It’s hunting season.
Every weekend for this month and the next, there are giant festivals around Korea. I went to Gyeongju this past weekend, I’ll be going to Gangwon in November, and then Busan the next week.
I’ve never really understood why people like to hunt. Killing animals for fun? That doesn’t sound right. But now–I get it. It’s not about the actual killing. It’s about the chase. It’s about the suspense. It’s about the timing and precision. And no matter how much money you spend, how much you prepare, or how hard you work, if you don’t have luck on your side–you won’t come home with anything.
No. I have not purchased any camouflage or rifles. Guns aren’t really a thing here. Like at all.
Instead I have purchased light sticks and albums.
I haven’t spent hours shooting at a target or practicing my stealth.
Instead I’ve been incessantly watching music videos and learning lyrics.
Dream Concert was my first hunt. We learned a lot and immediately looked for the next; which wasn’t until September. The Hallyu Dream festival, featuring dozens of artists and groups in a 5 hour extravaganza. We constantly checked for information and when the tickets went on sale–we were ready.
Hunters will spend hours, sometimes days, laying out in the bush waiting for their prey. It may be cold, uncomfortable, and crazy, but the adrenaline pushes all bodily requirements and rational thought out of the way.
We left early Saturday morning… for a concert on Sunday night.
We waited 27 hours outside a stadium-thankfully it was not without event. Since it was an actual two day festival, the square outside the stadium was full of activities and food. I got a free back massage from a little Korean girl and ate poutine with an actual Canadian.
Unfortunately, one of us always had to hold our place in line–yes in line–we were not the only hunters.
We spent the first 4 hours of daylight under the “foreigner tent” because we were foreign.
Then a guy came and took our chairs away and we realized that there was an actual line forming. All Korean fangirls, but we also know we are not the average foreign fangirl.
We spent the next 4 hours in this line, and come nightfall, that line was moved to the parking lot which was probably not the best decision but it was growing and there wasn’t really room anywhere else.
This entire time we weren’t sure–no one was sure–if this was actually the correct place but we were in a line. Around 1am we discovered that a sign for the sponsor we had purchased the ticket with had been put up under the foreigner tent. So we left the line and spent the rest of the night as numbers one and two in line for foreign tickets…back in the foreigner tent. We slept out under the stars with only a snuggie and a space mat on the hard concrete, under an aurora of stadium lights and the pleasant noise of groups practicing until 3am.
And by sleep I mean close eyes for about 90 minutes and the rest of the time taking trips to the convenience store for hot chocolate and witnessing a marital dispute only solved once the police arrived.
Our ticket guy didn’t arrive until 9am and we went up and watched him unload his box. Wristband please. He grabbed us two wristbands for “Standing A” from the back of the stack wrapped in a rubber band. They said, “238 and 239”.
Excuse me sir? What happened to 1 and 2? In a mix of English and Korean he explained that the “numbers didn’t matter” because there was a section set up specifically for foreigners and that we could start queuing outside gate 4 at 3pm.
Awesome. Finally we had some information. We knew where to stand and what time to be there. We went and stood by the red carpet with a bunch of tumblr girls thinking that maybe there would be some action there. Meanwhile, the line of Korean girls had started getting their wristbands and lining up in the square. I was completely at peace with our situation, but Silvia was antsy. How could the “numbers not matter?” She left to investigate and I was happy to let her do so while I found ice cream and charged my phone.
It’s a good thing she did.
We went back to the “foreigner tent” to see a group of Korean girls–some of which were in that line the night before–screaming at this guy. For reasons I don’t understand, it turns out that “Standing A” was not in fact the foreigners section. It was anyone who decided to purchase through this sponsor–foreign or not. And because it was mostly Korean fangirls, number very much mattered. There were girls throwing their wristbands back at him and demanding their money back which he gave them…in cash. It turns out, this sponsor only gave out numbers 150-300, no matter how long you waited. It was “Standing B” that were the contest winners…and foreigners. We went from feeling like we were solid first row railing to feeling like we may not get in at all. All of our money and hard work and preparation may have been for naught.
And then–luck struck. Through a shady turn of events that I don’t entirely understand and I’m not going to write about for fear of repercussion, we exchanged our wristbands for 97 and 98.
We spent the rest of the day watching black cars pull into the venue. Fangirls knew license plate numbers so they would start screaming when certain tinted cars came by and we were like…hey…? Another highlight was a Korean woman in her 20s holding a large video camera came up and asked “hanguk malayo?” “…chokum…” *precedes in rapid Korean that we look like idiots trying to understand* For the second time this month, I was interviewed about K-Pop and confessed my love for certain people and did things that I don’t regret now, but I know I will regret later. Just another entry in the SM Entertainment video archives that will show up somewhere when I’m like 50.
Finally it was time to line up and we stood (in order of course) behind a Standing A line for 2 hours. The girls we had waited with at the beginning of the night were all many numbers behind us. I told you–it was really shady. But let’s call it luck instead.
Then there was the intense walk into the stadium where if one person runs, there will be a stampede. People did of course try to cut around the sides of the herd resulting in mass chaos and a traffic jam into the actual box where a large Korean security guard had to call out numbers and pull people from the mass that had gotten trapped inside.
When it was said and done, we were just to the left of center stage on the second row from the railing. Which is pretty good for 97 and 98.
We had been 17, 18, and 19 for Dream Concert, but that concert was also different. In that concert, we were front row for the extended stage. We faced their backs the entire time–until they turned around as part of their choreography. Because they weren’t facing the cameras, they could respond to our enthusiasm with silly faces and giant waves and winks. This was different. This time we were facing the front of the main stage. And looking around, we realized that there was not a single other foreigner. No, we were 100% surrounded by Korean fangirls. And not the average kind. These were the tumblr and instagram and youtube girls who have the professional $1000 lenses, stools, and camera stands. While they may have not been wearing nametags–they were the press.
Ladies and gentlemen…Silvia and I somehow ended up in the press box. And it only took the first group for us to realize…we were kind of noticeable. The perfect circumstances for hunting.
What were we hunting for? It’s hard to explain. I guess it’s just a moment. It’s breaking a celebrity’s facade and turning them–just for a second–into an actual person. Just a normal person who can laugh at something that’s funny–like two foreign girls jamming in the middle of a sea of reflective lenses. It’s like turning them from this perfect eyelined sparkly guy you see on music shows into an awkward guy who somehow ended up a stage in eyeliner and sparkles. It gives you this weird sadistic adrenaline rush you can run on for days after. I don’t know if they appreciate it that much, but I guess animals don’t appreciate being killed either.
It wasn’t just that we were foreigners in the second row. As part of the Korean fan culture that I still don’t really understand, these girls only paid attention for their particular group. If their group wasn’t performing, they straight up sat on the ground to upload the pictures and videos to social media.
And once that was done, they played games on their phones or even streamed other music shows.
And when they were standing up, they were hiding behind giant lenses perfectly still. Silvia and I on the other hand…were not doing that.
Let’s play a game called find Mallory and Silvia.
You can watch the whole thing. Or you can start at 1:40.
We bagged a bunch of rookie groups. A group would come on and 90% of the people around us would sit down. We would each choose a member to focus on and when the song started, throw him hearts and waves. When we got him, we would turn to each other and say, ‘that was mine’ or ‘that was yours’ and give a high five and move on to another member. Until eventually the entire group was looking for us.
We also bagged some pigeons. Seventeen, the rookie group who has become really popular really fast, were a giant flock there’s just so many of them and they’re only in the spotlight for a second. Most of the fangirls were standing up because even if they weren’t ‘their group’, they’re popular. But as the above video shows, we were noticeable.
The official video broadcast in china was filmed from behind Standing B so the arms in the foreground are the sane foreign group that we weren’t in. No, we were much closer.
1:11–that’s right joshua you heard me
2:03–I know we are adorable no need to sing to us
We got some larger game as well. Let’s play the find Mallory and Silvia game. It’s good to know there were some fans enjoying themselves. Way back in Standing B. Way to far to see or hear. Watch the tall dirty blond. He saw us at 0:01 and well once you see us…you can’t unsee us.
The official Chinese video shows that we actually got all of them. They all look like they’re about to bust a gut.
A close up of the tall dirty blond–well we kept shooting at him. And he liked it. And in the end it wasn’t him that died, but us.
This just happens to be the group I ran into when I got lost on my way to the bathroom at Dream Concert. I was wandering around the stadium looking for a way inside when a black car appeared from around the bend and pulled to my left and they got out and were literally 12 inches from me and I didn’t know what to do but nod and say annyeonghaseyo because that kind of thing only happens in Disney Channel Original Movies which is not my life.
But the big prize, the mooses, came very last. And dear readers, we bagged all five.
They came on and I took out my light stick that I’d kept safely in my bra and waved it high above my head. I was ready for this. This was the finale, so every girl was standing…and I made some people not happy. In the middle of the first song, a girl came up behind me and in surprisingly good English asked me to put my stick down. Without looking away or stopping I just said no. After I could hear them talking about me–how my light stick kept getting in their shot. #sorrynotsorry
One Hit KO 2:15
Silvia’s headshot 1:24
I nipped blondie’s ears in the first slow song, but the fangirls haven’t posted it yet. Come on blingers where you be at. I nipped him again at 2:14, and then finally shot him down at 3:30
Don’t believe me? There’s plenty of proof. You can play the Let’s Find Mallory game starting at 7:34.
I’m yelling and waving after his little high note.
8:45–bam nailed it.
The final two had seen us during the first song from the other side of the stage. This is the official video shot way from behind Standing B. So no–that light stick isn’t mine. Hm let’s laugh at the foreigners who just shouted ne
But perhaps the most memorable part of the night was the finale, with everyone coming from backstage and walking out to confetti cannons and sparkles. All of the tumblr girls turned around to follow them while we kept looking to the side. Two of the Seventeen members (the pigeons) were happy to see us again only for their faces to suddenly turn extremely concerned and reach out their arms in worry. I looked to my left to see that in an intense moment of fangirling, I had jumped on a stool that a tumblr girl wasn’t using and that Silvia had too–but she had unfortunately fallen off of hers and was now stumbling around. I would pay a large amount of money for a fancam of this moment, but I highly doubt it exists anywhere except my own neurons that I will keep reliving so they never wear out.
It’s been 4 days since the concert and the youtube girls are still delivering our goods. It’s taken a while–since the load is so heavy. There are so many more moments and my playlist just keeps growing. At this rate–we will have meat for months.
I love hunting season.