This post is for anyone who stumbles on this blog looking for information about attending a Kpop concert at Olympic Park Stadium in Seoul.
Having gone to 4 concerts here, including Infinite Effect this past Saturday, I consider myself an expert.
There weren’t quite as many horses or iron wings as I had hoped.
But I didn’t start out that way–no I made many mistakes. I have much to learn as well, but here’s a 101.
Step One: Getting a ticket
I thought the only way to get a ticket was the crazy button pushing on the internet when they go on sale. Fangirls go to PC Bangs with superspeed internet to buy them, selling out in less than a second. Literally.
I don’t have that kind of finger flexibility, or time, so my original thought was just to get into ONE concert somehow by someway. But never fear–there are other ways to get tickets.
On just a small hunch, my friend and I went to Olympic Park on the third day of Exo’Luxion—just to see. Turns out there indeed ahjussis selling tickets right at the entrance. Their accessibility depends on the popularity of the group. For Exo, they were these creepy little men with blue fanny packs where the exchange went down with shifty eyes and underhand passes.
Whereas for Shinee World IV, they were out in the open, but only whispered “ticketeu?” as you walked by. We went over to him and he showed them to us. We chatted a bit and he waved us on, motioning that we needed to decide fast.
And Infinite-well—we walked out of the subway and a guy in the middle of the square was like ‘foreigner spotted’ and just about shouted “TICKETEU”
A third way to get a ticket is through Twitter. In the days before the concert, many girls will be selling tickets on the web. I assume these are the girls who bought out the concert to begin with and are now trying to make a profit.
They post something about tickets and you reply saying you’re interested. The hard part about this is that you should know at least a bit of Korean if you want to be successful. But most importantly, you have to be in Seoul already. There is literally a meet up sometime in Seoul beforehand where money and tickets are exchanged.
I even know of girls who have flown in from Japan to make this exchange. I thankfully made a Korean speaking friend who is an actual expert in this field and has more time than I do. She was able to communicate on twitter and make the exchanges for me. This is how I got the standing tickets.
As for the price—I’ve paid 150000 won (about $150) for every ticket, from the very last row at Exo’luxion, to the middle center for Shinee World IV, to the standing tickets for Super Show 6 and Infinite Effect. Internet price are about 110000, so it’s an average 40000 won gain. I don’t the exact economics of it, all I know is my own experience.
There are probably even more ways to get tickets, but these are the ones I understand.
Step Two: Get to Olympic Park
Olympic Park is a single stop on the east end of Line 5 (the purple one). But be careful. There are actually two trains that run on this track and split at Gongdong. MAKE SURE YOU ARE ON THE TRACK GOING TO MACHON. Not Hangang. Hangang goes North towards the river. Machon goes south. So you can ride either train to Gangdong, but at that stop TRIPLE CHECK that you are on the train heading to Machon.
I have made this mistake before.
It is the opposite of fun.
Step Three: Arrive at Olympic Park
The station is literally called “Olympic Park” and there is only one exit—up. You’ll know you are in the right station because hundreds of fangirls are crowding the electrical outlets along the walls. There are even more if it’s been raining/snowing. There are lockers in this station, but very few and I don’t even recommend trying honestly. Plenty of people bring their backpacks/purses right into the venue.
Although I recommended bringing a small one so that your circulation isn’t cut off in the process.
Continue heading up the stairs following the fangirls and the sunshine and omo! You’ve reached the exit. Three feet from the exit are 5-6 stands selling fake merchandise. Pillows, pop up stands, posters, and even lightsticks. The most important item is the light stick, and sometimes the fake ones look real and sometimes they don’t at all.
There is also a couple of food carts, selling chicken on a stick and pineapple and the like.
Turn right to see the scalpers and the long walk to the stadium.
Step Four: Cross Olympic Park:
This is an adventure in itself.
The park is HUGE. It was built in the 80s for the Olympics (hence the name) and is now used as a stadium for Kpop concerts and sporting events. The ticket validation is way at the other end, and you will pass many interesting things on the way.
For one—the free stuff. Every few hours a fan site will set up a stand. Run by teenage girls, these fansites have made some pretty cool free things to advertise their tumblrs.
You’ll know there’s free stuff by the looooong lines. But they usually go pretty fast.
The typical stuff ranges from banners, photocards, and fans. They are usually for a specific member of the group, so pick carefully.
But there was one Japanese fansite giving out free copies of the new Shinee single—jewel case and everything.
There is also a convenience store, which is prepared for this type of thing by now, and a few restaurants and coffee shops across the street.
So you keep walking straight along a cobble stone square for a long time. Like 3/4 of a mile or something.
I don’t understand kilometers still.
You finally reach the tents and the stadium.
Step Five: Entering the Venue
This is where multiple official tents are set up—a mile away from the fake stuff. There’s the tent selling official merchandise, but depending on the popularity of the group, the merchandise could be sold out hours beforehand.
I heard that Inspirits (Infinite fandom) lined up the night before to get in line for a light stick.
Everything but the socks were out of stock for Shinee and there was 0% of things left for Exo. You’d think they’d plan for these types of things but I think it must be some kind of marketing strategy. Apparently they like to torture fangirls it’s fine.
If you have a standing ticket, you have to bring it to another tent and get a wristband that shows your section.
Speaking of standing tickets—they’re an entirely new experience.
Step Six: The Concert:
If you have a sitting ticket, you can arrive whenever you want and have a nice seat. There’s usually a fun part of the concert where they have you stand up and jump around screaming but then it gets mellow again and everything is just calm and tears of happiness.
But if you have a standing ticket.
Your life is on the line for 4 hours.
First off, for standing tickets you should arrive a few hours before hand. They often let the standers in before the concert actually starts. They line everyone up according to priority number and let you go in one line at a time so you stand row by row by the stage.
At least they try to make it orderly.
Once the concert starts—it’s a mosh pit.
So last week I had a standing ticket for Infinite. It’s just another boy band with seven 20-somethings running around in sparkly suits. I was in section E, which is to the right of the extended stage. I was number 367 out of 1000+, so I was in about the 5th row. By the end of the concert, I had been pushed up to the 2 1/2 row.
By pushed I mean “falling in the right direction.” There’s an art to it—find the weak point between two girls shoulders (make sure they’re not friends) and when Oppa runs by, let the other fangirls do the pushing until voila! You’ve moved up a row.
The lights turned off and I’m not kidding you—I was smashed by thousands of fangirls in a writhing mass of sweat and hair and tears. There were moments when, this is not hyperbole, my feet were not on the ground I was just supported by small shoulders. At another point, my right arm somehow got stuck horizontally and I tried to pull it to my side and I literally could not get it out. Like a human knot, it had been wrapped and twisted through half a dozen other arms. I yanked and yanked until I was finally able to get it to slither out thanks to the sweat lubrication.
I think our section was particularly vicious because there was screaming and pushing and there was even an employee walking between the stage and the rails showing the front row safety procedures “cross your arms” and giving them water from a liter bottle.
But worth it—being in that kind of primeval happiness and raging estrogen and screaming so loud your throat will never be the same—it’s unrivaled by any previous experience.
The highlight was when of the members ran by our stage. The girl in front of me had her phone out and he straight up took it out of her hand, took a selfie with it, and gave it back. The girls around me just about fainted. One of them may have and I wouldn’t know—we were so packed we would have remained standing.
So you can have completely different concert experiences in the same venue, depending on your tastes. After Dream Concert I swore I would never invest in a sitting ticket again.
And so I haven’t.
One thing you should know is that they really don’t like you taking pictures.
My friend was in the very top sitting row for Shinee and she just wanted a quick picture of the aqua pearlescent sea and an employee took her outside and almost threw her out. She started crying, real tears, and the woman had sympathy but made her delete the photo.
At this concert, they were much more chill about the pictures. Oppa taking the selfie caused mass mayhem amongst the primeval soup of fangirls to the point where I was trapped in a domino line and stepped at least a foot to the right only saved by the fangirl next to me.
But after that every girl in the near vicinity had their phones ready for vicious thrusting towards the stage. I, and many others, took this opportunity to surreptitiously snap some pictures.
The staff caught on though, and my shoulder was tapped and a nice girl in her 20s told me to put my phone away–along with 7 other girls around me. I did as I was told, grateful that I hadn’t been kicked out, but the girls around me rolled their eyes and took them back out when the employee went to scold another group of teenagers.
So I did actually get a video, but I’m still afraid of repercussion.
Step Seven: Going home
You know the concert is over when the glitter and confetti cannons go off from every angle and it’s raining joy and happiness while the group members run around smiling and winking.
Having stared down death approximately 1000 times and fangirled in its face, it’s time to go home.
Like cattle, the thousands of fangirls are herded down into the subway. You end up waiting in a mass crowd seeing as the purple line comes only every few minutes. You could instead break away to the Burger King across the street or browse the even more fake merchandise that has magically appeared.
Congratulations! You’ve survived a Kpop concert. You probably aren’t the same person you were when you walked in but that’s okay. Why else would you go?