of castles and concerts

Do you ever have something turn out the opposite of what you thought? Like, have a perfect image of a certain event in your head and mentally prepare yourself to face it, only for it to be different from that situation in every way. For better or for worse.

I thought this Saturday was going to me and a bus of 40 exo fans trekking around Gwanghamun. I thought I’d be texting someone all through the palace just to keep myself unaffiliated with them, that I would run off the bus screaming with joy, and tapping my foot like Pee Wee Herman in the Alamo through Digital Media City where not only have I have I been 5 times, but I’ve slept there twice.

Just insert DMC for the alamo and the concert for the basement

No, it was not like that.

It wasn’t a  large sickly colored coach bus that pulled up to get my from Dongdaemun station, but a small navy mini van. And it wasn’t an ahjussi in a light blue shirt and microphone giving the tour but a young Korean girl. And it wasn’t 50 preteens, but a middle-aged Swiss couple.

And we had a great time.

Yes, it was pouring, my one foot in Vans and my other foot in wrappings felt like I wearing two wet socks. But the four of us just chatted under umbrellas awnings and trees until it got a little lighter and Melody would take us to the next location.


old and new

Sandy and Mark live in Switzerland but they’ve been everywhere. Mark is a stud who you could just tell was hot stuff back in the day. He literally works for a Swiss Bank and I got the feeling that he has a lot of time and money. Sandy is from Indonesia, and they met through a friend in Taiwan. In any given conversation they’d switch from French to Mandarin to German to English because there are words in each language that aren’t in another. They’d just gotten to Korea  the day before from Hong Kong and had three more weeks of vacation ahead of them. While they may have been a generation older than me, we actually became friends quite fast. I have a lot of information about Korea, and they had a lot of information about Hong Kong (where I’m going in two weeks…) so swapping stories was not only natural but useful. When I first saw them I was like, oh dear, they’re going to see me fangirl hardcore later tonight. But then I remembered I didn’t care.

But when Melody went to take a picture for us, she swiped open Sandy’s phone and she goes, “is this a Korean person?”

Yes, Sandy had Sehun as her phone background.

And then her husband backed her up, “yeah it’s exo. Aren’t they popular here? We’re excited to see them tonight. Kai and I have the same birthday.”


In the bathroom after a nice traditional lunch in Insadong, I asked Sandy how she got interested in exo etc just trying to gauge her level of fangirl. “Oh, I don’t follow everything, but I was really excited to see Sehun’s blond hair when rumor has it he dyed it black yesterday!”

We were walking through Insadong and passed a little off brand kpop stand and Mark peeked in, “oh I thought I just saw a Kai keychain.” I could see in his eyes that he wanted to buy it, but I think he thought I would judge him. How could I express that not only wouldn’t I judge him, I would admire him.

That an extremely successful person—rich, attractive, well traveled, and likable, could also be a Korean boy band fanboy fulfilled a belief that I’ve always had but was looking for someone to prove it. That everyone needs to be a nerd about something—whether it’s barefoot running or felting sweaters or collecting hot wheels or korean boy bands—to be self-actualized.

And then there was Melody, who is everything I ever wanted in a Korean friend. She’s just graduated college and is on a “year long holiday”. She went to Hansung University and is now living in Hyehwa, which is literally 4 subway stops down from me in Nowon. She dresses cutely not but not grotesquely cute. She wears cute makeup but not fake lenses, and she does her hair but doesn’t bleach blond it. Not that I have anything wrong with the latter, but those girls are kind of hard to keep up with.

When we went to take pictures by the zodiac statues she goes, “you were born in 1991?”

Me: Yeah

Melody, “oh! same age!”


And that’s when I decided our relationship needed to go from tour guide to new best friend.

Since Sylvi’s internship ended she she had to move back to Indonesia, Silvia and I had been at a loss translating Korean things. We are learning slowly, but also many things are “lost in translation”. Sylvi also wasn’t Korean so while she was fluent sometimes she couldn’t understand things either. But—here was Melody who was cute, fun, interesting, the same age, and Korean.

I made sure to get her kakao and have already made use of her last night when we needed help translating directions on how to get into a music show for a certain group (don’t ask) and she willingly responded. And then invited us to go on a tour next Sunday at some fortress. I was like—yes.

So we toured the giant palace in the pouring rain and then strolled through the folk museum before going to Insadong—a traditional/modern shopping street—which happened to be my third visit, the second of which was be last weekend. I brought them to my favorite rice mugwort waffle with cream cheese and acacia honey stand (I would go to Insadong every day just for this waffle) and Melody brought us to a weird honey nut stand where two young guys put on quite a show trying to get our money, but failing.


Finally we met up with Silvia at Digital Media City and had two hours to kill before we could actually go in our seats. Yes, we had assigned seating permanent seating which was such a change from every other concert/event we’ve been to and was an entirely different experience. Someday I will write a post about Korean fan culture because I’ve alluded to some, but just know that I was physically accosted by exo girls with giant lenses when they came onstage that night.


can you like, get out of my seat please?

It was weird seeing DMC filled with a giant stage and hundreds of lawn chairs.

IMG_1993 An extended stage was taking up the place where I got my Jungwoo selfie and the line of cameras took up the space where I slept on the concrete under my zebra snuggie.


never forget

We actually got to see the entire concert blocked (from behind a large fence) so technically we saw the concert twice. And then we went to Sol Bing and introduced Mark and Sandy to the glory that is bingsu.


I really don’t know how they got the ice cream, whip cream, and cheesecake bites inside because that melon was entirely connected

Finally it was time to enter, and then we had 2 hours to before the concert. Because of the miscommunication with the tour company, I was a row behind them, but we figured out a way to chat anyway.


The concert opened with Kai (Silvia and Mark’s favorite) doing his sensual dance and then Sehun (Sandy’s favorite) joining on the other side of the stage. I only know this because of the massive screams I could hear from my homies up front not because I could actually see them doing it.

Turns out Sehun was only in the halfway phase. Sandy was so happy.

I had been placed in the crazy fangirl section and they literally rushed my row and stood in other peoples lawn chairs (including mine) with their $1000 lenses to get pictures of oppa for their instagrams and tumblrs. Security guards came to get them down and I have never witnessed girls be more rude in my life. I could not believe their attitude. I know that makes me sound like a disappointed mother but seriously these were security guards and they were just yelling and literally hissing back and when the guard stepped away they just stood back up on the chairs. It pisses me off just thinking about it.

I have pictures and video, but that’s for another post at another time.

Thankfully the fangirls were only there for exo so I could enjoy the rest of the concert from my seat.


and now I can officially I’ve seen my top 5 favorite groups live

After, we bid farewell to everyone and I ended up going to Suwon for a sleepover. I have Sandy and Mark’s Line, and they offered their home and company up for any time I’m in Switzerland. And then there’s Melody who we already have plans with next weekend.

Overall, I’d say that the miscommunication with this tour company was the best mistake ever made. It was nothing like I imagined and this time—it was definitely for the better.


2 responses to “of castles and concerts

  1. Pingback: of alternate universes | That One Time in Seoul·

  2. Pingback: of japanese fans and korean fans | That One Time in Seoul·

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