September 29, 2012

Surviving a K-Pop Concert

Sorry it's been a while since my last update. I've been busy with school and watching old episodes of 런링맨 (Running Man) on my free time. I've been living in Korea for more than a month now and I've gotten quite used to it. The weather is just starting to get colder and I love it!

This past month I actually got to go to two different K-Pop concerts. The first was the 2012 Incheon K-Pop Concert on Sept. 09. The concert featured top 한류 (Hallyu or Korean Wave) artists BoA, 4Minute, KARA, SHINee, Infinite, and IU as well as other top artists (Kim Tae Woo, Dal☆Shabet, and others) and a handful of newbies (B.A.P, D-UNIT, Tasty, and more!). What was so great about this concert, besides the fact that I got to see four of my all time favorite artists in one arena, was that it was free for foreigners! No seriously, I didn't pay any money at all for a ticket. All I had to do was apply by the deadline and wait for a confirmation. I applied the night before (because I wasn't aware of this fact until then) and I still got in! Then all I had to do was go to the avenue the day of the event with my passport and proof that I was in Incheon (such as a receipt from a restaurant or hotel). And even though I applied late, I got great seats! Up front, middle row, just behind the VIP and Standing sections. You could clearly see the artists from my seat! Check out the photos below (taken from my iPhone, minimum to no zooming):

View from my seat
During Boyfriend's performance (on the outer stage)
During KARA's performance (on the outer stage)
The second concert I went to was SISTAR's 1st Solo Concert: Femme Fatale. This one unfortunately wasn't free but it was still pretty cheap at 88,000원 (~$79) compared to concerts in America. And, again, my seats were pretty excellent! Check it out:

Again, from the outer stage but you can still see how great the seats were.
I had a lot of fun and I'm definitely looking forward to my next one. I wasn't without worry however. I've heard stories of people arriving at the break of dawn to see their favorite artists live so I made sure to research exactly what it is I had to do for these concerts. And with that, I have a fews tips on how to survive your first K-Pop concert!

1. Getting in line
So do you really have to wait long hours to get your ticket and get seated? Yes and no. For the concert in Incheon, because the tickets were given for free on a first come, first serve basis, obviously there was going to be some waiting involved. My friend and I anticipated a major long wait so we planned to be at the venue around 9 am, get our tickets at 11 am, then wait for the start of the concert at 7 pm. We over-planned it a little bit because there wasn't very many people at the venue when we first arrived. The lines for the tickets didn't get long until around 11 am and it was sunny out (so bring an umbrella!) and even then the lines were quite bearable. After getting the tickets, we then proceeded to wait for the start of the concert. Yes, an eight hour wait was ahead of us. But thanks to our patience, we were able to get good seats!

The SISTAR concert was the exact opposite. Because we paid for and received the tickets in the mail, we were given assigned seating. My friends and I entered the venue roughly 45 min before the start of the concert with little waiting involved. So the wait does depend on the actual event itself but I do suggest going a little bit early anyway to purchase goodies and snacks! (More on that later...)

2. How do you buy tickets?
This one is a tough one because it requires a native Korean's social security number or a foreigner's alien registration number. I had asked my Korean friend ahead of time to purchase the tickets for me since I haven't received my ACR yet. So unless you make good friends with a native, you'll have to wait for these free events. Fortunately, Korea's really great at giving foreigners the best time while their here and free and discounted concerts are quite abundant. I'm not quite sure if there's a precise way to obtain information on these free concerts besides word-of-mouth and various posters, but if you have you ACR and want to buy tickets yourself, Interpark is a great site as it has an English equivalent. There are others websites as well as means of getting tickets so just be on the lookout!

3. What can I bring?
Unlike concerts in America, you're actually allowed to bring big bags into the venue. I've even seen people come straight from the airport with their luggage! Also bring snacks with you if you plan on going early and waiting in line. There's usually a convenience store close by that you can purchase food and drinks at so if you don't want to bring food with you, bring a friend and have them wait in line for you (and bring them back something!). If the venue is an outdoor arena, bring an umbrella for the wait outside and a rain coat for the inside. You don't want to be rude and block someone's view, right? Unlike in American concerts, you're actually allowed to bring cameras! I've seen people with small and big cameras and even huge lenses. During the Incheon concert, there was actually a "friendly reminder" to not take pictures during the event but literally everyone was doing it, and the security wasn't stopping anyone either. Obviously flash isn't quite welcomed so have your settings ready so you don't miss anything! And if someone does ask you to put your camera away, please abide by the rules and just enjoy the rest of concert.

4. Dress comfortably
Wear something comfortable and nothing too fancy. You never know if you'll get pushed by a crazy fan! If you're in an outdoor arena, bring a warmer jacket in case it gets cold or starts to rain. For indoor, bring a thinner jacket or cardigan. Comfortable shoes are a must and tennis/running shoes are recommended. Leave jewelry and other favorite accessories at home, just in case you get over excited and they get lost.

5. Buy merchandise
Even if you purchased an expensive ticket, make sure to bring some extra cash not only for food but also for K-Pop merchandise! They'll have calendars, pillows, pins, name tags, and a bunch of other things for sale outside the venue. It can be a little pricy as it is not run by companies but rather local sellers but anything with an idol star's face/name on it is bound to be. My recommendation is to to buy a light stick such as these:
There's a great feeling in singing along, waving your favorite artist's colors, and chanting along with the rest of the fandom that can only be experienced in the concerts. Plus you're allowed to wave them during other artists' performances so they're quite handy.

During more specific related concerts such as solo concerts or entertainment company's concerts, fandoms may be selling things as well.
At SISTAR's concert, I got to purchase pre-signed CDs and received free posters as well for roughly the same price I would pay for non-signed CDs. It just depends on the venue and the artists involved.

6. Enjoy the concert!
Just because you're allowed to bring a camera and take photos/videos does not mean you need to focus on capturing everything for your memories. I made the mistake in filming all of Infinite's performance and focused mostly on my camera and not on the actual stage. Yes, I can relive the moment over and over whenever I want but the regret of not paying attention is also there. Take a few shots and record your favorite songs but don't forget to enjoy the moment of being amongst other fans and being in the presence of your favorite artists.

Well, there's a few tips for your first K-Pop concert in Korea. Please remember that different concerts and venues have different rules and you should make sure to abide by them. You don't want your expensive camera or precious cell phone taken away, right? Or worse, get kicked out! Just be aware of your surroundings and follow the flow of the crowd. Good luck and don't forget to enjoy it!


  1. Hi, thank you for the information :)
    i was wondering about the tickets, if you're already at the venue, will they check your ID card? because apparently there was a mistake of my name in the ticket and in the card. i used my website (in this case, gmarket) id for buying the tickets, and now i am a bit worried.. ><

  2. I agree that you should dress comfortably. Nobody likes going to a concert and getting all hot and sweaty. Hopefully, I can find some good clothes for a concert that I have coming up. I'm not going to stop going to concerts; that much I know for sure.