Silvia: “See those girls over there in line in front of the stadium?”
Me: looking up from my whipped strawberry ice, spilling some on my dress that I had already worn for two days and was going to wear to work the next day (but didn’t know it) because of certain events the night before that involved underground rappers at an amusement park. But that’s another post for another time.
Silvia: “There was a special EXO package for this concert JUST for foreigners. It included a fanmeet. I looked into it, but the website was entirely in Japanese and was over $1000 USD.
Me: “Holy hannah. Those girls are actually crazy.”
Me: “Don’t worry girl. We’ve been so close to EXO so many times. We’ve touched half of them. Besides the entire thing will be up on Youtube before the concert even starts.”
It was a beautiful clear day at Olympic Park–our very favorite place in Korea. Warm enough to sit on the sidewalk and eat whipped ice and just watch the fangirls mill about. Not sweaty hot like Super Show 6 back in July, or biting cold like Exo’luxion in February.
It was our last festival of the season and, while sad, the past few months I’ve been traveling Korea sleeping in places that were not my nice loft in Nowon and usually involved the concrete, rolling into work minutes before it starts, risking my life battling fangirls, and yes, touching multiple Korean boy bands.
1:59–yep that’s my hand optical illusion striped suit boy touched
But today was going to be chill.
No, we weren’t going to line up on Thursday like the girls in the front of the line. A) we have work and B) we have limits
Instead we came 30 minutes before ticket distribution started and were numbers 261 and 262 in Section F. Because it was run by Lotte (Korean Walmart) like Dream Concert, and not some sketchy tour company, we knew this wasn’t going to be another Hallyu debacle.
We’re just going to sit on the sidewalk and eat whipped ice and chicken on a stick. Roam the park watching people enjoy the last days of warm weather–kids flying kites, couples eating fried chicken on blankets, the elderly use the public exercise machines, and families ride the little red trolley. And maybe get a free photocard or two from the tumblr girls.
This was chill. No butterflies or anxiety.
Who cares that they were going to be so far away from exo? Not us. We’ve been close to see their acne. We’ve freaking TOUCHED them. We were just going to enjoy the environment and reminisce about all of our good times here in Olympic Park and that first concert exactly a month since we’d arrived in Korea. How we came to the Olympic Park stadium subway stop on a whim, hated ourselves seeing all the fangirls and knowing we didn’t have tickets, and then buying tickets from creepy ahjussis and running breathless to the stadium –just hoping that they were real–and bouncing from staff member to staff member as the lights dimmed and the opening notes to Growl started, trying to find our seats.
And yes they were tiny dots but we were there at a freaking EXO concert in Korea how did this happen what was life?
How far we have come in 8 months.
But–nothing is ever chill for us. I’m not really sure why we expect it to be any more.Things just HAPPEN to us. And while some people would shy away from these opportunities, we always take them. Because that’s how you live an epic life.
Standing in the middle of the Olympic Park Square–
Me: “we should take a selca by the exo picture seeing as we didn’t do it last time” pointing to the lifesize photo surrounded by teenage fangirls standing to the left of the square.
Silvia: “okay lets–“
Korean Accent Voice: “excuse me! excuse me!”
An Asian girl with a slightly panicked look comes running over.
Thinking she was Chinese or Japanese and didn’t speak any Korean and needed help, we decided to stop and be good people.
Girl: “pan meet?”
I won’t go into detail of the next five minutes because I’m fairly 100% almost possibly certain that the proceeding exchange was not 100% almost possibly certain entirely legal.
But, in minutes, I found myself with a very official lanyard and a pretty green exo wristband that said Section R-F.
Girl: “Starts now!” pointing to the stadium, and where that long line of girls had previously been.
Me: “Wait, like now now?”
And with an intense feeling of dejuvu, we sprinted through the line and gates, were stopped briefly by a staff member asking for my passport. I surprisingly had it on me, but Silvia didn’t. I just pointed at her “Canada! Canada!” and apparently she passed as foreign enough to be let passed with a little smile even from the staff. If our looks didn’t do it, our frantic and confused faces sealed it.
Once again, we were running through the empty hallways of Olympic Park, hearing the opening notes to Growl coming from inside, bouncing from bouncer to bouncer through the darkness. Not actually sure where our seats were, only being rushed forward as they came out onto the stage.
And that’s how I ended up in the standing section of the exo fan meet. 20 feet away.
And let’s put it this way–
I paid 5% of what the girls had paid for. No really–5%.
Because only foreigners were allowed into this event, the korean tumblr girls had somehow managed to get Chinese/Japanese passport numbers to sign up and pay. But upon presenting themselves at the guard, they had no foreign passport to show and were turned away. And they just wanted any scrap they could get.
And that’s how I paid $50 for a $1000 fanmeet.
No, that is not a typo.
The funniest part IMO though was that while yes it was only for foreigners–there were no westerners there.
It was just us.
So there were Chinese and Japanese translators for the whole thing, and not a spat of English.
It’s okay though–I understand enough Korean to know what’s going on. And I found myself laughing at little bits of Korean culture behavior that went over the Chinese and Japanese tourists’ head. Just because I’ve lived here, seen enough variety shows, and gone to enough of these concerts.
I wouldn’t go as far as to say I speak Korean. But I hear Korean. And understand a little more every day.
An hour later, after witnessing some cuteness, games, close live performances, and a tumblr-girl-fight (that surprisingly I wasn’t in the middle of this time) I met up with Silvia by the lifesize photo. She had been in the same exact position on the opposite side. And her face, which I’m sure mirrored mine was just like.
What is life.
That was definitely not chill.
And neither was the actual concert. While I didn’t touch anyone and won’t be on any fancams, I was close enough to get showered when Tablo whipped his water bottle around, and was in the middle of the fangirl sea enough to be off the ground at certain points, and my coccyx may be permanently at a slight angle due to the girls shoving down on my backpack.
Overall a success.
And sadly, it will be the last festival for a while seeing as we are going into winter and artists will start working on their own albums instead of contributing to greater happiness and joy.
But, I’d say it was a pretty good way to end it.
Until next time Olympic Park.