June 11, 2008 1:09 AM

Dream Concert/Korean pop

So it's been a few days. I've been busy pretty much every day until now. I'm using my uncle's computer, and so can't update when he's asleep.

I went to the Dream Concert this past Saturday. This was a concert with some of Korea's hottest pop and hip hop groups. My mom's sister Hae-won's husband works for some press website, and so was able to get 4 passes. I went with two of my cousins, and my uncle (Mom's brother).

The concert was at the Olympic Stadium, a huge structure built for the 1988 Summer Olympics. There were lines of fans outside the stadium. High school, middle school, even elementary kids were there. Most of them still had on their uniforms from school that day (kids here only get every other Saturday off). Naturally, most of these fans were girls.

With our passes, we sat not on the bleachers surrounding the field, but on chairs on the field itself. We were about 70 meters from the stage. It was really really loud, with all the teenaged fans screaming their hearts out for the concert to start. It was my first time at a concert like that, and it was exhilirating (and annoying...)

The concert started, and a parade of some of Korea's hottest musical acts came on one after another. No Rain or BoA (these megastars would warrant their own concert), but definitely some well known groups. Wonder Girls (with their almost maddeningly narcissistic "So Hot"), Epik High (their dramatic single "One" is quite a hit), and MC Mong (totally irreverent "Circus"). Other hit acts, such as Buga Kingz, Maya, Jewelry, and Super Junior performed. Some really catchy music...I've been listening to a little Epik High and Clazziquai right now.

To my understanding, the concert was meant to be a benefit for children in North Korea. The ticket sales would be used to help poor children in North Korea. How this money will actually be distributed, I'm not really sure. I couldn't quite understand everything that was said.

The concert was held up about 20 minutes in. The area close to the stage had been flooded by all these fans, who didn't have passes and weren't supposed to be there. After one of the acts left, the MCs asked the people to move...but they wouldn't budge. They had crowded the ground close to the stage, to the point of busting through the fence separating the seats. Eventually, the MCs walked off, and one of the event staff came out to coordinate the kids to move. Eventually, the fans started to walk back, but slowly. Some stayed behind, and tried to take chairs that were empty. Staff came out to escort them out as well. The whole episode resulted in a 30 minute delay in the concert.

What was interesting was the tack that the event organizer tried to use: he appealed to the fans' sense of national pride. He said that many foreigners had come to see the concert (true: I saw a group of Japanese fans), and that they would have a negative image that Koreans don't obey the rules and are selfish. Basically, he was calling on these Koreans to not give a bad image of their country to foreigners. I thought this was an interesting approach to take, which probably wouldn't work in the US...

Koreans seem to have a lot of national pride. Historically, Korea was surrounded by stronger countries like Japan, China, and Russia. Yet, it was able to maintain its independence for most of its history. Koreans are proud of this fact, and see themselves as strong, resilient people. This makes the current relationship between South Korea and the US very complicated. On the one hand, the US has provided much economic, social, political, and military aid to the Republic of Korea. On the other hand, the question arises of just what kind of relationship between the two countries is healthy. Korea was already a colony of Japan before; there is great resistance to it becoming more involved with the US. It's a tense political situation, especially with China and North Korea in the mix.

Joel Kim | Permalink | Comment on this article | Comments (0)

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