And today I will take a break from what I usually post about to talk about one of the greatest joys of my life…being a fangirl.
I have to be totally 100% honest when I say that the reason I got into Korean culture and learning the language is because of k-pop. K-pop and Korean dramas, but mostly k-pop. K-pop, with their attractive boys and girls, pretty costumes, beautiful sets, catchy songs, and sexy dances, is really, really appealing. And, like many other young girls, I fell madly in love with perhaps the cutest boys on earth.
But it’s not just the visual factor that keeps me going. Reflecting back on my almost three years as a pretty fervent k-pop fan, I have come to realize that what makes me coming back for more is the incredible level of unity and friendship I feel within the k-pop community. It’s not just me and just me liking a song or a music video or a boy group. It’s me, spazzing out with thousands of other fangirls and fanboys AROUND THE WORLD when the music video comes out.
Lately I’ve been keeping up with the SHINee and Infinite fandoms on Tumblr, and I swear, the level of dedication of fans is so awe-inspiring and just downright incredible. When Infinite’s Woohyun celebrated his 21st birthday back in February, there were dozens upon dozens of Inspirits who created picture sets of his best photos and wrote long, emotional letters dedicated to him. And then the thousands of Inspirits liked and reblogged the crap out of the photo sets. I was among them. I even sent Woohyun a tweet saying happy birthday.
And I know there’s a little mistake in the last sentence, but that’s okay. It was my little contribution to the millions upon millions of fans that want to reach out to the idols. Hell, I’m learning Korean so that I can understand my favorite idols. When I understand a whole sentence they say, a little bit of my heart warms up, knowing that I’m a little bit closer to them. The fact that Woohyun probably never read my tweet is saddening, but I’m okay with it. He has so many fans that do so much for him and the rest of the Infinite members – I just wanted to show my support in the very small way that I could.
Now on to SHINee. The past two weeks have been crazy hell for Shawols everywhere. Ever since SM announced that SHINee would finally be making a comeback after 18-something months of Korean prime-time inactivity, Shawols have been ecstatic. Finally, their five beloved SHINee boys would be coming back with a new single!! I’d just joined the SHINee world about two months ago, so I can’t really express the emotions of a true die-hard Shawol, but I could really feel the amount of love for the boys hardcore Shawols have. Last week alone, Shawols on Tumblr were going crazy trying to predict when SM would be releasing each of the five members’ individual photo teasers. My Tumblr dashboard was filled each night around 7 pm with antsy Shawols wondering what the hell had happened to SM that they weren’t uploading the photo teasers. All of us waited and refreshed our Tumblrs with bated breath as the teasers finally came out, one by one. And when the photos came out, Tumblr Shawols did what they did best – edit and collage the hell out of them. And then the notes piled up. Soon, each of the members had collages with up to 2-3,000 notes. The power of Shawols.
This past Sunday, I woke up at around 6 am to find out that the music video teaser and the digital album would be released soon. Shawols once again scrambled together to wait for the teasers, and then also edited and gif-ed the hell out of the short 39 second teaser. But it wasn’t until this morning (Tuesday) at 11 AM that I truly felt the love. Apparently, at 11 AM Tuesday (00:00 Wednesday KST), the full music video was to be uploaded onto SM’s home page on YouTube. The time came and went, and with no music video uploaded, Shawols went absolutely NUTS. They spammed the comments section of the music video’s teaser video like there was no tomorrow. For a whole hour, I turned on automatic comments and just watched the comments streaming in like the opening of a dam. A dam that had been in hibernation for EIGHTEEN MONTHS. It was probably one of the most amusing hours of my life. Here are some memorable YouTube comments that I’ve saved:
did the uploader fall asleep?
guys. just breath…there OMG WHERE IS THE FUCKING MV???
sm is too busy preparing for exo’s new teasers
I’M GOING CRAAAAAAAAZZZY!!! >:((((((
STOP JOKING AND UPLOAD THE MV RIGHT NOW!!! -____-
Not here yet? I faked sick and didn’t go to school for this! *anxious*
I am eating popcorn while reading comments on atomatic mode LMAO (dead serious)
I could seriously wait hours while doing this lol so helarious XD
only SHINee can get a over a million views for a 39 second teaser :P
I am very very frustrated right now.
OMFG SM, YOU’VE JUST TROLLED US.
GET READY FOR SHAWOL’S REVENGE
BRING THE BOOOOOOOOOOOOYS OUT
IM SO FURIOUS YEAHHHHH~
maybe SHINee will upload short videos telling us where to look for the MV
Oh I’m so curious Yeah~
Oh I’m so curious(what SM is doing now) Yeah~
This is not the reality we wanted.
EVERY REFRESH = NEW TOP COMMENT. POWER OF SHAWOLS
Calm the fuck down, people. It’s not like SM had been punctual before. Give the slowpokes some time to figure this shit out.
people we broke youtube again ……
This went on and on. Until people had to go to sleep, or school, or work, or they simply grew tired of waiting and decided that SM simply wasn’t going to release the video at that time. It’s still not released, and we Shawols are at a loss of when SM will release it. But one thing is sure – through this ordeal, I learned the power of Shawols and k-pop fans. In the span of an hour, SHINee’s music video teaser accumulated over thousands of comments. Oh how I love you, my fellow Shawols.
When people think about the demographic of people who are k-pop fans, they think they’re all pre-teen Asian girls. They could not be more wrong. I’ve encountered k-pop fans from all around the world – England, France, Italy, Sweden, Switzerland, Colombia, Brazil, Peru, Malaysia, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore – just to name a few. People who don’t speak Korean at all and who cannot understand the language nonetheless devote tons of their time to Korean music and culture. This absolutely astounds me. How this has happened is completely beyond me, but it really floored me. At this time, I realize that I have never been more proud of being a k-pop fan. I truly believe k-pop has the power to change the world. It already has. It’s brought people from thousands of miles away with nothing in common to become a tight-knit community of people who have to come to understand and love each other. If that’s not world-changing, I don’t know what is. K-pop doesn’t have to be a charity to change lives. I know of countless people whose lives were changed by k-pop, and thus they give much of their time and energy to giving back to the stars who changed their lives.
As long as I live, I will remember this special and precious time of my life – when I was a k-pop fan. I don’t think it will last forever, and I certainly don’t believe any of the other k-pop fans expect it to either, but it’s just such a unique thing that I will forever remember and treasure. Thank you k-pop and thank you fellow fans, for making my life so much brighter and warmer.
So last Friday I finally got my butt down to Yeouido, where the KBS Broadcasting Station is located, to see Music Bank.
Now I have to precursor you guys on what it means to “see” Music Bank (or any other music show). Each artist/group has to do about 15-30 minutes of pre-recording before the live show, which starts at 6 pm (for Music Bank). The recordings start late morning and end before the live show. Each group that is performing that week, whether it be Super Junior or F.T. Island, or whoever else, has to pre-record their performance several times before the start of the live show, so that instead of rushing between set changes, some groups might not get to perform it live during the live show (I’m not sure who doesn’t get to perform…I might have to get back to you on that one).
Getting into the pre-recordings: It’s not hard to get into the pre-recordings. All you have to do is show up at the KBS Station about 2 hours before the start of pre-recording with a copy of the latest album of the group you want to see. You will almost always need this in order to get in. Go to the person in charge of the fan club (they will probably be wearing a badge that says they are fan club staff) and tell them you want to see the show. Show them your album, and they will collect your name and (in my case) write a number on your wrist. And then all you have to do is wait until the pre-recording starts, and then enter with everyone else :)
What to do in the pre-recording: The authorities say no photography or videos once you’re inside the KBS Building, and if you’re caught, you will probably be thrown out. They’re kind of strict about this. My friend, however, sneaked a picture inside the studio…so it is possible, if you’re sly enough. Fangirls (in my experience, a lot more girls than guys love kpop) are SO crazy. When I went to see Infinite, the girls around me were all screaming the members’ names at the top of their lungs, and waving incessantly, in the attempt to have the members wave and smile at them. And the fan chants during the actual pre-recording performances are so intense. Half the time my ears were bleeding from the fangirl screams. It’s like you’re at a sports match or something….maybe this is the sports culture of Korea :o
About the live show: I’ve never had any experience getting into the live show, and none of my friends have had either. For Music Bank, Music Core, and Inkigayo, there’s apparently some lottery system online for getting tickets. This most certainly requires a Korean social security number, which none of us have. There really must be another way to get tickets to the live show, but I just haven’t figure it out yet. I hear that Music Core is possible, but you’d have to get there really in the morning, and right now I don’t have that kind of patience. I will update later if I get any more information.
Now, finally let’s get to my experience!
So I got to the KBS Station via the National Assembly station on Line 9 (next to Yeouido). Unfortunately I don’t quite remember the exit I took right at this moment, but I will update with that information later. The KBS building is quite close to the subway, only about a 5-10 minute walk away. When you get to the KBS Station, make a right at the first intersection (after the traffic bars) and walk straight until you see a sign for KBS Hall (written in Korean), turn left, and walk up the stairs. It’s like an open space with a roof overhead, and the entrance to the recording studio is to the right. Find the fan club staff roaming around in that area.
This is what the place looked like when I got there (the entrance is actually on the left side of this picture):
And we waited a longer than I thought we would, actually. We were supposed to enter for Infinite at around 2:30 and I think we waited all the way until 4:10 pm…and I might’ve caught a cold, but it’s so worth it. INFINITE!!
And once we got in, I was so amazed. The studio was a lot smaller than I thought, but the set was beautiful! Really gorgeous. They were promoting Paradise, which I think is a great song. The choreography is really smooth, less intense than the Be Mine choreo, but great nonetheless. And the boys…well, they were a lot smaller than I thought they would be. They were sooo skinny, like malnutritioned kids from a third world country. Yes, I did just have to make that comparison. They looked exactly the same as they did on camera, so that was a happy surprise. Myungsoo looked really tired, so he was the only one who was not really waving back at us, but all the others were really enthusiastic at waving and smiling at us. It was a really good experience. I really didn’t want it to end, but sure enough, after 3 takes, the security guards were ushering us out the door. They were a bit rude about it too, but oh well.
Afterwards, we went to Handel & Gretel, which is the little cafe owned by Yesung (from Super Junior)’s parents. It’s right outside the main KBS gate – you cannot miss it. It was beyond adorable, but it was tiny as hell. We had to sit outside in the cold >___< Here are some pictures of the place.
And there’s the conclusion of my first attempt at going to Music Bank! I will actually be going back again this week, and seeing if I can get any more information. Hope this was helpful and I love reading comments, so please do comment below!