Tuesday, 12 February 2013

ZE:A, N-TRAIN And UKISS In The Snow...

...in and at the Snow Music Festival, that is.
Now, for the first time this year, this piece is definitely for K-pop fans. I don't usually write about this genre as my life in Seoul rarely sideswipes K-pop, although over the years, I have seen a few K-pop artists up close and even met a few of them. I'm not exactly the type who'd pay to watch a K-pop concert. All these encounters with K-pop stars were all for free.

Continuing on with our K-Performance Supporters' trip to the PyeongChang county, organized by the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO).

After our visit to the 2013 PyeongChang Special Winter Olympics at Alpensia Resort, our bus headed to the Hanwha Resort nearby at Bongpyeong-myeong, still in PyeongChang County in Gangwon Province. But before going straight to the resort, we stopped by the Puchon Restaurant for an early dinner. And just like our hearty korean-chinese lunch earlier that day, this meal was as filling as it was spicily delicious! I wondered, did I really have to go to the country to have this tasty food? Or am I just being lucky to have been able to visit these restaurants that serve flavorful cuisines?

  I was craving to have a hot cafe mocha after our heavy dinner, but since we were in the middle of nowhere, no cafe was in sight. The alternative though was just as good as any overpriced hot cafe mocha in Seoul! The  restaurant had a coffee-dispensing machine! So, with my small hot cup of coffee with cream, I walked off the last meal of the weekend by strolling around the icy neighborhood around the restaurant. A frozen creek, snowed mountain ranges from afar and fresher air would have been so much more enjoyable had it not been a freezing -5'C late afternoon. But I wasn't complaining. This screensaver-perfect scenery was hard to find in Seoul, much less in my neighborhood of Hannam-dong!
And after everyone was done, we all boarded the bus and hurried up to the more exciting part of the day. Well, for k-pop fans in the group, that is. I heard some members talking, not only about their favorite k-pop bands, but their favorite members as well. Good for them. For me, I may not be even able to recognize these faces when they're on stage, unless they're Psy, Rain or that lead girl in SISTAR. Of course, she has to wear that red dress with high slit, high heels and arms clutched with one leg up for me to recognize her. Ha-ha-ha!

According to Jae, our KTO coordinator, there would be about 500 people at the Grand Ballroom of Hanwha Resort to watch the Snow Music Festival. I thought if these 500 fans screamed together inside an enclosed space, I wonder how everyone would leave the place with  their eardrums still intact. Ha-ha-ha! 

Since the international audience was mostly bused in from Seoul (our Snow Festival Bus number was 12), we all trickled in at the resort bus by bus and queued at the main door of the ballroom one by one. Seating was not really a problem for me, but those fans who wanted to be nearer the stage, it was. I heard one person from my group complaining. Everyone was seated comfortably with a direct sight to the stage, with the music very audible and the dance moves very visible. There was no problem with the sound system and stage lighting. How bad could this fan's vision and hearing be? Ha-ha-ha! Just asking.  This was already an all-expense paid trip: a free bus ride, free lunch and dinner, a free ticket to the Special Olympics and a free k-pop concert, which any k-pop fan from any part of the world would kill for!  I didn't see the point of complaining and making the job of the KTO coordinators even more difficult. Well, some people are just like that. And oh, I forgot. Everyone in the group got k-pop t-shirts, KTO calendars, traditional Korean fans and snacks.

Now, let's go back to your k-pop bands. 

When everyone was comfortably seated and fidgety (ha-ha-ha!), the Snow Music Festival finally started with two emcees, a lady in a short red dress, who translated everything into English, and a guy speaking in Korean.

The first to perform was ZE:A, whom I have seen perform last year at the Korea In Motion opening ceremonies. Then, it was a relatively new band, N-TRAIN, and lastly, UKISS.  

  ZE:A and UKISS were the ones who had instant connection with their audience as one or two of their members spoke English, easily establishing a rapport with their screaming fans that night. Although, nowadays, it seems speaking English is not exactly a prerequisite for a k-pop band to be able to expand its fan base beyond Korea.

N-TRAIN, however, needed that lady emcee in red dress to translate. If I remember clearly, it was them who debuted a song. They chose the Snow Music Festival as the venue to sing that song for the first time. Sorry, guys. I didn't understand a word of your new song. But I'm sure it was good.

As I expected, fans screamed their hearts out all night. But all hell broke loose when UKISS members came down from the stage and walked among the audience while singing one of their songs. Of course, their Korean bodyguards were there to make sure no fan would successfully kidnap a member of UKISS. You know those burly bodyguards. Always staring at everyone with a menacing glare. The intimidating 'look' is part of their guise. To them, everyone is a potential threat to their client. So, even if you're a petite, 60-year old k-pop fan, frail-looking and with gray hair, these bodyguards will body-slam you on the carpeted floor of a concert venue if you lay a finger on that light-brown colored, carefully brushed, impeccably styled hair of a boy-band member. You'll get more than a body-slam if you do that to a k-pop girl band member. Their hairstyling is more expensive.

                                                   (All hell broke loose!)
Since there were only three boy bands performing that night, everything was over at about 7PM. By the way, I was able to video a part of the three bands' performance. Well, the videos don't exactly look like they were taken by a professional as I was there at the rightmost side of the ballroom and a few seats away from the stage. I just thought, for the sake of K-pop fans out there, who I'm sure wouldn't have made any fuss even he or she was a mile away from the stage so long as he or she is able to attend this k-pop concert for free, I'd record these performances. I just hope I labeled the videos below correctly. I'm not sure if I interchanged their names. Please let me know if  UKISS is now ZE:A, and N-TRAIN is now UKISS. Ha-ha-ha!

Just click on these links: ZE:A's videoN-TRAIN's video and
UKISS' video.

After the show, as part of their campaign to gain more popularity, N-TRAIN had a photo-session with the audience members. I'm not sure if some people from our group stayed behind for this. But I would have if it were SISTAR. Ha-ha-ha!

By the time we left the venue, it was already snowing heavily. Roads were slippery, the bus speed was slow and worse, my tummy was grumbling. Luckily, I saved those snacks given by KTO to us in the morning. Thanks, KTO! I didn't starve on the way back to Seoul. Our bus crossed the Hannam Bridge at a few minutes past 10PM, and snow was all over the city.
From the snowy slopes of Pyeongchang-gun, where k-pop boy bands were reunited with their screaming fans, to my Hannam-dong neighborhood which was now turning into a snowy ski run itself, this Sunday trip to the Korean countryside was indeed a snow festival of sorts. 


  1. Thanks for this!!!
    And you're right, as an American fan, for FREE?!?!? Heck, I'd be happy just to be in the same TIME ZONE as my idols. Be in the same building? *Cue the mini-heart attacks*

    1. You're welcome, Jenny! If only for the funny K-pop fans like you, I'll try to make it to the K-pop invitations this year, and will try to write more on K-pop. Cheers!