I feel personally victimized by Music Core.
It went from being just a music show, to being a living creature that has it out for me.
That was the only time exo was performing, so we figured that was it we missed it. But then the Kpop gods shone down and decided to promote them for another week. We took it as a sign–that the first week was just a trial run and now this was the real thing.
All the blogs about people getting into music core successfully say, “get there early, some groups start lining up as early as 5am!”
If you had seen what we’d seen,
Unfortunately, the first train from Suwon doesn’t even leave until 5am. Which meant only one thing–
Camping out for something is one of my favorite things to do. Even if I’m just ‘eh’ about the thing, I love the general shared excitement–when everyone is breathing the same dopamine saturated air the anticipation intensifies until suddenly you’ve never wanted anything more than the thing even though that morning you didn’t care that much.
For example, the New Moon movie. I may or may not have spent 6 hours in a parking lot to get tickets for the midnight premiere (don’t worry I went with a friend). I was just ‘eh’ about Twilight but we went because it was something to do and after about three hours suddenly I was willing to do absolutely anything to get hands on tickets.
I’ve camped out for the Boston fireworks a few times, and while I’ve never camped out for Black Friday because I’m a horrible person, I probably would do so in a heartbeat. Camping out is just fun you should try it sometime if you haven’t.
We checked the website this time, avoiding our very first mistake. Indeed, the show was to be at the Seoul MBC building. And according to Google translate “the sludge would happen at 9:20 and the recording at 10:20.”
I didn’t have a name for the writing mass of fangirls we saw last time, but apparently Korea does. The sludge. It sounds like poisonous mud
And yet, I was so excited I couldn’t bear it.
So we left on the last train to Seoul and got there around 12:30. We spent about an hour being lost before asking a 7/11 man where the MBC building was and he acted like it was the most normal question in the world for two young-ish girls to be asking at 1am and brought out a pad of paper and drew us a map.
I didn’t really know what to expect. Would there be tents? Would there be pizza? Would there be an Exodus dance party all night?
Or would there be no one and we’d be shivering in the cold all by ourselves.
One time I went on a quest adventure as part of a social media even for a new company. One of the quests was to float in the Great Salt Lake. This was an actual thing back in the day, but now the lake is…gross. It’s like sludge mixed with water. But we went anyway because I was curious and my curiosity is the only thing stronger than my will to stay in bed forever let’s be honest.
We walked a long ways to the shore and at the tideline there was a weird shaped object that looked like a drowned cat. Upon closer investigation, it was actually a water bloated twisted mass of feathers that used to be a bird. That’s gross. I looked up and realized there was another one there…and another there…what I thought were rocks were actually botchilized seagulls and THEY WERE EVERYWHERE, like a horror movie. I still haven’t quite recovered from it.
Walking into the MBC plaza was a little like that.
At first we couldn’t see anyone. We wandered through the empty cobbled plaza feeling a little ridiculous. What on earth were we doing at the MBC building in Seoul at 1:30 am and not in our comfy beds? This was a silly idea. Even exo fans aren’t that crazy. We were the crazy ones for thinki–wait–are there people in that building? And–is that a girl on that bench over there? And another girl sleeping under that bush. And a group of girls huddled on a blanket watching a show on a smartphone. And more giggling across the square. Suddenly, THERE WERE FANGIRLS EVERYWHERE.
And yet I couldn’t be that afraid of them. Unlike the botchillized birds, I too was at MBC Plaza in the middle of the night making me, in a technical definition of the term, a fangirl–a thought I don’t like to ponder.
We went in one of the buildings lit up inside and it was like a massive sleepover with mats and blankets and food except no one was talking to each other because while you may all share a love for exo, come sludge time everyone is your enemy.
We read online that you have to get a check in number by finding the fan club president, and the process is different for every fandom so you just have to ask around. We pulled one girl from her head phones with a red “60” scribbled on her right hand and asked where we should go in mumbled Korean. She just said ‘outside outside’. So we left and talked to bench girl who mimed that she used to be here but now she was gone and she didn’t know where.
We just kind of ambled through the plaza asking girls who’s faces would just appear out of the darkness and they would point further on. Finally, we reached another building with an overhang and a group of giggly girls were huddled in the corner over a mound of blankets and Call Me Baby playing on someone’s phone.
The girls pointed to the girl who had her back to us and she grabbed a notebook and a pen and by the light of one her minion’s phones she impatiently asked “ireum? name?” We told her our English names which she casually wrote in Hangul like she’d done it a million times and Silvia gave her the last four digits of her phone number. I just said, “I’m with her.”
Meeting the fan club president was almost like meeting a celebrity in itself. The power that is Exo-L…she controls it. It’s like meeting the President of the Most Powerful Country in the World. You can deem who that is but…this high school girl, though I could only see her face shadows of a smartphone, just eminated power. I was both terrified and in awe of her at the same time.
Then she demanded our left hands and wrote a number on the back.
Guys–it was 1:30am and 409 exo fans were already waiting.
She told us the first check in was at 4am–don’t miss it.
Not entirely sure what that meant, we settled near them so as not to be left behind.
I pulled out my zebra snuggie and we chatted for the next three hours or so.
In this time, only four more girls checked in. Four more. This was not a steady stream of girls rolling in through the night. No–there must have been a prime time and we were far beyond. Exactly how long had these girls been here???
At around 3:45 girls started filling the main plaza. They came out from behind bushes and under overhangs and from buildings and even up from the ground (parking garage?) like ants when you drop a pizza crust.
At 4am the Presidency got up and they each had a white sign with numbers on them; 1-100, 101-200, 201-300, 301+
Each of them had the corresponding pages of the notebook and they quickly went down the line, checking the numerical order and asking for the last 4 digits of your phone number for confirmation of your identity. If you weren’t there? Physically crossed off the list. If you left the line? Gone. One of the girls behind us went to explore another line and was gone when our List Girl came by and she had to convince her she wasn’t late she was just curious about what was going on over there.
I held my breath as Silvia told the numbers and I just said “same” and thankfully that passed and I was even more concerned than before. I assume this check in was to weed out the weaklings. Those who were not fully 100% committed to exo were not allowed in this pre-recording no way. We were told there was to be ANOTHER check in at 6am, I assume to weed out more.
We hunkered down at the base of an incredibly creepy statue of the blue man group discovering each other, and watched the sun rise.
At 6 the exact same thing happened, and there didn’t really seem to be that many less people. Exo-L is dedicated, prompt, and passionate. Let’s put it that way.
The President then yelled things in Korean and the nice girl behind us said in rough English that we were to stay in our lines and the “supporters” were coming at 8am. I wasn’t entirely sure what this meant, but I didn’t have anywhere to go anyway. And then the coffee shop opened, and I was freezing cold and took the risk like many other girls. Not going to lie–given a number and put in lines by small power-hungry people was a little holocaust-esque, except we were willing to be there.
Finally at 8, the sludge (both a noun and a verb) officially started. We noticed a girl going up the line, starting with 1-100, thoroughly checking everyones merchandise. I mean–flipping through every item one by one.
This was also on the official website. There is a certain “priority” designated to you depending on how much of a fan you are aka how much of their crap you have bought. I don’t know what this priority does exactly. Does it put you closer to the stage? Does it make you more likely to get in?
For this particular show:
“F1” was a Chinese album, Korean album, proof of purchasing a song online, and an official light stick.
“F2” was a Chinese OR Korean album and the rest the same
“F3” was just a Chinese OR an album and the online songs
“F4” was just an album and nothing else
We could maybe pass as F2 except for our light sticks weren’t exactly official. We had purchased them from an illegal stand by the Olympic Park Subway when we scalped our way into the concert. WE WERE NOOBS WE DIDN’T KNOW THEY WERE FAKE. And by the way this girl was checking stuff, she would notice that they were fake, bumping us down to F3–whatever that means. Or maybe even F4 if she considered us sketchy. And everything had been copied and pasted into Google translate so we weren’t even sure if that was correct.
She wrote a priority number on every girl’s hand and they ran inside the building screaming one at a time. I watched this happen for 2 hours.
I don’t know if she was stalling or OCD and wouldn’t let any of her Presidency do the other lines, but I began to be not happy. Thankfully the sun finally came out and I went and slept in it. Like, I actually put my head in my hand and asked Silvia to wake me up when List Girl got there.
Around 9:45, the 200 line had finally disappeared and it was just us left! By the way, only about 30 people came between us at 1:30 and people showing up at 8 before the final check.
We noticed some checking way up front but then the girl disappeared for a while. Not good.
Eventually an MBC woman came and said some things in Korean. I’m at the point where I understand most verb endings–so whatever the verb is, I know if we did it, will do it, are doing it, should do it, can do it, can’t do it, have to do it, etc. I can usually guess the verb from what’s going on. And as for vocabulary…it’s pretty much confined to four ways of saying “heart” and school supplies. I caught “this morning,” “should”, “because of” and “wait.” Everyone in our line looked a little grim but no one was leaving so we decided to stay. We’d been there 8 hours already why quit now.
A little while later, the woman came back and said some more things in Korean and everyone looked really depressed and the line broke up. We confirmed with the girl behind us–there was no room. We weren’t allowed in.
Except for I couldn’t really be like that because I was so freaking exhausted. It was more like disappointment.
My only consolation was that I noticed some of the 300s girls were wearing their school uniforms. Which makes me think they came right after school, spent the afternoon, evening, and night in the plaza, and still didn’t get in.
Gaining contentment from acknowledging that at least your life doesn’t suck as much as someone elses’ isn’t exactly healthy but it does help. A little.
And I was glad I left with my dignity, never fully throwing myself into any sludge.
We went home in an EXO induced stupor that I still haven’t fully recovered from.
After a nap I heard from Silvia–there was finally news about the Dream Concert. They released the seating chart and let’s just put it this way. No camping. No line. Transportation from Gangnam (not entirely sure what that means), a towel, and…front row seats. To like, 15 different groups, including exo.
Having not heard anything for a month, it felt like the Kpop gods were patting our heads and stroking our hair and saying, “shhh it’s going to be okay everything will be all right.”
I’ve even accepted it to the point where I was able to watch what I missed. And I tell myself that I spared my eyes from seeing their particularly hideous (yet fabulous…) wardrobe choices in person because it makes me feel better.
And with that happy thought, Silvia said she’s doing it again next week if exo performs, and honestly I’m in too. Because I WILL defeat you Music Core. I don’t even care who is performing I will come out on top. You will not win this fight.
I will not remain a victim.