Last night promised a lot of potential fun and oddities. Which, for Korea, is pretty much the standard operator procedure.
A friend and fellow teacher mentioned that there was a K-Pop concert near by to help close the Yeoncheon Prehistoric Festival. (I could not make that name up.) I was stoked because Miss A was scheduled to be performing.
This a relatively new K-Pop group with this addictive bubble pop song called “Bad Girl Good Girl“. (with fun English subtitles.)
I met up with Dennie as well as two of the teachers in his school, 언주 and 오범, those names translate into Eun-Ju and the fanastic Oh-Bomb! O-Bomb is the English co-teacher at the elementary school and his English is excellent. Eun-Ju suffers from a common Korean malady, the belief that it is better to be silent than to speak with any mistakes in English. Naturally this pretty much became my defacto entertainment when not listening to middling K-Pop groups. I would ask her questions. She took it to the extreme of trying to not walk beside me and not sitting near me. This just added to my enjoyment when I whispered to Dennie to snag the front seat so I could engage her in conversation. Thing is, she comprehends and can speak English very well.
We made our way to the outdoor concert at a Prehistoric site and meet up with Stella, a friend of Dennie’s and another English teacher in South Korea. I’m the sole Caucasian in this group, I’m with two South Koreans and two Korean-Americans. I enjoy a brief flashback to Sesame Street. “One of these things is not like the others, one of these things is not the same.” Why much I always be the other?
Probably because I put myself in situations that lend themselves to me being somewhere where I naturally am the other.
We arrive around 5:30PM with the concert set to kick off about 6PM. It’s a free concert with some fairly well known Korean acts, even if I only know of Miss A. We manage to find seats 10 rows from the stage. That’s right, half an hour to curtain and we amble up and snag five seats side-by-side ten rows or less from the front.
Gotta love Korea.
However, not everything proves to prove perfect on this night.
The first and worst thing is it’s cold. Damn cold. Who the hell thought hosting an outdoor concert on the second of November on the border with North Korea was the right date? Luckily I brought a toque and some mittens and have been growing a beard.
The first boy band takes the stage and I get the giggles. I’ll add a picture later, but they’re called Dalmatian, there song is called “Dirty Dog” (I think) which includes a choreographed ‘woof woof’ and they were dressed in white suit jackets with black dots. Wow, Dalmatians to the core. They, are the epitome of gimmicky and disposable… ah, here we go. “Round One” by Dalmatian.
After this we get a curious mix of old and new, K-Pop and traditional music. Each performer doing a song, then an interview, then another song before the hosts exchanged some banter and introduced the next act. And the performers all did the same basic set-list. Slow ballad, up tempo closer.
I must say, sometimes the Korean language brings unexpected humour such as when Miss S. (NOT Miss A at all) were called by the Korean military for an “N-Kore! N-Kore!” Not ‘en’ but N. Loved it!
The highlight probably came from a rapper called the Outsider who either could spit words like a gatling gun or suffered a serious stammer.
Due to technical difficulties the co-hosts force a Korean crooner into an ‘N-Kore’ when it’s clear he would prefer to be backstage near a heater and then we have an extended dance off. Only in Korea can audience members routinely crash the stage and instead of being escorted away by security be made to dance. Hmmm, maybe that would be a more effective deterrent at Western concerts. “Now that you’re onstage, you better dance in front of 20 000 screaming fans who paid to see the band play. I SAID DANCE Motherfucker!”
At the merciful conclusion of the dance off, won by an army corporal due to some ballot stuffing by way of the rest of his battalion’s cheers… the hosts announced. Uh, show’s over. Miss A, some solo singer and SKG Wannabe aren’t going to be here.
Wannabe – only appeared on the website.
Other solo woman – stuck in Seoul traffic somewhere (or lost.)
Miss A – were still recording something, somewhere. Uh, shouldn’t they have wrapped that in time to get to the concert?
Release the fireworks!
(Which they did.)
Meaning the main performer of the K-Pop Prehistoric Festival was… an audience participation dance-off.
Oh Korea, I love you!
How to save the night and warm our frozen bodies up? Dinner and noraebang of course!
Dinner was something I hadn’t experienced before. I think it was pig spine’s soup. Surprisingly tender and diet friendly, since extracting the meat from the bone using chopsticks had to use up more energy than I received from eating it.
Then a cozy noraebang (singing room) with four Koreans. I pretty much received my own private K-Pop concert as a Korean heavy noraebanging (heh, dirty sounding) means Big Bang, 2NE1, Wondergirls but NO Miss A. Bad Girls (not) Good Girls on this night!
I chipped in with some Western rock songs for diversity; Beatles, Radiohead and ABBA (“Tonight the super trouper beams are gonna blind me…“)
Finally, warmed up and sung out, Dennie and I hopped in a cab for the trip back to Dongducheon and rolled in about 1AM, just in time to grab a bit of sleep before having to get up for work.
Oh, and I’m pretty sure Eun-Ju sports a lil crush on me.
(She just won’t admit it… in English… yet.)