Want to go to Korea and see Kpop groups, singers, or even dance crews? This article will give tips on how to see your favorite Korean celebrities based on my experiences!
Kpop is a global phenomenon, rapidly gaining more popularity with every passing day. The competition to become a Kpop star is intense, with many groups never gaining enough popularity to last and make money. Because of this, Kpop groups and singers rely on their fans entirely, and will perform at a variety of events to gain more fans. They are very accessible, although sometimes at an expense.
One common event, especially for rookie groups, is busking. These free outdoor performances might be scheduled in advance or will be pop-up events. Rookie groups take to the street to show off their charms and perform their latest songs, eager for more fans and for their songs to sell.
The areas of Sinchon and Hongdae in Seoul are the most popular places to see these groups, as they are near colleges and shopping areas. I saw my first Kpop group in Sinchon, right next to Yonsei University, where I was studying for the summer. The group was WJSN, also known as the Cosmic Girls.
This is a 13 member group under Starship Entertainment, and the sister group of the now-disbanded Sistar. At the time they were promoting their song Happy, but also sang a few of the B-tracks that went along with the album. Throughout the busking event they made an effort to smile and wave at everyone, posed for pictures, and told jokes to the audience. To finish, they performed their song Secret, my personal favorite of all their songs. Then they packed up and went back to their company, the street returning to its former state quickly, but now with many happy fans.
The next way I was able to see idols was at a music festival. These are more common during the spring and summer and are a great way to see some of your favorite artists perform, as well as see new talent. The cost varies depending on location, an inside event will usually cost more due to air conditioning, and seats were not reserved. I went to the NBA Buzzer Beat Festival and the ticket was 79,000 won, roughly $74. It was a Korean HipHop and R&B festival with more than twenty performers, including Jay Park, Dean (my favorite), Heize, Ravi from Vixx, DPR Live, and Microdot.
(Above, Jay Park, before he took his shirt off)
It was very crowded and hot at times, but was a much more casual and relaxed affair, with only 3-4 songs being performed by each. There were two different tents, both with standing and sitting areas and one with food and free soda. There isn’t any merchandise to buy, because there are so many different performers, but you’re able to get very close to the stage depending on how aggressive you are, and can take as many pictures and videos as you want. The tickets were easy to buy off of Interpark, where they email you the ticket and your receipt.
The most expensive way I was able to see Kpop groups was through a concert. I saw Seventeen’s “The Diamond Edge” 1st world tour concert. These were 99,000 won ($93), and were also easy to buy off of Melon Ticket. This was more of a mob scene, I went with friends and got there more than an hour early, but most merchandise was already bought at the stands and everybody was waiting in line. We were separated into lines based on what area we bought and had to wait for a long time in the heat (South Korea during the summer is brutal). There were a couple food stands but zero trash cans. Finally we were herded into the giant outside concert area, right next to the stage. Eventually they started passing out water bottles and ponchos, just in case it rained. When the concert started, everyone rushed towards the stage and the heat became even more intense. That’s when I figured out why they kept handing out water, because two different girls ending up fainting by the end of the night and needed to be carried out.
The concert was great. It was extremely well rehearsed and fun, with all the members of Seventeen, a 13 member boy group under Pledis Entertainment, walking around the stage to wave at us during the songs without dances. Two members, Seungkwan and Jeonghan, laughed when they saw me, waved, and said hello. I’m assuming it was because I was literally five inches taller than everyone else and stood out quite a bit.
Then came the challenges, it was a 3-day concert and we bought the ticket for the vocal team’s day, where they would perform specific songs in addition to their biggest hits with the whole group. My sister had begged me to get a video of myself yelling out to her favorite member, Seungkwan, that she loved him. The problem was, photos and videos were not allowed. Many people tried and would get their phones taken away by security, the photos deleted quickly. My solution to this, since I already stuck out a lot anyways as a 6’0 blonde foreigner, was to turn on the record button, hold the phone to my chest, and hope for the best. Luckily it worked, and I was able to get the video for her, as well as a few pictures.
(Above, a picture of S.coups, Seventeen’s leader, along with lightsticks)
Another issue was that I don’t speak any Korean at all and for long parts of the concert they would do skits and speak Korean, so while everyone around me was laughing I was just confused. But once the concert was over and we left, there was lots of merchandise to buy, peddled by the vendors outside.
The final way I was able to see Kpop groups was through my college, Yonsei. If you are studying abroad, or even if you check college websites, there are many free events that are put on for students. One of which was called “Hello Mr. K,” an introduction to Korean culture through music and dance. A pansori singer performed, traditional dancers came out in costumes, a vocal group sang christmas songs in the middle of summer (I will never understand that), and two Kpop groups performed: 24K and Oh My Girl. I’ve heard of both but I really like Oh My Girl, the only “cutesy” girl group I like to listen to. They’re a 7 member group from WM entertainment, the little sister group to B1A4. We were allowed to take videos and pictures of each group and they even answered some audience questions. This was the most relaxing way to watch, seated, free, and organized for you.
Of course, there are other ways to see your favorite singers and groups, including going to clubs in Gangnam, Hongdae, and Itaewon, where you can see famous dance groups too. The most expensive and affective way is to register as their fan and buy their merchandise, gaining you points and credit to go and see them at music shows and fan signs, costing you a pretty penny. However, as you can see, idols are accessible to those who do their research.