended stage. There were many different stage settings which made the performance that night really special.
And then halfway through, this revolving stage started ascending up!
Not forgetting their endless attempts at fan service.
They never fail to bounce, jump, hop, run, walk around the entire extended stage, hoping to grasp the attention of every single audience in the crowd. Since I only knew 2 songs of Shinhwa – Perfect Man and Hey, Come On! (excluding new songs), I made it a point to record something to make an extended memory linger a little longer. (Anyway, they didn’t sing Perfect Man =( I guess it was left out of the list because they added in a couple of their new songs)
During one of their encore stages, they suddenly had a dance battle which was really entertaining!! It made the crowd cheered unanimously and even though I didn’t know what were their strengths, weaknesses, background etc, it was a fun and spontaneous add-on to the concert. Yea, it was a first time for me, to have such a random dance battle halfway through encore. It really felt like they didn’t want the concert to end.
I’m pretty sure the encore felt like it never ended. Me and my friend were about to get up and go and I even turned and walked a few steps up and suddenly all of them came out again for another bow. It was exhilarating even for a non-fan like me. The screams, the cheers, the atmosphere was simply amazing.Even though I was starving, the hunger pangs didn’t set in till after the concert as there was no space in my brain to absorb that thought.
In my heart, I do acknowledge that this was really the best concert that I have attended if I were to look at things from a non-fan point of view. I guess no other solo artiste, or band or group and replicate the chemistry I saw that night.
It was not just a concert, it was 15 years worth of experience and friendship, it was filled with memories of the die-hard fans who had defy the age brackets to catch their child/teenage days obsession, it was a night to remember.
As mentioned earlier, I had 2 weekends in Seoul and the second weekend of my golden dates belonged to Infinite.
Back then, the only thing I knew about Infinite was that they sang the song “Before the Dawn “and “Be Mine”. Oh, and I know that the Maknae only had one solo part which involves one word “Why..” in the bridge of the first song and in the second song, he upgraded to sing one phrase in the bridge.(Seriously)
Alright, so the plan was not to go for the concert! (Yea.. right..) Somehow, dear friend of mine managed to convince us that there were still leftover tickets and that the price was not too expensive (in comparison to SG prices) and blah blah blah, yes we bought the tickets.
Since I have spend most of my time listening and watching to Shinhwa, the truth is I had no time left for Infinite. Let me give myself and you (the interested reader) a short refresher on what Infinite is all about.
There are 7 members: Sunggyu (24), Dongwoo (23), Woohyun (22), Hoya (22), Sungyeol (22), L (21), Sungjong(20). They debuted in 2010 but only gained popularity after “Before the Dawn” and the popularity just kept soaring up, up and up. They grew successful in the Japanese market too and Hoya, L, Woohyun went into filming. Leader Sunggyu also had a solo mini album.
INFINITE ONE GREAT STEP IN SEOUL 2013 – 9 AUGUST 2013
Alright on the actual day, we were there slightly late (as usual) and I was so worried because the time to collect the ticket was over but no worries, the counter was still open. However, I was supposed to get an official light stick for my customer but it was already OOS by the time I reached.
Walking to the Stadium from the metro station was nicely decorated with rice donations as seen below. If you’re wondering, rice donation is a popular way fans spend their money on. They will pool money to buy rice and donate it to the needy in North Korea on behalf of their idols.
And exactly 5 days ago, it was Shinhwa’s banner. Today, it has been replaced with Infinite. (If I were working as a concert crew, it would have probably been a nightmare. Having to tear down the stage and lighting and build a new one in 4 days.. madness..)
Similar to Shinhwa, there was this board in the middle for people to take photos. I guess this practice must have been a norm for korean concerts?
Looking at the list of countries they are going for the world tour, wow. it’s a whopping total of 18 cities!! This is a pretty impressive feat given that it was only their 4th year since debut. The power of KPOP is pretty amazing. They are even going to countries like Lima?! *WOW* Kpop has really gone halfway round the world.
This was my view from my seat. It was on the right side, opposite of Shinhwa’s concert view. It was slightly towards the middle but further back by a few rows. This time round, the crowd contains more of the younger-than-me generation. (DUH!)
There were some interactions with the crowd. I think they were throwing out paper planes? Can’t really remember. Compared to Shinhwa, they didn’t really use the extended stage as much. Well, Can’t exactly blame them. Inifinite songs have a lot of dance tracks which requires a lot of choreography. So probably it’s not that they don’t wish to walk about more, just that due to the nature of the song they can’t?
Something that I really like is I feel that Infinite vocals were really good. As far as possible, I could really hear the real voice and not lipsync, even at tracks that involves a hard dance routine. I’m quite anal when it comes to live singing.. heh. and i’m glad they did a good job!
Throughout the concert, there were several VCRs which were pretty amusing and once again, due to my poor knowledge of korean, i can’t really understand much.
Infinite did provide a lot of fan service for the mosh pit. A couple of times, I do members taking the polaroid camera from the mosh pit and pose for selcas. Many times, they will just twist, do a heart for the screaming fans. I guess they were all sinking into mood really well and towards the end ohmy one by one, all of them started crying.
There was one member which caught my attention and after googling and youtube-ing a lot, i was really stuck at the moment. Anyway I attached a video of my somewhat bias singing a song which got stuck in my head.. in my head.. in my head..
Okay so as you can see, there’s significantly lesser photos for infinite concert. It seems like the security was tighter for infinite and that they were catching more.. At the same time, there was nothing that I wanted to film from infinite since I had no favourite song or anything.
The members also didn’t come significantly close to me and there were no special stage props or lighting or act worth taking a photo of. Nevertheless, without the fancy stage, without the experienced composure on stage, it was still a brilliant concert.
Plus points for the live singing, plus points for the neat dance choreography, plus points for the fan service, plus points for the tears; it was good enough to make the ticket price worthwhile for screaming fans and casual concert-goers like myself.
Perhaps it was because Shinhwa had set the benchmark too high for me a week ago, I felt that there’s this gap that Infinite has yet to make that great step forward. Then again, Infinite was short of 11 years of experience, and it wasn’t a fair comparison right from the start.
I’m glad to have watched not one, but two Korean concerts in Korea itself. This is in fact my second time watching such an event overseas. My first overseas exposure was when I watched the Golden Melody Awards show back in 2009 in Taipei. It was also my first encounter with super junior as they were the guest performers that evening.
The atmosphere in each country is really uniquely different and I guess artistes always have a special connection if they are performing in their own country. The meaning of the performance tends to be more important.
Really thankful for each and every experience that I have and I hope you enjoyed my entry 🙂
Do check out my other entries in the series as well: