For 6 years, I have been an avid fan of K-pop. Through the screen of my laptop, I’ve admired the photos of my favorite Korean pop singers on my social media accounts and all of the fans that got to see them. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to be up close to a K-pop idol, take photos and interact with them, and watch them live at music shows. Luckily while studying abroad in South Korea, I finally had the chance to be a K-pop fan in Korea.
Music shows are a way for idols to promote their new music weekly on television, something that’s very unique to South Korean Music industries. A handful of idol groups and solo artists– new and old in the music business– perform and try to win a trophy for the most popular song on that episode via fan votes. Some popular music shows in Korea are MCOUNTDOWN, Igikayo, Show Champion, and Music Bank– the one I was fortunate enough to attend.
Fans spend the majority of the day waiting outside for their favorite singers to enter and exit the music show venue, and depending on the week, there might be a shorter line to get to a good viewing spot. Since popular group EXO was coming that day, I went to the venue at 2:00 am and there was already a long line. Security allowed us to move to the designated areas for fans at 6:30 am, and idols start to show up around 7:00 am.
Idols walk into the parking lot area to greet the press before walking into the building to start pre-recording. Sometimes while walking in they’ll greet or do something specials for fans. Usually all of the artist that are attending that day’s broadcast will get there by 9:00 am and will not come out until their pre-recording is over or until it’s time for lunch. They also might come back to do a live performance later in the day. I was fortunate enough to get waved to, and to be greeted by some of the artists, which was awesome!
By 4:00 pm venue staff had us clear out the area so that fans could wait in line in their designated fandom to get into the show that starts at 5:00 pm. When I went, we saw NCT 127 finishing up their dance for 0 Mile. Since it’s a live show, taking videos and photo is prohibited, but idols will pre-record their performance, whether fans are inside or not, and will usually use this for the show. Some of the idols perform again for their fans.
At the end of the performance, fans go back to where they were in the morning to take photos of the idols leave before they leave for the day. It’s crazy to think that fans designate all of their free time to their favorite idols, but when you love an idol, you have to support them as much as you can!
The world awaits…discover it.